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Series 1, Episode 2 - Second. The Lady's Abscess

Quacks. Image shows from L to R: Robert (Rory Kinnear), John (Tom Basden), William (Mathew Baynton). Copyright: Lucky Giant
William and Caroline meet the renowned author Charles Dickens, whilst a volunteer named Florence Nightingale arrives at the hospital.

Preview clips

Further details

Caroline bags an invitation to meet her hero, Charles Dickens. William finds himself in an awkward position when he exaggerates how much of a fan he is, when he hasn't read a single page of Dickens. An excruciating evening ensues when William escorts Caroline to a dinner party at Dickens's house.

Meanwhile, John finds himself with a new protégé when he takes an orphan under his wing, and Robert meets his match when a forthright, uppity young volunteer called Florence Nightingale arrives at the hospital and starts interfering in his work. With Dr Hendrick keen to curry favour with Nightingale and her influential family, Robert has to work out how to get rid of her.

Broadcast details

Tuesday 22nd August 2017
30 minutes


Show past repeats

Date Time Channel
Thursday 26th July 2018 10:00pm BBC2
Wednesday 8th August 2018 11:45pm BBC2 Wales

Cast & crew

Rory Kinnear Robert
Mathew Baynton William
Tom Basden John
Lydia Leonard Caroline
Rupert Everett Dr. Hendrick
Geoffrey McGivern Landlord
Guest cast
Andrew Scott Charles Dickens
Matt Harrop Condemned Man
Milly Thomas Florence Nightingale
Austin Taylor Little Ollie
Elizabeth Counsell Lady Neilson-Toy
Robin Hooper Mr Bradbury
Michael Mears Robert's Staff
Writing team
James Wood Writer
Production team
Andy de Emmony Director
Imogen Cooper Producer
Justin Davies Executive Producer
James Wood Executive Producer
Rachel Hillman Executive Producer
Ben Worsfield Co-producer
Robin Peters Editor
Lucy Spink Production Designer
Rachel Freck Casting Director
Richard Cooke Costume Designer
Ed Rutherford Director of Photography
Niamh Morrison Make-up Designer
Ian Arber Composer
Matthew Scrivener 1st Assistant Director


William meets Charles Dickens

William is put in an awkward situation by Charles Dickens.

Featuring: Mathew Baynton (William), Lydia Leonard (Caroline), Andrew Scott (Charles Dickens) & Robin Hooper (Mr Bradbury).


When Caroline blags an invite to her hero Charles Dickens's dinner party, William also pretends to be a fan and goes along, too. Andrew Scott plays Dickens brilliantly as a doom-filled fop lapping up compliments while knocking back the sauce. Elsewhere, Florence Nightingale wants the surgeons to clean their instruments as she assists in the case of a woman with a haemorrhoid "perhaps the size of a Christmas walnut". Excellent fun.

Hannah Verdier, The Guardian, 22nd August 2017

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