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The classic setting for sitcoms and soaps used to be the home or the neighbourhood. Now drama is focused on work-based or social identities

By David Herman   June 2006

Cops and docs have always been popular on British television. From Dr Kildare and Z Cars in the early 1960s to ER, Morse and The Bill, they have been the most consistently successful television genres of all. Cowboys may come and reality television may go, but police and hospital dramas are always with us.

What is different today is not just their popularity but their diversity. Casualty and Holby City, Dalziel and Pascoe and The Bill pull in audiences of between 5.5m and 7.3m with their formula of soaps and human interest. At the time of writing, four of BBC1’s…

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