Jed Mercurio, one of Britain’s leading television writers and the creator of Line of Duty, will speak in London on Friday at the inaugural Sarah Hughes Lecture. But this time Mercurio is more likely to be asked about the challenges of representing the world of healthcare and hospitals on television than dramatising investigations into police corruption.
Because Mercurio, a former medical practitioner, is also the creator of the witty and dark BBC hospital dramas Cardiac Arrest, about young medics, and, more recently, Bodies.
For one night only the identity of the fabled “H” – the mystery at the heart of the BBC’s Line of Duty show – will be clear. It will stand for “Hughes”, the surname of the late journalist and arts critic in whose memory the event is being staged by the Royal Society of Medicine.
Hughes, a mother and wife who died from breast cancer on Easter Monday 2021 at the age of 48, wrote regularly for the Observer and the Guardian, including writing movingly about her diagnosis and illness, and was an admirer of Mercurio’s work. And the admiration ran both ways. When Hughes died, he was among many in the entertainment industry to mourn the passing of an informed and gifted cheerleader and analyst.
Screenwriter Sarah Phelps, the woman behind recent high-profile Agatha Christie adaptations, has also paid tribute to Hughes, saying that interviews conducted by the journalist were among the most enjoyable she has given.
This time Victoria Macdonald, the health and social care editor of Channel 4 News, will be asking the questions. The live event, which begins at 7pm, will also be streamed and tickets for the virtual lecture are available until 2 December.
Hughes was a history graduate of St Andrews University and was always intrigued by all facets of the human condition, in real life and in fiction.