The Finnish medical drama series Pulse follows hospital employees’ lives in and outside the hospital. Clothes provided by Medanta play an important role in making the series true to life.
Events in the award-winning medical drama series Pulse (“Syke” in Finnish) take place in the trauma department of a hospital in an imaginary city. Costumes play a significant role in making the series true to life.
The series has been on air since 2014, and costume designers Ninna Päiväläinen and Ninni Lahtinen created a colour scheme for the work clothes used in the series in the planning phase. That was also when they contacted Medanta.
Their selected colours were grey, white and dark blue.
“We have kept this colour scheme, even though the designs have been updated,” says costumier Netta Kervinen, who joined the team in the third season.
Recently, the colour scheme has been expanded slightly.
“For example, the oncology nurses wear Medanta’s pink shirts, and the ward domestics have patterned tunics,” Kervinen explains.
Work clothes make it easier to get into a role
Even though Pulse has been on air for years, new designs are still needed, as new characters and environments continue to be introduced. The designer and costumier keep updating the characters’ wardrobes in line with various situations, different seasons and each character’s style.
One of the new characters introduced in autumn 2018, at the beginning of the fifth season, was practical nurse Aino, played by Amelie Blauberg. Aino is a recent graduate who is still unsure about her professional skills.
Blauberg is a young actor with no hospital experience, but work clothes make it easier to get into the role.
“As soon as I put on real work clothes, I can feel myself becoming a healthcare professional. These clothes are perfect for actors as well: very comfortable to wear! And they are flexible and breathable, even though they clearly are professional clothes.”
According to Blauberg, actors usually want to change back to their own clothes as soon as possible, even during short breaks. Medanta’s work clothes are an exception to this rule.
“I think this might be the first costume that I actually want to wear during breaks,” says Blauberg.
Careful preparation is key
Kervinen and Blauberg emphasise how important it is to thoroughly study hospital work and the instruments used, among other aspects, before filming starts.
“Healthcare professionals have provided us with extensive training on hospital environments and work clothes. For example, the doctors in the series wear coats with shortened or rolled-up sleeves, just like in real hospitals, where this is done for hygiene reasons,” Kervinen explains.
The costumier carefully studies clothes and accessories, such as scrubs, surgical masks and scrub caps, particularly those worn by many characters in the series. They must be used correctly in each situation.
Even small details are important.
“Whenever I see a doctor nowadays, I pay close attention to their and other healthcare professionals’ shoes, key fobs and pens, for example,” says Kervinen.
Even the key fobs in Pulse have been specifically designed for each role.
“Medanta’s clothes are well-fitting and easy to care for”
The costumes in the series are the result of cooperation between many people.
“The costume designer decides on the general guidelines, and I help them and take care of costumes at the daily level,” says costumier Netta Kervinen.
Head designer Ninna Päiväläinen has worked for the series since the very beginning. As Pulse is a major production, the costume team also includes set costumier Elisa Avikainen, and an intern also helps the team at times.
The costume department is hectic during filming. Each actor has a rack for their character’s professional and everyday clothes. The actors keep taking and bringing back clothes, and they also ask for advice, when necessary.
Netta Kervinen is a freelance costumier, but Pulse will now be her full-time job for six months or so. The fifth and sixth seasons will be filmed through until spring 2019, and Kervinen and her assistant are also responsible for having the clothes washed and ironed.
The clothes are in heavy use. Each actor has two shirts and two pairs of trousers, which are washed after each day of filming. If a scene involves fake blood, for example, it must be possible to change even during the day.
“Medanta’s clothes are stylish and uncomplicated professional clothes, but they are also well-fitting and easy to care for, which is important.”
Medanta was asked to join Pulse
When the creators of Pulse contacted Medanta a few years ago, the company was immediately interested, as well as being impressed with the high level of professionalism and attention of detail, such as the colour scheme of the work clothes for the characters.
According to Taina Steiner, Director of Design and Production, Medanta’s large selection of colours makes it easy to accommodate requests.
“We have noticed the effects of the popular series: when healthcare professionals saw how stylish grey work clothes looked on television, we started to receive orders.”
Today, the creators of Pulse discuss new products with Medanta whenever necessary. This cooperation has also affected product development at Medanta.
“The creators of the series asked whether doctors could wear the flat cap we had developed for chefs. I said they certainly could if it covers the hair. In the series, the flat cap was worn backwards,” Steiner says.
“The cap is made from the same antibacterial fabric as our other products, and we are now developing a slightly deeper model.”
The first four seasons of Pulse were broadcast by the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle). In 2018, the series transferred to Nelonen Media. The series features leading Finnish actors, such as Lena Meriläinen, Leena Pöysti, Iina Kuustonen, Tiina Lymi and Antti Luusuanniemi.
In 2016, Pulse won the Golden Venla Award for the best television programme. The series is produced by Yellow Film & TV, and the episodes are filmed at its studio in Helsinki. Seasons 5 and 6 are available on the Ruutu+ pay-television service.
The new episodes are shorter, with continuous storylines. For example, the fifth season consists of 40 episodes, around 20 minutes each, with around 10 storylines.