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Casualty: Ready for anything

(Series 26, Ep.17) A cracker of a first episode in the new Cardiff-based location. Extra long and complete with car crashes, explosions, poison gas, Tess in peril, a handsome new doctor and some fabulous work by Dr Sam Nicholls. I didn’t even have time to miss Dr Ruth Winters and Lovely Staff Nurse Faldren.

We began with our favourite emergency medics literally unwrapping their shiny new department, the previous one having been ravaged by fire. The new version is slick, shiny  (or it was at the start), and more closely resembles the wards of Holby City. The staff were just there to unwrap stuff and make sure it was working, find out where the toilets were, get the CT scanner up and running, that sort of thing. But when there was a multi vehicle car crash nearby, Nick Jordan wasted no time in declaring Holby A&E open for business. “Ready for anything,” he declared. Would he still have made that call if he’d known about the ensuing explosion and chemical leak on a nearby housing estate? Probably not, and he did go a little bit wobbly in the new Peace Garden. “Why do we need a Peace Garden?” he asked Charlie, who was sitting out there contemplating the peace and quiet. Charlie speculated it was probably so people had somewhere to go to contemplate the peace and quiet. Or to smoke. And, if the Linden Cullen Memorial Garden is anything to go by, it’ll also turn out to be a good spot for staff members to be attacked and/or poisoned. Anyway, Charlie gave Nick the small pep talk he needed – Charlie really is your go-to guy for a pep talk – and Nick headed back indoors ready to sort out the carnage.  Continue reading

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Casualty: We’re not going to die here tonight

(Series 26, Ep.16) If you haven’t seen this episode yet, stop reading now before I spoil it for you as thoroughly as my dear old dad spoiled it for me by telling me the end two days before I managed to see the episode. Them’s the perils of Sky+.

Well then. Gosh. A two-part episode of Casualty, featuring a fire, explosions, a child locked in a locker, Dr Zoe Hanna and Dr Dylan trapped in Resus with only a bottle of gin to keep them going and Lovely Staff Nurse Faldren and pregnant Dr Ruth Winters forced to escape the conflagration via the air conditioning ducts.

And no-one died. Can you imagine? All of that tension and all of those special effects and Casualty, the most corpse-littered show on TV, comes up with a happy ending. I did not see it coming (ok, I did – thanks, dad). Ruth had dumped Jay the previous week. When things are going right for Ruth she expects them to go wrong, so she tries to blow up the situation herself before it blows up anyway. Lovely Staff Nurse Faldren has proved over the years that he’s not so easy to get rid of, and he wasn’t taking no for an answer. While he was telling Ruth that he wasn’t taking no for an answer, the rest of the hospital was on fire, but the fire alarms had been disabled and R and J had their phones switched off, so they didn’t know.

They soon found out, obviously, promptly rescued the girl trapped in the locker and the three of them discovered all exits were blocked and the only way was up – via the air con to the roof.  Frankly, it all looked hopelessly doomed. “We’re not going to die here tonight,” Jay told Ruth, with the conviction of A Man In Love. Continue reading

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Casualty: Think of me as your complacency monitor

(Series 26, Ep.6) Now we have an explanation for all those times (like last week) when Charlie hasn’t been around. He hasn’t been indulging in a new passion for golf or train spotting or looking after adorable granddaughter Megan. He’s been running a drugs clinic with Nurse Linda. He’s passionate about it, as well. Even though we didn’t know previously that it even existed, this week we had to believe it was a vital service to the community. And we did believe it, because Charlie believes it and he’s the Sincerest Man on Television.

It’s hard to justify the expense in a cash-strapped NHS hospital, though. In case we weren’t aware of the issues, Jay and Scarlett had a concisely-scripted debate about the pros and cons of providing drugs to addicts in a clinical setting. One of the cons has got to be when a psycho holds a syringe to your throat and says he’s going to turn you into a “very unhappy bunny” if you don’t give him all the drugs. This happened to Charlie, so Linda gave the psycho all the drugs. Then poor old guest star Tina O’Brien, finding she couldn’t get drugs from Charlie’s officially approved source, went to a man who had them. The psycho. Continue reading

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Casualty: And now relax, with a quiet game of Charlie bingo

(Series 26, Ep.2) Anyone looking forward to seeing how last week’s new paramedics, Omar and Tamzin, were getting on will have been disappointed. There was no sign of them, and instead we got to meet two new nurses.

Like Omar and Tamzin, Lloyd and Scarlett are both pretty, because Casualty only employs pretty staff these days (Big Mac is lucky he got his job when he did). Scarlett is, in fact, so pretty that people ask her out on dates and tell her she’s fit every five minutes, which must be terribly draining. As a nurse, she’s one of these not terribly good with a cannula but marvellous at working out people’s inner feelings types. Lloyd, on the other hand, likes nothing better than to fling himself into resus and be on the front line when things are going beep, but he somewhat misjudges situations.

It’s nothing Charlie hasn’t seen before, of course. He’s done more staff inductions than you can shake a stick at. So many that Lovely Staff Nurse Faldren can recite his various motivational speeches word for word. Ticking them off as they occur forms the classic pub game “Charlie Bingo,” which is the perfect spirit-enlivener following a hard day among the bedpans.

Scarlett, after a shaky start, rescued her reputation with Dr Ruth Winters by spotting that her patient, the daughter of Holby’s premier plastic surgeon, was simply in need of a bit of paternal affection. All very well, but I was left spluttering, “Who is this Professor Michael Fitch? Who is he?” Anyone who watches Holby City knows that the entire plastics department currently consists of Michael Spence and Plastic Bhatti. They’ve never even mentioned a Prof Fitch. Sometimes I wish Casualty and Holby would get their heads together a bit more, or else quit pretending that it’s all the same hospital.

Posted by PLA          (more Casualty reviews here)

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Casualty: Adam knows best

(Series 25, Ep.44) Last week, we were informed that Adam has a “god complex.” Frankly I’m not seeing it, myself. What I’m seeing is a doctor who’s trying to do the best for his patients and grappling with moral dilemmas. He doesn’t always choose the path through the moral dilemma that others would, but that’s the nature of moral dilemmas and it certainly doesn’t mean you’ve got a god complex.

Maverick Nurse Kirsty disagrees with me, because Adam is way more maverick than she is at the moment, and she’s not happy. This is the woman who used to enjoy testing rules to breaking point. Anyway, the moral maze in which Adam found himself this week concerned a man who was dying of mesothelioma, which he’d got by being in contact with asbestos from his father’s factory. He was about to testify in a law suit against the company, currently owned by his brother, Gary Kemp out of Spandau Ballet. Gary really needed the brother out of the way so he didn’t testify, and tried to persuade Adam that his patient didn’t want to be resuscitated. Adam saw through the handiness of this scheme, however, so Gary resorted to a spot of cyanide poisoning. This unlikely eventuality was spotted by Dr Dylan Keogh, and Gary ended up in the police station, and the brother lived just long enough to do his testimony via video link. Maverick Nurse Kirsty was cross that Adam chose to tell the brother that Gary had tried to kill him. “It wasn’t your call, Adam,” she told him. Technically, maybe not – but Adam’s actions seemed fairly sound to me.   Continue reading

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Casualty: I’m so proud of you, Mr Collier/Dr Winters/Nurse Andrews

(Series 25, Ep.41) The broad theme of this episode was acceptance of your own strengths and weaknesses. Paramedic Jeff, Lush Linda and Dr Ruth Winters all learned valuable life lessons over the course of fifty minutes.

Jeff first, and he was still fretting about Karl, the cousin of the College Shooter. Remember last week, when Karl’s new girlfriend came a cropper on a railway line, and Karl went off in an angsty strop? Jeff was convinced that Karl was off to Do Something Stupid. “It’s not your responsibility,” Dixie told her troubled colleague. He ignored this advice because he was getting his instructions from Polly. She may be dead, but her handy book of quotations was still around to lend a spot of guidance when needed, and it was currently falling open at a page that said: “When the call comes, the great man always answers or chooses to live with a lifetime of regret.” Deep, huh? Not wanting to live with a lifetime of regret, Jeff decided to track Karl down, and, as expected, he was roaming the corridors of Holby College with his hood up and a rucksack over his shoulder, looking for all the world like he was trying to find a good vantage point to do a spot of shooting.

Only he wasn’t. He was replacing mobile phones he nicked earlier, because he’s turned over a new leaf and he’s a good boy now, such is the power of Polly, even posthumously. Heck, he even diagnosed a girl who was having a TIA. We’ll make a paramedic of him yet! There were a couple of niggles to iron out, such as him trying to dangle the girl’s boyfriend over a balcony  in A&E, and the fact that he’d known that his cousin had a gun but hadn’t told anyone, but that was all easily sorted out. And Jeffrey was left with a good feeling. He’d helped Karl out, and no longer felt the need to be Polly’s emissary on Planet Earth. The book of quotations went into the bin. “I’m so proud of you, Mr Collier,” said Dixie.   Continue reading

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Casualty: The question is, are you a real nurse?

(Series 25, Ep.38, 39) I just watched Saturday’s episode, and it’s sapped my blogging energy. But I shall stagger on to that in a minute. First a brisk stroll through last week’s episode, the one where Mads came face-to-face with the cabby who tried to rape her (I say “tried,” because it’s not clear whether he succeeded – the suggestion seemed to be that she fought him off).

Previously, I’ve liked Mads. She’s been a really original character – shy, conventional, but with an independent streak and a subversive sense of humour. There was a lovely episode where a patient from Pakistan reminded Mads of her culture, and particularly told her not to be led astray by the likes of that strumpet Dr Zoe Hanna, but Mads went to the pub after work anyway, with that wide-eyed expression on her face that looks like she’s just arrived on a time-and-culture machine but she thinks she’ll fit into this new world just fine.

Sadly I didn’t feel sorry for her as much as irritated by her in this episode. It wasn’t Hasina Haque’s fault – she was given little else to do but employ her trademark wide-eyed expression, only this time denoting fear. There were too many scenes where the screen was just filled with that rabbit-in-the-headlights visage. And I was irritated that you apparently can’t have a female Muslim character without at some point involving her in  a “bringing shame on the family”-type plot.

Last week also reintroduced Christine Tremarco as Linda Andrews, who previously pitched up as Jess’s free-spirited best friend. This time she looks set to stay a bit longer, because she’s now employed in the ED as a nurse.

This week saw her acting a bit like she’s the new Dr Zoe Hanna – sleeping with unsuitable men, coming into work with a hangover and a bag full of the unsuitable man’s clothing. A shame, this, as she was supposed to be in charge of the whole department. No-one wanted to take over Tess’s job – they all hope Tess will change her mind and do it herself – so Nick Jordan appointed Linda. ″With you at the wheel, we can expect the hospital to be on its knees by lunchtime,” was his vote of confidence, but the plan was to force a more competent pair of hands to take over when Linda messed up.

She wasn’t helped by locum doctor Simon turning out to be her former fiance. You could see why she jilted him if his bedside manner was anything to go by.

Anyway, the plot, such as it was, revolved around an injured boy and his dad, who was supposed to have died in a train crash but who’d used the opportunity to do a Reggie Perrin and disappear. Only now he was back. Only Linda believed him. Also lurking was the very annoying Dr Dylan Keogh, who hasn’t worked in the ED since Polly died.

Wherever Dylan goes there’s an accident (it was a car crash this time). The citizens of Harrogate, where he was due for a job interview, will be no doubt relieved to know that, with a little encouragement from Dr Zoe Hanna, it looks like he’ll be staying in Holby.

A pretty “meh” episode, then. Too much Dylan and Linda, not enough Nick Jordan. No Henrik Hanssen at all, and just the merest glimpse of Ruth. But never mind – episodes are like trains at Holby Station, which looked very small and rural for the seething metropolis that is Holby. There’ll be another one along next week.

Posted by PLA          (more Casualty here)

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Casualty: Ruth’s back! Charlie’s back! Mads is in danger!

(Series 25, Ep.36) If and when Charlie Fairhead ever dies, it will be necessary to have him stuffed and mounted in a glass case in the reception area of Holby City A&E department. Yes, it might freak out the patients a little bit, but it’s unthinkable that the place could run without him.

Having been ousted to the sunny heights of the Psych Ward for the duration of Dr Ruth Winters’ psychiatric illness (handy, that), Nick Jordan decided that, now Ruth was back, Charlie really ought to be back as well. Thus everyone will get the benefit of his uncanny ability to be reassuring while not making eye contact with the person he’s talking to (his eyes always seem to be watching an imaginary cricket match in the distance), and he’ll also be on hand to restrain Ruth if she goes off on one again. It’s a win-win situation.

It was a hell of a shift for Ruth to make her reintroduction to medical life. Henry (what is his job title, please? He’s sort of in charge when Hanssen is unavailable) had signed up to some scheme whereby Holby would alternate GP referrals with mythical “other Holby hospital” St James’s, but this had gone wrong so the ED was full of people who should really be at the other side of Holby. Mayhem. Throw in a deaf boy who’d swallowed a particularly vicious weedkiller, Henry’s daughter who’d been run over by a motorbike because she’s going blind and she hadn’t seen it coming, Adam being angsty (is this “again” or “still”?) and Mads asking if she could avoid contact with youngish male patients because her fiance was a bit traditional that way (Tess’s answer: “No.”), and you have a recipe for stress.    Continue reading

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Casualty: It’s not what you’ve got, it’s who you are

(Series 25, Ep.32) So who’s the best clinical lead? Is it Nick Jordan, all designer suits, snappy put-downs and brusque, no-nonsense bedside manner? Or the warm, motherly Miriam Turner, who’ll go with you for your medical appointments and put £50 behind the bar on a night out?

I like both of them, but which one should get the job, if there’s only one job? There’s only one way to find out – vote. Yup, Henry and Hanssen decreed that what was needed was a staff popularity contest, with the winner being decided by secret ballot. The ways of the NHS (Holby-style) are many and mysterious indeed.

You could never accuse Nick Jordan of pandering to public opinion or going out of his way to make himself popular – quite the reverse. “In order to win a popularity contest you have to be popular,” Dr Zoe Hanna advised him, but even with hs job apparently on the line, he wasn’t going to compromise by actually being nice. So when a girl was brought into the ED with apparently all the symptoms of being very, very drunk, Nick wasn’t listening to her sister protesting that the girl hadn’t been drinking at all, and must have been drugged. His staff were cross with him. I was cross with him – we’d seen the girl’s orange juice being spiked earlier, so what was Nick playing at? It turned out that the girl’s sister was well-known to Nick for having such a severe alcohol problem that she was, in fact, dying of liver cirrhosis. And just at the point where you’ve thrown your hands in the air in despair at Nick’s lack of bedside manner, and Lenny has cast his vote in favour of Miriam, Nick manages to persuade the father of the two girls, who hasn’t spoken to his elder daughter for years, to donate part of his liver to her. A job well done in the interests of his patient, Nick Jordan-style.

And it turns out that, while a cuddly personality will take you a long way, the ED staff actually prefer the more curmudgeonly approach of Nick. He may be a tad cussed, but he also happens to be a genius, and when you’re up to your knees in blood, guts and trauma, that’s what you want.

Meanwhile, Jay was dealing with a patient with breasts. Continue reading

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Casualty: Is it paranoia or is it just true?

(Series 25, Ep.30) I’d love to be able to report how Lovely Staff Nurse Faldren is feeling following his surgery, but I’m afraid I can’t. You know what hospitals are like – they won’t speak to you unless you’re a relative, and I’m just a very, very concerned friend.

It can be hard separating fact from fiction, and this was very much the theme of this week’s Faldren-free episode. It started with a glimpse of a hand, a knife, blood dripping on the floor. Then we were whizzed back in time to ten hours before this happened, and introduced to a number of people the blood could have belonged to.

Most likely candidate had to be Dr Ruth Winters. She’s still in a psych ward (which looks nicer than a lot of hotels I’ve stayed in) and is so bored she’s started watching Ainsley Harriott on daytime TV. Charlie sits her down for a little chat, and suggests that, quite possibly, she’s bipolar. “If that’s how you want to play it I don’t want your help or your labels,” she tells him. So Charlie enlists the help of Ruth’s former colleague, the Frosty Brain Surgeon Woman, who, it turns out, has OCD. A shame, really , because otherwise Charlie might have had to summon my very favourite surgeon-with-OCD, Joseph from Holby. Anyway, Frosty Brain Surgeon Woman assures Ruth that it’s quite possible to be a top surgeon and be on medication.

Of course this isn’t enough to convince Ruth, because she might be paranoid but she knows when Charlie is setting her up. What does help to put her on the road to recovery is a bit of the old Dr Ruth Winters Diagnostic Genius – a fellow patient who has been exhibiting all the signs of paranoia and also fainting a lot collapses in the toilets. Ruth diagnoses Lyme Disease, and Charlie can only marvel at her plucky medical skills. Continue reading

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