Before the young doctors we had? ----- Yes General hospital !
Back in the 1970's afternoon TV was awful. Although during school holidays the networks did made an effort to put on suitable shows for the kids, but if you were off school due to sickness or there was a teachers strike all you had was the dreary Crown Court, or the mundane Emerdale farm followed by an old movie with either Jack Warner or Richard Greene in it. But General hospital was a soap opera which was bearable. Ironically This soap did not flounder as badly as say Albion Market or Eldorado but neither did it last as long as say Brookeside.
It was a hospital soap with all of the usual goings on that you would imagine in a hospital, it was not a heavy drama although it had it's moments but although not a comedy it did have it's lighter moments. too. I think the hospital was based in the Midlands although I can't be sure.
Stand out characters were the patriarchal head surgeon Dr Armstrong, the gruff and no nonsense Dr Parker Brown of the old school and the smooth housewife's choice Dr Bywaters (who after hanging up his stethoscope moved into the motel business became the scheming Adam Chance on Crossroads). Lastly the campy devious orderly "Caper" who was never far from the main plot lines of the day.
The staff remained virtually the same during the period 1975-76 when I saw it but what made it interesting was the rotation of the patients through out that run. Typical national heath they got you in and out, no hanging about!
General Hospital by the mid 70's was broadcast at about 4 p.m. and came on just before children's television and built up a following as consequence. In fact it was a 30 min episode each day but in 1976 the series was canceled on the existing format but returned to the screens months later for just one hour per week with very few of the original cast in it. It's a shame that it happened because clearly their was a market for hospital or medical soaps as the a few years later afternoon TV was full of Australian shows such as the young doctors , the country practice and the flying doctors.