The series was made by the production company ATV and set in a fictional hospital called Oxbridge General. Growing out of what was originally intended to be no more than a six-week serial (entitled "Calling Nurse Roberts"), the series went on to become ITV's first twice-a-week evening soap opera. Although somewhat cosily genteel by modern standards, Emergency Ward 10 was the first hospital-based television drama to establish a successful format combining medical matters with storylines centering around the personal lives of the doctors and nurses. To this end, the series was also British TV's first soap set in the workplace.
Emergency Ward 10 attracted controversy for its portrayal of an interracial relationship between surgeon Louise Mahler (played by Joan Hooley) and Doctor Giles Farmer (played by John White), showing the first kiss on television between black and white actors in July 1964, some four years before Star Trek's more famous Kirk/Uhura kiss in the episode Plato's Stepchildren.
Emergency Ward 10 was finally axed in 1967 when ratings began to slide after the show had been on air for ten years. ATV executive Lew Grade later admitted that cancelling the series was one of the biggest mistakes he ever made in his career.
The formula was subsequently revived with the afternoon series General Hospital (no connection with the American daytime soap General Hospital which began in 1963 and is still running) which was broadcast between 1972 and 1979.
Australia's Bud Tingwell starred in the series as surgeon Alan 'Digger' Dawson, enjoying a heart-throb status because of his role.
In March 2008, Network released a DVD set containing the 24 earliest surviving episodes which date from 1959 and 1960.