I can’t believe that on the 10th May nearly 28 years ago I started watching a series by Carlton TV on ITV called Peak Practice… Although I only watched the first series… because something else came on that we both liked, I have to say I am so pleased I found the entire 12 series’s on UKTV Play
The story revolves around a GP practice in a fictitious town called Cardale in the Yorkshire Dales. The Beeches, is run by Dr Beth Glover (Amanda Burton) who is senior partner and Dr Will Preston (Simon Shepherd). Beth returned to Cardale to work with her father when he became ill and The Beeches is her home and her baby. Beth doesn’t like change, happy and content with the way the Beeches is running Beth is reluctant to make changes for changes sake.
The Beeches is looking for a new Dr… when in walks Dr Jack Kerruish (Kevin Whately). Well let’s just say his interview doesn’t go as planned. However, reluctantly Beth and Will agree to give Jack a chance. Immediately, the chemistry is there between Jack and Beth, and during the first three seasons, we see them marry, Beth suffering a miscarriage, the loss of her best friend Isabel de Gines (Sylvia Syms), Jack returning to Africa for a while before returning to Cardale and Will suffering a nervous breakdown.
Each episode revolves around the village people and their ailments. The characters are likeable and you begin to love each and everyone of them, even Alice North (Margery Mason), the cantankerous elderly patient, who has been part of Cardale since time began.
Jack and Beth are married…. and no matter what life throws at them… they are determined to make their marriage work. Jack and Beth’s love is deep and true. Even through Beth’s miscarriage Jack is there for Beth. Even his return for a few months to Africa made both of them realise how much they mean to each other and they will be there for each other through thick and thin.
Season 3 ends with Beth and Jack leaving Cardale, to travel and to come to terms with Beth’s miscarriage and to later try for another child. They leave the Beeches in the hands of Will who then hires Dr’s Andrew Attwood (dishy Gary Mavers) and Dr Erica Matthews (Saskia Wickham). And at the start of Series 5 along comes Dr David Shearer (Adrian Lukis).
So a few weeks ago I found the series on UKTV Play and have watched it from the very first episode until last night when I watched episode 1 of Series 8…
For the last 7 seasons, we have seen, Dr Will Preston, divorce from his wife Sarah (Jacqueline Leonard) after not coming to terms with her affair. We have seen him suffer manic depression, lose his family when Sarah moved the boys to the USA and then find love again and eventually find love again marry another Doctor called Kate (Shelagh McLeod) after the birth of their daughter. Kate finds it hard especially when they are told Emily has Cystic Fibrosis. Kate and Will, after getting married, leave Cardale to move to Bristol to get the best treatment for their sick baby girl. Will is sad to leave Cardale and the Beeches but leaves it in the hands of Erica, Andrew and David. As he follows Kate and Emily in his car as they head for Bristol in an ambulance, Will stops on the side of the road, looks down at the Beeches and whispers “Goodbye”, leaving the Beeches in the hands of Andrew, Erica and David.
Andrew who is married to Kirsty (Sukie Smith) start having marital problems, Kirsty can’t settle in Cardale and it leads to Kirsty leaving Cardale to return to Liverpool. Andrew’s depression deepens and there is a complaint made against Andrew by a female patient. Eventually the patient admits she has been lying and the case against Andrew is dropped. Due to the stresses and strains of his personal life, Andrew’s depression deepens, Erica tells Kirsty and Kirsty returns to Cardale.
Andrew feeling guilty about his fling with Erica is torn as to whether or not he should tell Kirsty the truth. He does, and even through the betrayal that Kirsty feels, she tries to make their marriage work, and Andrew agrees to return to Liverpool with Kirsty. On their way to their farewell do at the Beeches, Kirsty decides that she is returning to Liverpool without Andrew and that their marriage is not what it was and decides to separate from Andrew.
Love doesn’t come easy for Andrew, eventually Erica and Andrew grow close, and Andrew proposes to Erica who turns him down. Erica, who is adopted wants to find her roots and real family, and marriage doesn’t fall within her plans for the moment, leaving Andrew alone once again.
During the first five seasons, we see the lives of the Cardale doctors as they juggle their professional and personal lives. Andrew returns to Liverpool to look after his estranged mother who is dying of cancer.
Andrew nurses his mum and they finally make their peace before her death.
Series 5/6 brings us Erica and Andrew getting close again and this time it is Erica who proposes to Andrew who accepts. Andrew goes full steam ahead with making the wedding the best day of their lives. However, things don’t go as planned, disaster strikes with caterers saying they can’t organise the wedding reception, along with other downfalls and disasters. With the worst yet to come!
On the day of the wedding, Erica has second thoughts… Dawn Rudge (Sarah Parish) tells Erica she is a fool not to wed Andrew. Andrew arrives late at the church due to helping a sick person in town, whilst picking up his suit, but there is still no bridge. Finally the wedding cars arrives and David (who is outside the church waiting for the bride) calls Andrew out of the Church to Erica standing there in her coat and jeans telling Andrew she can’t go through with the Wedding.
Erica leaves Cardale and David and Andrew employ Dr Joanna Graham (Haydn Gwynne), who leaves her surgery position at the hospital after she arranges for an air ambulance to rescue a rally car accident in which Andrew was driving with his mate Ronnie, without consent of the hospital. Andrew who is injured has to tell his friend the only way to save this life is to amputate his lower leg that is trapped in the wreckage.
Life isn’t easy for David Shearer either, his wife Clare (first played by Yolanda Varquez and then Fiona Gillies) is a manic depressive who spends time in a mental health institution coming to terms with her illness, leaving David to bring up his two children alone.
When Clare is released from hospital, things are tough for her, and feels her medication is not making who she really is. With the help of David and Andrew Clare comes to terms with her illness and returns to work. Clare then finds out she is pregnant and fears that she will become ill again, because she has to stop taking her medication during her pregnancy.
It is during Erica’s hen night at a Casino that Clare goes into labour and her baby is delivered by the Beeches Receptionist Kim Beardsmore (Esther Coles) and her boyfriend Billy in that back of a taxi on their way to the hospital, as Erica is too drunk to deliver the baby.
However, with Baby William only being a few months old, David Shearer’s life becomes more complicated, when he treats Alice North’s granddaughter who has returned from living in the States for Leukemia as they still have British Citizenship. Nicki returns with her mother Patricia Davey (Annette Ekblom) and Patricia and David who have known one another since childhood rekindle their love for each other.
Nicki, receives a bone marrow transplant from her nan Alice and makes a full recovery. Patricia tells David she is returning to the States in a couple of days… David makes a decision that will change everyone’s lives forever.
That evening a Down’s Syndrome patient David is treating leaves the care home… David looks for Jason his patient and finds him walking along a road. David walks with him, and they talk and fate happens. A speeding motorcyclist speeds along the country lanes heading towards Jason. David leaps in to save Jason putting his own life on the line. Andrew and Joanna rush to David and Andrew frantically tries to save David’s life. His final words to Andrew were to tell Patricia that he was leaving Clare for her.
Andrew and Joanna return to Clare’s home to break the tragic news… David is dead.
A drug addict steals Patricia’s purse when she drops it in shock on hearing about David’s death as she buys flowers the next morning. Andrew treats and helps the drug addict she returns the purse to Andrew and asks him to give it back to the lady. Unbeknown to Andrew when looking inside he finds out that it is Patricia’s purse and returns it to her and tells her that David was leaving Clare for her and that he loved her.
Clare visits Patricia and asks for the truth… Patricia tells her that she and David became close during Nicki’s treatment and that they didn’t mean to but ended up having an affair.
Patricia and Nicki leave Cardale and David is buried. Andrew stands in front of the congregation and reads a piece of poetry that the female drug addict who David treated had written. David had told her she had talent and he would help her kick the bad habit.
Clare and the children leave Cardale for Spain.
In the final few episodes Andrew is attracted to Dawn, who is now the receptionist at the Beeches since Kim’s departure and Joanna and Andrew welcome Dr Sam Morgan to the Beeches. Sam treats a pregnant woman who finds out halfway through her pregnancy she has cervical cancer. Ali decides that she will do whatever it takes to save her baby… even if it means putting her own life on the line. At 24 weeks, Ali collapses and an emergency cesarean is carried out, due to the cancer being spread to her other organs, and a decision is made that they deliver Ali’s baby. Ali delivers a baby girl. Due to to her premature birth Ali can’t hold her due to her being in an incubator… Ali suffers cardiac arrest and dies without holding her baby. Sam goes to the hospital and Ali’s death takes its toll on him.
Meanwhile the village are having a barn dance to raise funds to buy and maintain the community hospital which the local health authority are threatening to close down. Joanna tells them that the hospital has been granted a stay… as the dance ends, Joanna sees Sam and he breakdowns in her arms over Ali’s death.
Season 7 ends with Clare returning to Cardale and wanting to sell the Beeches…. her solicitor has told her that because David purchased Erica’s share of the partnership she has 66% control and would get £300,000 if they sold the Beeches as a residential property. Andrew tries to persude Clare but she tells him that she must think of her children’s future and that she wishes to stay in touch with Andrew, before leaving Cardale for good and heading back to Spain.
Is this the end for the Beeches… Unfortunately, it is… Until Sam takes Andrew to a disused building and says this could be the new Beeches. Andrew agrees and later they all return to the disused building and agree it will be a great place for the Beeches to return with Joanna agreeing to become a Partner in the new practice and Dawn and Andrew becoming public about their relationship as a couple.