Casualty 1906 (BBC1); Victoria Cross Heroes (five): A man with blood pouring from his slashed throat arrived at casualty seeking medical attention.

"You'll have to wait three minutes," said the security guard looking at his watch.

No, the NHS hasn't come to this - we've travelled back 100 years to The London Hospital for a slice of medical life in what was then the most advanced emergency hospital in Britain. This wasn't a grim reconstruction of bygone days, but an odd mix of medical history and Mills and Boon romance.

The bleeding man was eventually admitted - after matron finished saying prayers - and his wound sewn up, although his future wasn't bright as suicide was an offence. Perhaps they could do him a service and hang him.

For your information (this programme was full of such titbits) men usually tried to kill themselves by cutting their throat, women preferred drinking bleach in those days.

This was grisly stuff for early Sunday night. "Plenty of sponges, this is going to be bloody," said the surgeon, plunging his hand into a patient's chest.

These were difficult times when one in seven children died by the age of five and average life expectancy was 45. In hospital, infection was the greatest killer for patients and staff alike. No wonder Cherie Lunghi's stern matron behaved like Kim and Aggie, running her finger across surfaces to check for dust.

Then, as now, the hospital service had financial worries. A Daily Mail reporter was shown round in the hope that her story would result in readers donating money. She was impressed by the new-fangled X-ray machine ("I've never seen the like, it's magic") although operator Mr Wilson was running out of radiation-damaged fingers to operate it.

Dr Walton and Nurse Russell's romance was less convincing. "I long for you, Ada," said the doc. Alas, relations between nurses and doctors were forbidden under standing orders (and lying down orders too probably).

Matron advised Ada to stick with the "sacred vocation" of nursing, adding that "time was a great healer" - and carried less risk of infection, she might have added.

Light relief came from David Troughton's surgeon Hurry (which may be his name or a misprint in the Radio Times) Fenwick who recalled an operation performed with no more anaesthetic than a bottle of Scotch. "The patient died of shock but he died happy," he laughed.

Originally, people had to survive their acts of bravery to be awarded the Victoria Cross. Eventually, Victoria Cross Heroes told us, it was awarded posthumously too.

The programme had an introduction from the Prince of Wales but wasn't a stuffy account of VC recipients but an intriguing look at those who received it, complete with economic, but effective, reconstructions. For instance, the battle of Rorke's Drift was recreated with a handful of actors and a few pennies.

The most fascinating story concerned two men who saw action in the Crimean War and both received the Victoria Cross. One rose to the highest rank of Field Marshal, the other was disgraced and had his VC taken away.

He disappeared, then many years later a journalist interviewed a tramp in London whose story bore an uncanny resemblance to the disgraced man's life. But his identity was never discovered and we were no nearer the truth.