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The bleak Miss Winters

SHOCK! Casualty, BBC1, 8.20pm

In a world of vastly depleted natural resources, Casualty doesn't usually match the recycling targets of The Bill (or indeed Holby City) for sheer volume of recognisable people (‘actors’, if you will) who were pretend people (‘characters') in other things but are now pretend people ('characters') in this thing, but there’s always a little room (‘cubicle’) in Holby City Hospital’s emergency department for recognisable people (‘actors’) from other long-running serial dramas (‘seridrams’) to find a new home. Slightly worryingly, it’s a Brookside-heavy cast at the moment, with old hand Suzanne Packer recently joined by fellow former Brookie babes/Liver birds/Scouse skirt etc Sunetra Sarker and Gillian Kearney. So if the lead goes missing from the hospital roof, you know which lockers to check first. (Sorry!)

However, queen of the current Casualty soap graduates is, of course, frosty Brand New Doctor Ruth Winters, played by the phenomenally talented and hugely sympathetic Georgia Taylor, aka Our Toyah Battersby from Coronation Street. During her initial shifts, her main function seemed to be to make endearingly hapless fellow Brand New Doctor Toby look even more useless, with Ruth effortlessly breezing through advanced brain surgery and transfiguration while Toby struggled to thread a needle and operate double doors. But after twenty-four weeks (twenty-four weeks!), Toby’s confidence has grown and his colleagues have taken him to their collective bosom, while Ruth’s offhand manner and relentless ambition have left her on the periphery of the team alongside the warm corpses, lab rats and MRSA.

But naturally Ruth's aloof for a reason. Her drunken father hit her! Her depressed mother killed herself! Charlie Fairhead snapped at her on her first day! Only last week, a Banksyesque graffiti artist painted a big, beautiful mural of the Holby staff, but depicted Ruth without a face! And every so often she slips up badly and goes to great lengths to conceal her mistakes. Which she usually manages to do, but not tonight. So Ruth goes on to do something rather extreme and not entirely expected, and the world quite literally (not literally, obviously) falls apart.

Basically, after twenty-one years (twenty-one years!), including at least ten years in the doldrums with generally draggy plots and irritating characters, Casualty is really, properly good again, and Georgia Taylor is a major force in this resurgence of goodness. And the mediseridram continues to entice and impress next week, with the ridiculously hot Rhys Thomas from Star Stories guest starring as the team look back over events leading up to tonight's 'thing', while Harry Harper leafs through Ruth's diary and, presumably, furrows his brow a lot. Hindsightastic! And very sad.

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According to Marxist theory, cultural forms such as opera, classical music and the literary works of Shakespeare all fall under the heading of high culture. Low culture refers to a wide variety of cultural themes that are characterised by their consumption by the masses. We might not be Marxists, but we do know we loved Footballers Wives. If you do too, you'll know what this is all about.

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