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BMJ launches soap opera

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 16 November 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:1131
  1. Rhona MacDonald
  1. BMJ

    Martha Millstone, a domineering surgeon, is due to take centre stage in the BMJ's new weekly soap opera, starting on 29 November.

    Ms Millstone is clinical director at Murkton Moor, a failing NHS trust, which has just been the subject of a visit from the Commission for Health Improvement. Unfortunately for the trust, the man from the commission found a dead body—by the cupboard where the audit reports should have been filed. Sound familiar?

    Nicola Sharp, a specialist registrar in psychiatry from Warrington, Cheshire, won the BMJ's competition to write the soap opera. It will appear in the Career focus section of BMJ Careers and also on, which will have additional material such as profiles of the characters (and cartoons of them) and a synopsis of the story so far.

    One hundred and forty people entered the competition.

    “I was impressed both by the high number of responses and by the high quality of the 50 or so that I read,” said Richard Smith, editor of the BMJ. “I've judged creative writing competitions before, and often the standard is embarrassing. But many of the entries to this competition had everything—acute insights, sex, death, irony, and humour. They also showed a lot of pain among doctors.”

    The judges were Jed Mercurio and John Hodge, both doctors and also script writers for films and television. They selected an initial shortlist of eight and helped the BMJ to choose the final top three.

    It was a close thing, but Nicola came out on top. “I was amazed that I made it to the last three entries,” Nicola admitted.

    “I think it is very important that a soap opera should have a strong plot, be fun and also relevant to working in the NHS today,” she said.

    The first instalment of “Misplaced Trust” will be acted out by Radio 4's Round Midnight theatre group at the BMJ's careers fair on Saturday 30 November.

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