The days of the BBC’s Saturday night flagship drama Casualty’s mediocre writing, hilariously badly choreographed stunts and supermarionation model Concorde crashes look to have been laid to rest with an explosive episode filmed in one take which aired last night in the U.K.

Many shows have done live episodes, I particularly remember the hype surrounding E.R.’s live episode back in the 90’s but once upon a time, it was commonplace. If a scene of Coronation Street wasn’t complete, the actors would just perform it live and a director would vision mix live.

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Of course, the one take is nothing new either – Alfred Hitchcock pulled off such a feat with his 1948 film Rope. Hitch may have himself called it an “experiment that didn’t work out” but I think cutting five times as actors crossed to change film (because film rolls could only shoot about 18 minutes at once) was genius at the time.


I admit I haven’t watched this 30th anniversay ‘sode but if a picture paints a thousand words, this one proves Derek Thompson still cant act… even if he is the BBC’s highest paid actor!

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It’s been a while since I had to provide 50 minute cutdowns of Casualty but, piss-taking aside, removing 8-9 minutes was often quite a challenge demonstrating efficient (if not high quality) writing.

I remember when an episode of Casualty was twenty minutes of two intercut families arguing over breakfast (usually one middle class, one scallies) before more intercut car journeys, one travelling L-to-R the other R-to-L ended in disaster. Et, voila! Une episode de Casualtie complete.

FROM THE TOP!

 

The amount of planning (above and beyond the normal, hugely time-consuming pre-production a multi-faceted series like Casualty, with its location scouting, stuntwork, ensemble cast etc. entails) and hard work by director Jon Sen and the whole team deserves respect.


As E.P. Oliver Kent states in the BTS (behind the scenes) video – if someone fluffs their lines in the 47th minute, you have to go back to the beginning, which may be hilarious for Mark Wootton’s Sasha or Brendan Allen but probably not if you’re non-BECTU.

Casualty’s One Shot Episode is available on BBC iPlayer for 29 more days.