Tuesday, 5 July 2011


I watched one episode. I'm not impressed. I'm not sure how Tom Reynolds will be reacting to it either, now that he is no longer in the ambulance service.

It could have been something good, a la Green Wing or Scrubs but instead Channel Four apparently see us all as a bit thick and professionally rude. I know it's only fiction but it claims to be based on 'Blood, Sweat and Tea', which is NOT fiction and was well written by Mr. Reynolds... unlike this melodramatic rubbish.

And not to be too technical, and based purely on the first episode, Channel Four continually refer to the characters as paramedics but not one of them is - they all wear Emergency Medical Technician epaulette sleeves. You'd think they'd get their research right.

As I said, I was looking forward to watching something funny and entertaining. Something that didn't make the profession look stupid. Historically, every single TV or movie based pre-hospital care professional I've seen has been depicted as low-class and subservient to doctors and nurses (in my opinion) and this piece of TV tat does that too. What did Green Wing and Scrubs do right that Sirens didn't? Or are we just no good at being entertaining unless it's real and people are actually suffering?

The police and fire service have both benefited, PR-wise, from good, long-running TV exposure, but the ambulance service just doesn't cut it somehow. I wonder why that is?

I'm releasing my novel next month. It'll be an e-book to start with. I expect I'll get a fair amount of criticism because writing fiction is hard; it really is. Getting the right balance of irreverence and raw humour and capturing the soul of the characters is daunting for a first-timer like me, but I can imagine the players in my own story acting out a better performance than I've seen with Sirens so far.

'A Paramedic's Diary' is still selling well after 4 years and I'm pleased of course but I've learned something about people out there. There are individuals that read some of what you've written and then submit personal attacks, as if you've just insulted their Granny or something. They don't critique the book; they have a go at the author. Are these the same people who get 'offended' at something on TV and continue to watch it, just so they can be really offended and write in about it? A sad bunch I think. So, to be balanced and fair, I will watch another episode or two and give it my best appraisal. It might improve but I'm doubtful.

Tom Reynolds might be pleased with it and if he is, I'm glad, but I don't think I'll be letting any TV luvvies 'interpret' what I've written in quite the same way.



Anonymous said...

I agree with you stuart.
Sirens was extremely rude and had (in my opinion) no relation to blood sweat and tea.
Even though its fiction it didnt have the feel of scrubs or other fiction medical dramas. it took the mick out of the ambulance service and basicly saying that only firemen are `fit`.


Major said...

What did you think of the paramedics in Third Watch?

Anonymous said...

Where do you think the bias against paramedics on TV there comes from? While there haven't been any shows dedicated to paramedics here in USA, most(not all) who are portrayed in medical or police dramas are intelligent, competent, and often sexy too!
I can't speak for others but what I loved about Scrubs was that it didn't discriminate, all the characters had their moments to be laughed at, and yet despite the humor, they balanced that with moments of humanity.

Anonymous said...

A link to Brian's new blog on the subject of Sirens:


Fiz said...

Sorry, but I was so unimpressed by the idle writing and cheap characterizations that I read through the second half of it. Lazy writing and plotting!

Jake said...

I have to say that I didn't mind the program Sirens at all - and actually enjoyed it. In my opinion, it seemed equally offensive towards both the Police and Fire service as it did towards the Ambulance service - which, in a way, evens things out slightly - as I think it says more about the type of program it is, than the people/workers/services in it - although your right that Scrubs managed to portray doctors in a humerus yet unoffensive way.

Maybe that's just American TV for you - I have yet to find a Modern English TV program which doesn't get its laughs from offending someone/something in some way.

I did though find Sirens way less offensive than a different Ambulance program which was on BBC3 quite a while ago - and I truly found that program ridiculously offensive (Was called DOA - I think it was axed after the Pilot episode - and to be honest, I'm glad.)

I also tend to agree that this program has nothing to do with Blood, sweat and tea - and the only similarity is that both are about Ambulance Technicians.

On another note, there's currently a program on Sky1 which is called Emergency with Angela Griffin - and I feel this is a very good documentary series on the Ambulance Service - and has so far covered the different areas of the West Midlands Ambulance Service, including footage of ambulance responding to multiple different calls, the roles of ISO's, HART and BASICS - as well as several covering Paramedics and Technicians.

Anyway, it's nice to see you posting again - and I look forward to reading your new book when it's released - I read the first few chapters and was hooked. Would there be any way to access a non-ebook from the start?


Jammy said...

'every single TV or movie based pre-hospital care professional I've seen has been depicted as low-class and subservient to doctors and nurses (in my opinion)'
- Spot on!

I work for GWAS- Though only on PTS (At the moment) I have a fairly good knowledge of life on A&E and cringe to watch this programme!

I agree 100% with everything you've said!

(Looking forward to the book release!)

Jammy said...

'every single TV or movie based pre-hospital care professional I've seen has been depicted as low-class and subservient to doctors and nurses (in my opinion)'
Spot on!

I work for GWAS - Though only on PTS(at the moment...) I have a fairly good idea of life on A&E and cringed while I watched! Will it continue with a second series? I can't see it happening... Thank god.

P.S, looking forward to getting your latest book!

Anonymous said...

I understand what you're saying. I don't think it should claim to be based on 'blood, sweat and tea', I've read that book and can not really see how it's based on it at all. And you're right the research is piss poor.

But it is a bit of fiction and it's no worse than the portrail of nurses in shows like 'No Angels' or 'Holby City' or various other medical shows.

In TV writers land it's only doctors that matter.

Anonymous said...

The great thing about paramedic blogs is that those compelled to write it, stop harassing their colleagues in the mess room with their emergency stories. Reynolds blog and novel was a vanity project and it shows.
So since you now tasted some your own medicine while trying to chill out on a Monday night, why don't you just get on with your day-job and find yourself a nice hobby for your days off?
Their lives in your hand!

Jay said...

I personally found the show entertaining but from reading your blog, it doesn't portray the real Ambulance Service or the true work of Paramedics. I too noticed the EMT sleeves though I don't believe they have stated they are Paramedics apart from the programme synopsis on Sky+. All I can say is that it does a give a insight into the 'time wasting' side of the career and I'm sure many Ambulance Service Workers' wish they could drop a drunk and run off to the 'juicy' calls. I guess any press is good press.

Xf said...


All written works are vanity projects. I have plenty of hobbies and interests outside of work but one of them isn't reading or watching things that 'compel' me to make hollow comments just for the sake of it. I suggest YOU get yourself a nice hobby instead.

Thanks for visiting.

Xf said...


You might be right. TV land is a special place but even a programme like this needs to be cautious about its potrayal of people who walk into the homes of others to care for them.

It is fiction and I have written my own far-fetched stories for the sake of fiction but TV is somehow different; people tend to believe its a mirror on what really goes on.

Xf said...


Yes, I remember a programme that never took off; it was pretty bad indeed.

Documentaries are, on the whole, very good to us and portray things as they are. The current fly-on-the-wall around Kings College Hospital is very good and none of my colleagues get to look ridiculous in it, which is how it should be.

I can't afford to print the book, I'm afraid. There's no publisher out there for me - the state of the economy has dragged the industry down. So, it's got to be electronic. I'm sorry - I love a proper book myself but the cost of producing the novel on paper would be too high for me.

It's finished now and editing will be completed by the end of this month, so hopefully its out in August!

Xf said...


Thanks for the link. I notice in the comments that his readers are definitely split about this and a few have made the same comments as me; that the script and story is badly researched.

It's just not funny but everyone has their own sense of humour I guess.

Xf said...


'Where do you think the bias against paramedics on TV there comes from?'

I really don't know but I completely agree with you about Scrubs especially, which I loved. It was irreverant but clever and very funny. And yes, everyone had a part to play without prejudice, as it should be.

I think it's all about the writing but it's interesting that you say nothing has been made about paramedics in the US... why do TV people think we are all either 'on the edge' (Nicholas Cage in Bringing out the dead), incompetent, fat and covered in tatoos (Casualty, etc) or loud-mouthed and arrogant to our colleagues and peers (Sirens, etc)?

There must be some way to change the mould; we are typecast.

Xf said...


I can't comment. I've never seen it. Have you got a link to an episode?

Christian said...

Hopefully this is still in topic!

I enjoyed watching London HEMS, as I know nothing about them and wanted an insight as to what their line of work was after reading "A Paramedic's Diary".

^^ I found the book hilarious and had me actually gasping in a "Woah!" kind of way.


Kerryn said...

Ive not seen the said show yet but must agree with the general bad state of "TV paramedics". The current Australian equivalent, Rescue Special Ops, does show them in a rather more favourable light but has extended their role so that the show is more exciting. Im not sure how I feel about this given that it detracts from the job theyre meant to be doing and overall seems to create a try hard vibe for the characters. Bit of a disappointment that nobody seems to be able to get the pre hospital vibe right.

JT said...

Nice to see you blogging again!

Kevin said...

Sirens isn't supposed to be available here in the US but I did manage to see the 1st episode. Some parts were entertaining but on the whole I thought is wasn't very well done and the humor seemed very forced. Real life EMS has plenty of drama and humor but TV productions never seem to get it right (and we did have an attempt at EMS drama here in the USA: the short lived "Trauma" series, which was very bad as well).

James said...


I realise I am entering the debate a little late however I have now watched a few episodes of Sirens (mainly because the knob-jokes are quite amusing) and think it needs a defence of sorts.

As a keen reader of this blog as well as a volunteer with St. John Ambulance I have encountered many ambulance service personnel over the years and none of them have been the boorish oafs portrayed in this series.

However the programme does touch on a number of points that I think the public may not be fully aware of. Examples include the endless mopping up of drunks, the emergency calls for stubbed toes and the grief from superiors about not meeting targets. Also raised was the fact that those working in the emergency services have to experience some horrific situations as part of their daily life and are not immune from adverse consequences. The dark humour needed to cope with this is touched on ("I bet she's fit under the bruises") although it appears secondary to macho male banter.

Finally, the attitude of the public towards ambulance service is shown from the, "I pay your wages... you are my servant" line to the condescending medical student who thinks the only beings not subservient to them are consultants.

Unfortunately all these themes are not explored in sufficient depth but I would argue that airing them in the first place is at least a step towards progress which will hopefully lead to greater understanding of the work of ambulance services across the country. Anecdotal experience suggests that too few people understand the contribution that pre-hospital care makes to patient recovery (I have had to explain that paramedic is not a synonym for taxi driver to my girlfriend, a final year medical student, and her mother, a hospital consultant) so surely anything that will promote a degree of understanding and awareness is a good thing? On that note, Stuart; thank you for writing this blog and explaining so clearly the work you and your colleagues do. The sensitivity and humanity you show for all those around you is both humbling and inspirational and should be held up as an example to us all.

Good luck with the book, I for one am looking forward to reading it.


Anonymous said...

Is the role of Rescue: Special Ops kind of like that of a HART team?

I'm really interested in joining HART, anyone have any useful blogs or websites?