RPA (TV series)

RPA was an Australian television documentary show that was filmed at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and showed the everyday workings of this major hospital in Sydney, Australia. Premiering in 1995, the programme is based on the British series Jimmy's which was filmed at St James's University Hospital in Leeds.[1]

Created bySheryl Taylor
Narrated byMax Cullen
Country of originAustralia
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons18
Executive producerSheryl Taylor (1995-1997)
Production locationSydney
Running time60 minutes
Original networkNine Network
Picture format576i (SDTV)
Audio formatStereo
Original release1 February 1995 (1995-02-01) –
18 July 2012 (2012-07-18)


For the majority of its thirteen-year run, each episode of RPA would run for half an hour. However, its initial 2007 run was broadcast in combined hour-long episodes, and its return later in the year saw it assume a permanent one-hour timeslot.[2] Operations would be recorded on camera in a graphic nature and the doctors would provide commentary as they operate on patients.

A new RPA: Where Are They Now series, begun in 2007, ran for half an hour. It profiled the lives of patients who have previously appeared on RPA, recapping the original stories and showing follow-ups on the patients' lives or deaths following their initial appearance on the programme. Both series have been narrated by Max Cullen.

A brand-new series of the medical/observational series aired on the Nine Network in October 2008. Max Cullen continued to narrate.[3] The program returned in February 2009 for another brand new series.

In 2012, the series returned to Nine on Wednesday, 30 May, at 9.30pm, with Australian actor and artist, Max Cullen again narrating.[4] This series was also the last of this franchise and its final episode was broadcast on 18 July.


RPA has been nominated for an award at the annual TV Week Logie Awards in every year since 2000 (eight times in succession); from 2000–2006, it was nominated in the Most Popular Reality Program category, while in 2007 it was nominated in the Most Outstanding Factual Series category. It won silver Logies at the 2000 and 2003 Logie Awards.[5][6]


In 2019, TV Week listed RPA at No. 100 in its list of the 101 greatest Australian television shows of all time, which appeared in its monthly TV Week Close Up publication.[7] The magazine said it recognised the program's sensitivity when showing emotional scenes, but it also celebrated victories of patients and medical teams.[7]

Other storiesEdit

A feature of RPA is its storyline nature, in that it has a strong emphasis on following the stories of patients throughout the series. Examples include Kenyan burns victim Safari, who appeared in every episode of the 2001 series and in an episode of RPA: Where Are They Now.[citation needed]

Chris O'Brien, a head and neck surgeon, appeared since the start of the show but retired after he was diagnosed with a brain tumour in November, 2006. He recovered from his operation and his story was told on 60 Minutes.[8] A statement from Lifehouse at RPA on Thursday 4 June 2009 said the surgeon was nearing the end of his two-and-a-half-year battle with the disease, and he was admitted to hospital on Wednesday 3 June. "Professor Chris O'Brien was last night admitted to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital after suffering a significant deterioration in his condition," Lifehouse said.[9] He died on 4 June 2009, with the following episode of RPA dedicated to Professor O'Brien's work at the hospital and on the show throughout the years.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Idato, Michael (30 April 2007). "Those were the days". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 10 January 2008.
  2. ^ Nine stretches out a good thing Archived 3 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "RPA on the way". TV Tonight. 13 September 2008. Retrieved 13 September 2008.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ TV Week Logie Awards 2000 Archived 28 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ TV Week Logie Awards 2003 Archived 31 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ a b Burfitt, John; Cullen, Tamara; Hadley, Amy; Hockey, Maddison; Mitchell, Thomas; Recchi, Karina; Vnuk, Helen; Wang, Cynthia; Zubeidi, Zara (July 2019), 101 Greatest Aussie TV Shows of All Time, TV Week Close Up, Bauer Media Group. Accessed 6 August 2019
  8. ^ Never say die, Chris O' Briens Story Archived 8 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Prof Chris O'Brien in hospital after condition deteriorates