Holby City: Selfless. Kind. Brave

(Series 20, ep. 11 ‘The L Word’ by Katie Douglas 13.3.18) Holby is nominated for a RTS Award for Best Soap/Continuing Drama this year (and high time too). When you see an episode like this, you have to think how could it not win? Indeed you have to think how come it isn’t in the Drama category too? With acting as nuanced and powerful as we had here from James Anderson, Guy Henry, Hermione Gulliford and others, and production values that equal anything you’d see in things like Line of Duty and Collateral… well, I could go on. I probably will go on, whether it wins or not. But for now, I’d better turn my attention back to this particular, very dramatic and rather intense episode.

Professor Gaskell (or “the Great and Powerful Oz,” as Sacha rather brilliantly referred to him) was thinking that Roxanna was getting a bit emotionally over-involved with Oliver Valentine’s case. He’s shrewdly spotted that unless she’s been in a car with Hanssen or eating pizza in the on-call room, she has at all times been by Ollie’s side, frowning at him encouragingly.  Continue reading


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Holby City: Never too many broken hearts

(Series 20, ep. 10 ‘Square One’ by Kathrine Smith 6.3.18) There seems to be something of a power-grab going on at Holby. Prof Gaskell, aided and abetted by old chum Roxanna, is about to be installed on the board as Director of Medicine. Have we had one of those before?

Hanssen has given his approval via one of those in-car consultations that he’s specialising in these days. I picture him spending his days sadly patrolling the car park at 15 MPH in case he’s needed, but terrified to get out of the car.

Roxanna’s motives in getting Gaskell a place on the Iron Throne of Holby are altruistic (she thinks it’ll help Ollie to get the treatment he needs, and she believes in the Prof and his work), and I could probably say that about the Prof, though I’m not at all sure I entirely trust him. His guinea pig patient, Fiona, died this week, and in the comfort of his lab the Prof realised that his trial had failed. He’s keeping this news between him and his voice recorder though, and hasn’t told major funder and cheerleader Essie, or Serena, or Roxanna. I’m sure he really believes it’ll work eventually and he mustn’t stop now, but the last person we saw with that kind of attitude to a trial was Fredrik, and look how that turned out.  Continue reading


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Holby City: Everybody hurts

(Series 20, ep. 9 ‘Ache’ by Martin Jameson 28.2.18) Jac is struggling on despite being in horrendous pain (and Rosie Marcel is making sure we can feel that pain in every agonised breath Jac takes). I suppose she’s worried that if she gave up and went home they would have to get a locum heart surgeon in, what with Jac and Frieda being the only functioning heart surgeons left in the whole hospital. Or worse still, give half of Darwin away to some other unrelated department like they’ve tried before with plastics and neuro. Either way, Jac is not putting up with it and would rather try to carry on with her duties in between spells of lying on the floor with her teeth clenched. I have two solutions for her: (a) Pilates and (b) Mo. I would love to see Mo pop back to hold the fort until Jac is better, and I think Mo is about the only person Jac would trust. Apart from Joseph Byrne, but that ship has long sailed. And Elliot Hope, ditto.

Frieda’s solutions were (a) nagging and (b) very powerful drugs. When Jac was eventually persuaded to take the drugs (which Frieda had written a prescription for), did she thank Frieda for easing her pain and looking out for her? No. She thought Frieda was getting just a bit too uppity and needed taking down a peg by relegating her to the being the one who holds the suction thing in theatre (an important job, but not quite the role Frieda was expecting). Oh, Jac.  Continue reading


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Holby City: He’s alright really

(Series 20, ep. 8 ‘Hard Day’s Night’ by Michelle Lipton 20.2.18) I’m undecided about new registrar Xavier* Duval (Marcus Griffiths), but I think at the moment we’re meant to be. He has his twonkish side (“Delivering a baby is like watching your favourite pub burn down,” whatever that means apart from he can’t be bothered), but then after said baby is delivered (by Meena, Nicky and Donna) he gives Donna his credit card to go out and buy a load of stuff for it because the baby was totally unexpected and the mum (Jamie-Rose Monk, who was excellent) has nothing ready. So I would say he’s a man of gestures. Some are nice gestures and some aren’t, but we’ll have to wait and see what kind of person he is behind the gestures before we can say whether Zav could ever replace Raf.  Continue reading


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Holby City: I promise I will fix you

(Series 20, ep. 7 ‘Precipice’ by Tony Higgins 13.2.18) Poor Ollie. It looked like he was on the mend last week, but this week the bullet that’s still in his brain started leaking poison. It would have to come out, said Roxanna. This threw Ollie into a proper rage (how brilliant is James Anderson being at the moment?), and he said it should have been Roxanna who got shot, not him. Bless him, he’s not himself at all, is he? That’s not normal Ollie behaviour. He accused Roxanna of using him as a way of avoiding her grief over her dead husband (whose ashes were in her desk drawer), and he was right about that – she’s been living at the hospital because she can’t face going home. I bet she’s pleased she opted for that low-maintenance hairstyle now, hospital facilities being what they are.

But back to Ollie and his life-or-death surgery, which he only agreed to after Prof Gaskell had a quiet word (and I mean quiet – he’s got one of those voices that’s more of a vibration than a sound, and I have to say I find it rather thrilling as long as he isn’t overdoing it with the poetry). Predictably, things went a bit beep in theatre, but Ollie came through it, only to wake up from the anaesthetic temporarily unable to see, hardly able to move, and convinced he was still engaged to Zosia. Nooo!!!  Continue reading

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Holby City: The prodigal sapphist returns

(Series 20, ep. 6 ‘Not Your Home Now’ by Patrick Homes 7.2.18) She’s back! And she has several new blouses!

With Hanssen in emotional and psychological meltdown following his son’s recent gun rampage, he had to find a safe pair of hands to look after the hospital. Who better than Serena Campbell, now fully recovered from her own traumas and ready to – temporarily – take the Holby helm.

She kept emphasising, to anyone who assumed otherwise, that she was only there for about a month at most. Her heart, and her future, was with Bernie, who as we speak is setting up a trauma unit in Nairobi. Hands up who would like to see that as a spin-off series? Bernie got loads of mentions, because everyone wanted to know how she is, and we were left in no doubt at all that Serena would be Nairobi-bound at the earliest opportunity.  Continue reading


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Holby City: Promised you a miracle

(Series 20, ep. 5 ‘One Day at a Time’ by Isla Gray 30.1.18) Prof Gaskell is a strange one, isn’t he? He spent a good chunk of this episode reciting poetry, either to himself or to patients, in a somewhat doomy voice. I can’t help thinking it’s not really what you want when you’re just coming round from anaesthetic.

The patient he was reciting William Blake to at the end was a mystery person in Lisbon. Was this a flashback, or had he nipped to Lisbon quickly at the end of the shift? And is this mystery person (relative? partner?) the reason why he’s so driven to succeed with his stem cell treatment?

So many questions. I expect we’ll get answers, and probably more questions, in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, this was the week of his pioneering operation, which was so pioneering it was on live video link to the entire hospital and, indeed, the world. Plenty of pressure there for Prof Gaskell (who deals with pressure via the aforementioned poetry), Meena (who trembles, drops things and hides in out-of-order toilet cubicles) and the patient, Fiona (Shannon Murray). The surgery was apparently a success, despite a very hairy moment when I was sure Meena was going to drop the graft on the floor. I wonder if the 30 second rule applies in operating theatres?  Continue reading


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