One is the BBC’s much-hyped one-take Casualty episode, which could be said to be two, because there’s a pre-credits scene before it cuts to those. However, the programme has been extended by five minutes to account for this, so before we get to the main event, the opening credits also allow for editing out the time it would take to get from the flame-filled house to somewhere closer to the hospital (think ‘24‘ during the adverts)
Also, along for the ride, observing Duffy’s shift for an hour, are two schoolgirls, one of whom is called Diamond, and both look age 20+… but I nit-pick. Their job is to help the narrative move around the hospital in what is a British TV first and, on a technical level, works very well as the size of the set allows for the camera to swing around large rooms so no-one crashes into anyone else or the camera.
In a hospital where people die all the time, one doctor corpsed around 20 minutes in… although that means he started cracking up rather than snuffing it, following what happened to one of the girls.
There are a couple of moments where it gets a bit ‘Hollywood stupid’, such as when one paramedic in the opening scene declares over-emotionally, “We’re not losing anyone today!”, and another time with the drumsticks resolution, but despite that, One had a pretty decent storyline holding everything together.
And while the majority of it was all done in one-take, there’s obviously some CGI early on, so there’s no danger for the actors as they rescue a woman from the burning building at the start.
A piece on BBC News showed how the cameraman is sometimes on a harness, so they can quickly be transported between floors when the action moves from one to a higher or lower one. Also, eight takes of this were done in total, following two weeks of rehearsals, and it’s the final take which was used in the show.
If you enjoyed this format, I also recommend Clive Owen’s Children of Men, directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity), which contained some very long one-take scenes of up to 25 minutes. And for something that really breaks the mould, the brilliant Victoria, starring Laia Costa, a film set during one night in Berlin which runs for 139 minutes!
And on a TV side of things, the cast of ER once performed an episode live – 1997’s season four opener, Ambush. In fact, they did it twice, covering two different time-zones in the US.
I do have to ask – why didn’t they name the episode ‘One Shot‘ rather than ‘One‘? Okay, so there was also an episode with that title in October 2015, but for a programme that’s been running over 30 years, I’m sure we can allow them a little duplication.
Oh, and it also needed a lot more Lily Chao. Where was the lovely Crystal Yu for the majority of the episode??
Casualty – One isn’t available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, and is unlikely to be, but the episode is available to watch on BBC iPlayer for 30 days. Also, click on the top image for the full-size version.
Director: Jon Sen
Producer: Erika Hossington
Writer: Paul Unwin
Charlie Fairhead: Derek Thompson
Connie Beauchamp: Amanda Mealing
Lisa ‘Duffy’ Duffin: Cathy Shipton
Jacob Masters: Charles Venn
Elle Gardner: Jaye Griffiths
Ethan Hardy: George Rainsford
Alicia Munroe: Chelsea Halfpenny
Iain Dean: Michael Stevenson
Lily Chao: Crystal Yu
Louise Tyler: Azuka Oforka
Jez Andrews: Lloyd Everitt
Dylan Keogh: William Beck
David Hide: Jason Durr
Max Walker: Jamie Davis
Robyn Miller: Amanda Henderson
Diamond Whittaker: Georgia Sandle
Chloe Robinson: Kassius Nelson
Dougie Cox: Sule Rimi
Andrew Sully: Gordon Kennedy
Chrissie Cox: Dajay Brown
Sun-Mi: Aewia Huillet
Jerry Kennedy: Trevor Cooper
Candice-Marie Kennedy: Jenna Boyd
Di Hawkins: Jenny Platt
Rose Thomas: Pameli Benham
Gormless: Harry Lovell-Jones
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.