On 11 February 1958, the BBC first televised Your Life in Their Hands, presented by Charles Fletcher from the Royal College of Physicians.
At a preview, two journalists felt faint watching a mitral valvotomy.
Within days, a BMJ editorial said it was demeaning for doctors and nurses to appear as mummers on the stage to entertain the great British public. People’s anxiety about their health would be heightened, increasing hypochondria and neurosis. Hopefully a death would not be televised.
The Nursing Times was also worried about the risk that patients with cancer might come to know their diagnosis.
While questions were asked in the House of Commons, some MPs were in favour and few protests were received. The series continued for four years and was later revived. Doctors had to live with this window into their private world.
- For a fuller account of the events, see www.nhshistory.net