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Russell Baker [imagemap with 6 links]

Russell Baker on Innocents

Former New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Russell Baker has been the host of Masterpiece Theatre since 1993. Mr. Baker introduces each program episode and his personally researched and written comments add context and background to our understanding of the film we're about to watch. His comments frequently provide a uniquely American perspective on the mores and lifestyles of the British.

More commentaries by Russell Baker, as well as commentaries by his predecessor in the hosting chair, Alistair Cooke, can be found for select programs in The Archive.

It's not surprising that readers and viewers have always been fascinated by stories about doctors. Their business is life -- pain, fear -- sometimes death. And what can be more compelling than the moral and ethical problems such work presents?

Our story tonight is about a group of doctors grappling with an especially chilling problem: a hospital surgical unit with a very high death rate -- unacceptably high, one doctor thinks. Reputations and self-respect are at stake for the doctors -- and for their patients, life itself.

There is special poignance in the fact that the patients are almost all babies or very young children.

This story is a dramatization of events that took place in a hospital in Bristol, England, between 1984 and 1995. The script is based on testimony taken during a long public inquiry which took evidence from some 250 parents and looked at the records of 1,800 children.

In the end, the inquiry said this is not an account of bad people; it is an account of people who cared greatly about human suffering and were dedicated and well motivated. And yet things did go wrong.

Now, in one episode, Innocents.

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