DEFINITION April 2022 - Newsletter


Dick Lunn, who helped resolve this problem. “We had 250 boxy enclosures, and in each one was an Astera fluorescent tube. They were all mains-powered and fed to the lighting desk. We put a fake PAT sticker on the side of each one with a number on it.” These helped the practical lights fit their setting, but also improved their functionality. “I could decide to dip certain lights to create a better shape with the shadow – they weren’t completely off, just here and there. You weren’t always working with very flat lighting, but enough shape that it looks interesting.” The result is incredibly effective. Lighting reads as an authentic hospital environment, but also serves its narrative purpose. Overhead illumination is accurate, but carves out shadows in the actors’ faces – particularly under their eyes, emphasising the exhaustion and dread our hospital workers are steeped in. Spence further explains that this

real hospitals, people have to be able to see everywhere. Because of that, you can’t have much shape and shadow, which is exactly what I want to bring in.” Spence continues that he and Forbes were thrilled to be working with production designer

set-up could easily represent different times of day. “It’s such a powerful tool, allowing us to do things like trick a dusk. We turned all the lights from Daylight to Tungsten balance, and I swung the camera’s white balance with that, making the exterior windows a deep blue.” The subtle representation of the passage of time is a powerful visual indicator for the sheer number of hours our characters spend on the clock in one stint. As

“The frames aren’t entirely perfect. The lighting is not always clean. There’s mess. In a way, it mirrors the current state of the NHS”

THE HEART OF THE ACTION Hospital lighting was limiting, but the set-up was rigged to give precise command

Production Fact File

CAST Lots of supporting artists were played by real hospital staff, as it was easier than training laypeople

LOCATION Interiors were shot on a purpose-built set; exteriors feature Ealing Hospital

BROADCAST It was budgeted as a BBC Two show, but promoted to BBC One when airing

41. APRIL 2022

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