A television medical drama revolving around Doctor Eleanor Bramwell, a female doctor in Victorian England, running a clinic for the poor in London's East End. It seems to be standard costume-drama fare except for the subject matter: Period medical techniques are shown in some degree of detail, and Bramwell herself faces a good degree of opposition by virtue of gender.
Though the initial intent is to treat only those who cannot pay, Eleanor can't run a free clinic on her own without taking patients on the side, and a fair bit of the show's plot revolves around ethical dilemmas on whom to treat and why. Rather than focusing the series on exotic new ailments, due to the historical setting, a good deal of the show is spent demonstrating the historical approach to a problem - an ovariectomy for a woman with post-partum depression, for example - and they don't shy away from showing some spurting blood here and there.
This show provides examples of:
- Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: When Eleanor's fiance returns from his fellowship in America, she's devastated when he tells her that he's married someone else. Though it's implied that it was more of a Shotgun Wedding rather than him genuinely falling in love with the other woman.
- Anyone Can Die: Rather graphically, Lady Cora Peters in the first series, and Dan Bentley in the second.
- Blood from the Mouth
- Bring Out Your Gay Dead
- British Accents: All over the place. The posh accents of the upper-class Bramwells and those in their social circle, the cockney accents of the patients and staff at the East End clinic (as well as the servants of the upper-class set), and Irishman Dr. Marsham.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Eleanor's father, despite being a major character for the first three series and having had a loving, close relationship with her, is completely absent from the final series (along with his new wife), with no explanation for their absence given.
- Christmas Cake: Eleanor is implied to be this, by Victorian standards, at least.
- Daddy's Girl: Eleanor and her father
- December-December Romance: Eleanor's father and several women he courts throughout the series, including the one he eventually marries.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Eleanor is put through a lot of crap because of her gender, to the point where the only position available for her is running a public clinic in one of the poorest sections of London. The same fate befalls Dr. Marsham, even though he's a man, but because he's an Irishman, he's equally unwelcome in London's high society hospitals. Even Dr. Bramwell, Sr. isn't exempt from this—one episode is centered around him finally having enough money to afford an office on Harley Street, which was (and still is) the place for prominent physicians, hospitals, and medical schools.
- Additionally, despite all the discrimination she's dealt with, Eleanor is shocked when she discovers that one of her patients is married to a black man, and her reaction to a man dressed in women's clothing and in a relationship with another man is exactly what you would expect for the the time period.
- Extraordinarily Empowered Woman
- The Grotesque
- High-Pressure Blood: Justified. It's usually an artery.
- Hospital Paradiso: Particularly the episode involving O'Neill and the pregnant child prostitute.
- Incurable Cough of Death
- Instant Sedation: Subverted.
- Jerkass: Finn O'Neill. He's a ass to Eleanor and company when they first meet, eventually seduces Eleanor, then tells her he's leaving for America. When he comes back for a visit, he implies that he's involved with someone else, and when he comes back for good, tells her that he's married the other woman, not only breaking Eleanor's heart, but essentially leaving her a ruined woman, sex outside marriage being a major taboo for young women in those days. To top it off, in his final appearance, he reveals that he doesn't even love his new wife but married her only for her money, then suggests that Eleanor be his mistress so that he can have the best of both worlds. To say nothing of the fact that throughout this particular episode, it's implied that he might be trying to kill his wife to escape his loveless marriage.
- Lethal Diagnosis: Only like, every other episode.
- Missing Mom: Eleanor's mother either died in childbirth or when she was very young.
- Race for Your Love: Eleanor rushing to catch her fiance before he leaves for America, fearing that the fight they had earlier may have ruined things. Luckily, it hasn't—for now. See the "Absence" entry above.
- Status Quo Is God: Each episode in series 1 and 2 is largely self-contained. At the end of series 2, things become much more settled into a story arc, whereby the story of Eleanor, Finn and her other suitors takes over from purist "case of the week" procedural.
- Victorian London
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Frederick, of season 2.