Award-winning screenwriter Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice, Middlemarch, Bridget Jones' Diary, Bleak House) screened and discussed clips from his BAFTA-winning 1986 series, A Very Peculiar Practice. The event was chaired by Dr. Katherine Angel, research fellow in the Centre for the History of Medicine.
Andrew Davies taught at Warwick for 16 years, from 1971 to 1987, and 'A Very Peculiar Practice' is shaped by his time at the university.
It is set on the campus of Lowlands University, a new university beset by leaky roofs and cut-throat managerialism. Stephen Daker – the 'New Man' - is a fresh-faced, well-meaning new doctor at the university health practice. Jock McCannon, his boss, is a passionate holist and whisky-drinker fond of diagnosing the psychosexual ailments of his patients, colleagues, and indeed the University as a whole. Rose Marie is a feminist who believes that illness is something that men do to women. Bob Buzzard is far more interested in his computer and its diagnostic potential than his patients. And all four are under pressure from the Thatcherite policies embodied in Ernest Hemingway, the Vice-Chancellor.
'A Very Peculiar Practice' is a delightfully biting satire of universities in an age of Thatcher-led cutbacks; of sexual politics in a context marked by both feminism and the radical psychiatric theories of RD Laing; of the language of 'phallocentrism' in newly emerging academic disciplines; and of both psychoanalytic and pharmaceutical approaches to patients. All of this with a lightness of touch that ensured a hit series.