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Takin’ Over The Asylum (BBC-2 1994, Ken Stott, David Tennant)

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Drama serial. Eddie, an out of work DJ, takes a job running the radio station in a mental hospital.

Ken Stott headlines (in one of his first big roles) as Eddie McKenna, a late 30 something double glazing salesman whose real love is DJing, when he is let go from his local hospital radio job (to be replaced by a very young Ashley Jenson) he takes on a post at St Judes mental asylum where he actually discovers a new lease of life. McKenna befriends a young manic depressive, Campbell (David Tennant) who not only fixes up the ailing radio room at St Judes but also looks like getting the name of the radio station known on a national basis.

It’s brilliant stuff, cracking dialogue and wonderful performances, from Stotts world weary alcoholic McKenna to Tennant all bright eyed and bushy tailed. Mental institutions are still a contentious subject for drama these days but back in 1994 it was a real no no however Franceschild and director David Blair tackle the subject with sensitivity and some liberal splashes of humour.

Highly deserving of its BAFTA for best drama serial.

production details
UK / BBC Two / 6×50 minutes / 1994

Writer: Donna Franceschild
Producer: Chris Parr
Director: David Blair

cast
Ken Stott as Eddie
David Tennant as Campbell
David Robb as Dr Cairns
Ashley Jensen as Kathleen
Katy Murphy as Francine
Jon Morrison as Jim
Ron Donachie as Petrie
Sandra Voe as Evelyn
Elizabeth Spriggs as Grandma
Angus Macfadyen as Fergus
Angela Bruce as Isabel
Ruth McCabe as Rosalie
Kenneth Bryans as Stuart
Matt Costello as Alastair
Derek Anders as Billy
Gavin Mitchell as Hector
Molly Innes as Margaret
Roy Hanlon as Griffin
Nell Brennan as Sheila
Caroline Paterson as Jane
Ronnie McCann as Lavery
Arabella Weir as Paula
Paul Blair as Webster
Jake D’Arcy as Electrician
Liz Smith as Harriet
Kika Markham as Dr Hollis
Martin McCardie as Carpenter
June Watson as Mrs Wyatt
Michael Sheard as Mr Wyatt
Colin McCredie as Photographer
Spike Milligan as Himself