Peak Practice: Remembering the Derbyshire ITV medical drama loved by millions
Brits love a good medical drama. Casualty has been there since the mid-’80s, Holby City had a terrific run that ended this year, and Call The Midwife is set to go on for years to come as millions tune in across the country.
High-stakes drama is the obvious route to a hit TV show, and the medical community provides it all. The secret ingredient, however, is that they are linked – who hasn’t been involved in important health decisions?
There is, however, one popular show that has not survived to the present day – Peak Practice, in Derbyshire. The first series began in 1993, telling the story of a doctor returning from Africa to join GPs in the scenic countryside, and the rest is history.
SEE MORE: Where are the original Casualty cast members now? From an Oscar winner to a tragic death in real life
It was a big hit for ITV in its heyday, and even the final twelfth series drew 6.7 million viewers. By comparison, 2.9 million people tuned in to Eastenders’ last Christmas special in 2021.
Certainly, we are inundated with choices these days. But Peak Practice was highly regarded in its time.
The show was set in the fictional village of Cardale in the rolling hills of Derbyshire. The Amber Valley provided many shots of village life, with Crich and Fritchley playing the lead roles.
The Crich Tram Museum was even the home base for film crews on sets, and a chip shop in the village was named after its fictional counterpart. Eagle-eyed viewers might also recognize the characters’ homes, from Ashbourne to South Wingfield.
The major town, Derby, also played a supporting role – unusual for a rural setting. The cathedral, the train station and the old bus station have all appeared in the show at some point.
Peak Practice had a rotating cast, with many who started the series being replaced over time. Auf Wiedersehen, Pet’s Kevin Whately was the original main man as Jack Kerruish, Brookside’s Amanda Burton played chief of surgery Beth Glover, and Simon Shepherd’s portrayal of struggling character Will Preston set him up. for future success
The show came to an abrupt end in 2002, just nine years after its debut. “We felt the time had come for a fresh start in a new environment,” ITV bosses said at the time, although it left cast and fans crestfallen.
This ‘new environment’ was another medical drama from Derbyshire – Sweet Medicine, based in the Peak District. It only lasted one series, in 2003.
Peak Practice was a brave show, dealing with everything from scandal to divorce, from faith healing to child custody, from assisted suicide to village epidemics. It had huge reach, and viewers tuned in week after week to see what happened next.
It is still re-aired occasionally on digital ‘golden oldies’ channels, and all twelve series can be watched for free on UKTV Play’s on-demand service.
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