Publication: 11/5/74 – 12/10/1974 (23 episodes)
Reprint: 11/4/1981 – 12/8/1981
Alberto Cuyas Leo Davy [edited Jan 2015]
And here we go with another story that began in the first issue of Jinty.
Angela Rodd and her six budding student nurses: Sharon, Lesley, Jo, Susannah, Helen and Liz. The six would become known at Spilsbury General as Angela’s Angels. Ah, Jinty’s answer to the old nursing TV programme, Angels, you think? Actually, no – “Angela’s Angels” came out the year before Angels. Anticipatory, isn’t it?
It all starts when a cyclist is knocked down right in front of the hospital. The six girls who will become Angela’s Angels step in to help. A nurse from the hospital, Angela Rodd, comes out and takes charge of the emergency. Angela comes across as a bit severe, but together they get the cyclist to hospital. We get a taste of things to come when Sharon commandeers the ambulance because the ambulance men are distracted!
The six girls all discover that they are applying to be student nurses at Spilsbury General. Sharon hopes they don’t meet “that dragon of a sister” from the cyclist accident. Famous last words – that dragon is now in charge of them! Prompted by how they worked together over the accident, Angela chose them as the student nurses she is going to supervise throughout their training. Angela finds she may have gotten more than she bargained for, as the girls prove to be a handful. On their first day they mistake the house surgeon, Mr Shrubsole, to be unconscious when he is only asleep. The treatment they administer to the unfortunate Mr Shrubsole shows they have much to learn about nursing. First lesson: first do no harm to the patient, you over-eager juniors! Ironically, it is Mr Shrubsole who gives them their nickname: “Angela’s Angels”.
And so begins Jinty’s hospital soap opera, filled with drama, thrills, tears and laughs. And Spilsbury itself will never be the same after the arrival of Angela’s Angels. Nor will Angela herself. Although she comes across as the archetypal, strict, senior nurse whose severity does not make her popular, we know that she is fond of her charges, even if supervising them leaves her shattered afterwards. When Angela is strict about the rules or handling patients, she always shows her charges that there is a reason for it; for example, the reason for no jewellery on duty is for maintaining hygiene. The girls call Angela an acid-drop, but Angela shows that she has a heart underneath. When the Angels are accused of stealing, they assume the questioning Angela gives them is because she thinks they are guilty. But no – Angela had never believed they were guilty. She is the one who uncovers the true thief and sticks up for her charges. At another point Lesley is on the roof retrieving a book and surprised when Angela covers up for her.
Much of the humour and thrills come from the personalities of Angela’s Angels, particularly Sharon, the rebel of the group who hates being tied down with rules and red tape, and is a bit headstrong. She is also naturally high spirited, which leads her to waltzing with an anatomy skeleton and breaking it, tumbling down a laundry chute, and other scrapes that often get her into trouble with the hospital administration and even the law. Helen comes across as the least confident but more determined member of the group; she wants to be a nurse but struggles with the study for it. She studies so hard that she falls asleep while on duty in the ward. When it’s exam time, Helen not only has to study but run a risky but hilarious double bluff because she has been injured and has to get treatment without Angela finding out. Yes, imagine being both a nurse and a patient at the same time, and facing exams as well! It is a delight to see a black girl among the Angels in the form of Jo. Stories with coloured girls were a rarity. Unfortunately, there is a lapse into the African stereotype when Jo is revealed to be superstitious and a believer in magic. It is even more unfortunate for Jo when an enemy discovers her weakness; she has Jo believing she is cursed and enclosing herself in a protective circle of flowers and refusing to leave it.
And Angela’s Angels have their personal problems as well as personalities to provide us with drama. For example, Lesley is the poor rich girl – the daughter of a millionaire who neglects her. And she does not want anyone to know she is the daughter of a millionaire, fearing favouritism. Unfortunately, this is precisely what happens when her secret comes out.
Naturally, much of the drama comes from patients as well. There is the old lady who accuses the Angels of stealing, but is caught out by Angela. A neurotic patient tries to jump out the window, but Sharon saves her. But the most defined patient is Neil, whom the Angels rehabilitate when he is blinded from an accident. In the final episode, Neil gives a toast to the Angels. They comment that they have a long way to go yet in their training, but they have learned how rewarding the job can be. This shows us how much they have grown already, although they are not fully fledged nurses yet.
“Angela’s Angels” was repeated in 1981 as a result of Pam’s Poll, because readers indicated that they wanted a nursing story. Indeed, there had been a dearth of nursing stories in Jinty after “Angela’s Angels”; the only other Jinty serial with this theme was “Willa on Wheels”. “Angela’s Angels” was one of two Jinty serials to be repeated in the regular comic; the other was “Land of No Tears”. Both were repeated because of Pam’s Poll. Strangely, the nurse theme cropped up in the 1 October issue in 1977 with a competition based on the Angels programme. Readers had to find all the nurses’ watches in the issue to be in for winning an Angels doll.
One final note: some of Angela’s Angels appeared in a story of their own in the 1976 annual. Here, they have to administer treatment to a sick woman on an island. The trouble is, they are not experienced enough and the weather is too stormy for medics to come in. Ironically, this story was not called “Angela’s Angels” but “The Little Demon!”.