Children’s Ward is a British children’s television drama series produced by Granada Television and broadcast on the ITV network as part of its Children’s ITV strand on weekday afternoons. The programme was set – as the title suggests – in Ward B1, the children’s ward of the fictitious South Park Hospital, and told the stories of the young patients and the staff present there. Aimed at older children and teenagers, Children’s Ward was a long-lived series for a children’s drama, starting life in 1988 as a contribution to the Dramarama anthology strand, “Blackbird Singing In The Dead of Night”, then first broadcast as a series 1989 and running from then until 2000.
The series was conceived by Granada staff writers Paul Abbott and Kay Mellor, both of whom went on to enjoy successful careers as award-winning writers of adult television drama. At the time, they were both working on the soap opera Coronation Street, and had recently collaborated on a script for Dramarama.
Abbott, who had been through a troubled childhood himself, had initially wanted to set the series in a children’s care home rather than a hospital, but this was vetoed by Granada executives. During the course of its run, however, Children’s Ward won many plaudits for covering difficult issues such as cancer, alcoholism, drug addiction and child abuse in a sensitive manner. The programme won many awards, including in 1996 a BAFTA Children’s Award for Best Drama, won by an episode in which a serial killer lures children to him via the internet and is – highly unusually for children’s television – not eventually caught.