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For their particular project Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie propose to explore the world of the hospital, its TV representation and internal broadcasting systems. Their project will look at both the creation and consumption of story lines from medical 'soaps' such as Holby City and Casualty (the longest running UK drama), and more unexpected links to themes and genres from television such as documentary and improvised comedy. They will work over the Christmas period within a real London hospital, observing and documenting the life of the hospital in collaboration with TV comedy writers Oriane Messina and Fay Rusling. This material will generate writing and live improvisation with staff and patients creating impromptu events specifically for this 'local audience', and later developing material for the TV swansong webcast.

Project Aims :
  • To influence the way that healthcare and cultural activities can interrelate.
  • To work on a new hybrid cultural form of comedy and art.
  • To generate an experimental collaboration between experienced comic writers from the world of television and artists well established in the field of cross-disciplinary arts.
  • To make a major contribution to innovative arts practice.
  • To create an end product with both an excellent 'live element' in a hospital and a groundbreaking final broadcast that builds on ideas developed through the working in a hospital.
  • To explore ways that new developments in hospital broadcasting (such as Patientline) could provide a platform for the arts.

Dramas such as Casualty already play on the idea of the microcosmic society operating within the more or less hermetic environment of the hospital, and this project will capitalize on the idea of each hospital as a microcosm. Hospitals already have a tradition of their own broadcasts - hospital radio has been a 'feel good' fixture for decades across the UK, these stations were a familiar feature in the 60's and 70's and seem to be tied into the general public nostalgia for 'better' broadcasting represented by this era. Still going strong in many hospitals across the UK their 'old style' monopoly is now being challenged by new hospital broadcasting systems such as Patientline. With this system patients can receive not only the hospital radio station at their bedside but also (at a price) terrestrial and satellite TV on demand.
Pope and Guthrie plan to build on the tradition and idiosyncrasies of Hospital Radio style, content and delivery whilst also considering the wider impact of hospital dramas on TV and technical innovations such as Patientline. Working in a hospital over the Christmas period they plan to create a kind of Christmas Special that they will later 'pitch' to Patientline as an example of how more patient-centered programmes could be commissioned for this system.

Humour within a hospital context is the other thread to Recommended Dose - perhaps a 'taboo' in hospital drama/arts still to be broken? Recent alternative comedy has started to utilise a kind of humour around medical situations but this still remains to a great extent uncharted territory. This project will explore the possibility of making dramatic situations that start within familiar models from TV or light entertainment (such as Christmas Specials), but then perhaps move out of these by working in collaboration with established comic writers, performers and patients from a particular hospital ward. The artists have already made contact with the head of comedy at Channel 4, and a producer at Talkback productions as well as teaming up with writers Messina & Rusling.

Pope & Guthrie's Recommended Dose will develop the idea of a highly localised hospital radio station and push this through the new technical model of webcasting. The artists will work within the culture of a hospital to create the project content with the staff and patients, who will be the primary audience for the work. This localised focus will later be further scrutinised by a wider audience as the work ultimately becomes available and promoted via the TV swansong web site - contextualised by this framework and the other seven pieces by different artists.

Nina Pope & Karen Guthrie are also the curators of TV swansong and have collaborated since 1995 including projects for Tate Modern and the I.C.A (London). They are based in London, and will show at the Barbican (London), Angel Row (Nottingham) and Chapter (Cardiff) in the next year.



The BBC casualty and holby city site -
Casualty & Holby City Fan Club Site -
The National Network for the Arts in Health -
Excellent links to all UK Hospital Radio Stations -
Hospital Broadcasting Association -