24 Hours in the ER

Common Sense Media says

Compelling, graphic docuseries in London ER.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show illustrates the importance of self-sacrifice in the service of helping others, especially those injured or in especially desperate need.

Positive role models

The doctors and nurses depicted on the series provide strong positive examples of the redeeming value of choosing medicine as a life's work. Some of the patients demonstrate poor modeling due to the bad decisions that lead to their injuries, for example, a man who stands incorrectly on a ladder and falls.


There is no violence on the series. However, there is frequent and occasionally graphic depictions of real-life medical injuries, including bloody wounds, severe bodily trauma, and unedited sequences in which doctors treat those injuries.

Not applicable

Occasional use of words like "s--t," as well as more frequent "damn" and "hell." British colloquial slang is also frequent including "bloody" as an adjective.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One of the more common ailments treated by doctors on the series is alcoholism and the painful injuries that can often happen when alcohol is abused. These patients are depicted in their fully-inebriated states.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this documentary series provides a very real and unflinching look at events on an average day in the busiest emergency room in London, England. The camera does not turn away from occasionally graphic injuries and the techniques doctors use to treat those injuries. Squeamish viewers who are uncomfortable with the sight of blood should watch very cautiously. For older teens, the series provides a compelling look at the realities of the medical profession.

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What's the story?

London's King's College Hospital is one of the busiest emergency rooms in England, serving 60,000 people daily and treating 350 of them in the major trauma unit. For the documentary series 24 HOURS IN THE ER, crews utilized filming techniques perfected on reality series to wire the King's College ER with over 14 miles of camera cable, 70 remote cameras, and a crew filming 24 hours a day for 28 days. The resulting series provides an unprecedented glimpse into the true reality of the life and death scenarios faced many times a day by these medical professionals.

Is it any good?


Throw a Nielsen box in any direction and you're likely to hit a medical show. Whether a sensitive drama about flirty doctors or a sensationalized reality-style series about outlandish medical events ("I was pregnant and I didn't know it!"), medicine is big on TV. 24 Hours in the ER manages to carve out some unique ground by focusing on the unvarnished reality of day-to-day medicine in one of the UK's most active emergency rooms.
The production team basically wired London's King's College hospital like the house on Big Brother, with discrete cameras and microphones throughout. This helped them capture moments big and small -- the arrival of heavily-injured extreme trauma patients brings an avalanche of hands into the unit to assist, while at a quiet counter, a doctor grabs a very fast bite of food before rushing away to continue work. At a time when TV doctors seem too busy hooking up with one another or chatting with ghosts to perform actual medicine, 24 Hours is a compelling change of pace.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the impact of the show's depiction of graphic injuries. Are they less disturbing because they are shown in a documentary context as opposed to a fictional one?

  • Does this show make you want to be a doctor? Why or why not?

TV details

Network:BBC America
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-14

This review of 24 Hours in the ER was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 17 years old Written byabbacus September 12, 2012

Don't bother.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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