Follow TV Tropes


Series / Bramwell

Go To
The series 1 cast.
A television medical drama revolving around Doctor Eleanor Bramwell (Jemma Redgrave), 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 her 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 fiancé 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.
  • Babies Ever After: The series ends with Eleanor pregnant.
  • Blood from the Mouth
  • British Brevity: Four series. 7 episodes in the first, 8 in the second, 10 in the third, 2 in the fourth (two two-hour movies, to be fair), for a grand total of 27 episodes, slightly more than one typical US TV season.
  • Broken Pedestal: Eleanor is very envious and admiring of the happy marriage of the friends she visits while recuperating from her break-up. She's devastated to find out that the husband has not only been cheating on his wife, he's seduced and impregnated their underage​ nanny.
  • Busman's Holiday: When Eleanor flees to the country to visit old friends following her break-up with Finn, she gets caught up in treating a measles epidemic, which snaps her out of her depression and makes her rediscover her passion for medicine.
  • 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.
  • 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 Scottish, 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 time period.
    • While frustrated with her demented, elderly mother, a nurse refuses to place her in an asylum. Given the conditions of such places at the time the series is set, her reluctance is understandable.
  • Derailing Love Interests: Marsham turns into this after he and Eleanor break up with the revelation that he's been a regular user of brothels. This is someone we've seen be very loving and devoted to his wife despite their Sexless Marriage and was quite lovey-dovey with Eleanor during their brief engagement, now acting completely remorseless about having cheated on them both.
    • Eleanor herself abruptly goes from doting fiancee to an unfaithful one.
  • Double Standard: Tying into the "Dissonance" entry. Eleanor flips out when she discovers that her father has a mistress, but he dismisses her outrage, as this is perfectly accepted behavior for a man of his social standing. His reaction to finding out that she had a romantic weekend with her lover is to be outraged enough to threaten to throw her out. He doesn't, but it still strains their relationship considerably for some time. This is unfortunately probably quite accurate for the standards of male-female behavior at the time.
    • Similarly, Marsham is angry and bitter towards her after she cheats on him and leaves him for the other man—even though he's been visiting brothels for years and it's implied that he would have continued to do so after they married. Again, his behavior is acceptable, hers isn't.
  • Extra-Long Episode: The final season consists of two two-hour-long movies.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage/Shotgun Wedding: Eleanor and the military officer she marries at the end of the series.
    • Eleanor and her father also try to enforce this with Finn O'Neill after her father learns of their weekend together, in an attempt to preserve her reputation.
  • The Grotesque
  • High-Pressure Blood: Justified. It's usually an artery.
  • Heroic BSoD: Eleanor after Finn deserts her. She sinks into such a deep depression that she actually needs to leave town for a while and stay with friends to recover, but this backfires, as even hearing them bicker is enough to make her cry, to say nothing of their loving interactions. She recovers by throwing herself into providing care to the people of the town.
  • Hospital Paradiso: Particularly the episode involving O'Neill and the pregnant child prostitute.
  • Hypocrite: Eleanor is outraged to discover that Dr. Marsham is a regular visitor of brothels and would have continued to be so after they married. . .except that by the time she confronts him about this, they've called off their engagement—because she cheated on him.
    • Marsham himself. He pretty much slut shames her after she cheats on him and dumps him, but he is utterly blasé about his penchant for prostitutes.
  • I'm a Man; I Can't Help It: Marsham's explanation as to why he sought out prostitutes—his wife stopped sleeping with him after the death of their son.
  • Incurable Cough of Death
  • Instant Sedation: Subverted.
  • Jerkass: Finn O'Neill. He's an 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.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: The final season is vastly different from the others—only two 2-hour episodes, Eleanor's father and new stepmother vanish without explanation, her behavior becomes foolish and irresponsible, culminating in her being fired from the Thrift, the hospital she started, and she marries someone she only met a few weeks prior.
  • Lethal Diagnosis: Only, like, every other episode.
  • Missing Mom: Eleanor's mother either died in childbirth or when she was very young.
  • Old Maid: Eleanor, by the standards of when the show is set.
  • Parents as People: Eleanor's shocked to discover that her father has a mistress and demands that he end things. He tells her that his personal life is none of her business and that as a grown, long-widowed man, he has, ahem, needs to be fulfilled.
  • Race for Your Love: Eleanor rushing to catch her fiancé 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.
  • Sexless Marriage: Marsham and his wife. So grief-stricken after the death of their son that she couldn't bear to risk conceiving again.
  • 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 the purist "case of the week" procedural.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Eleanor and Dr. Marsham. At one point, he confesses his love for her, embarrassing them both, as he's married. This is never brought up again until some time after his wife dies, when he proposes to her, fully acknowledging that she doesn't love him the way he loves her but wanting to save her from being an Old Maid. But the engagement falls apart both because of the disparity in their feelings and her fling with an army major.
  • Victorian London
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Frederick, of season 2.