Holby City: When Henrik stopped being Mr Hanssen

hanssen holby(Series 15, ep.52)  Henrik Hanssen has been one of the greatest ever Holby characters. A mystery wrapped in an enigma encased by a formal suit, he was always intriguing and fascinating. The character was beautifully written, especially in the early days when odd little clues about his background were leaked out bit by bit, but it was Guy Henry’s stunning acting skills that really brought him to life. Having to work with the constraint that Hanssen was a character who didn’t really show emotion, his inner feelings had to be revealed by the most subtle acting, and by clever, telling details like the way he ate his sushi and arranged his pencils.

The exit episode for such a special character needed to be very good indeed, and last night’s episode was wonderful (beautiful writing by Nick Fisher). There had to be quite a lot of suspension of disbelief – that Digby was allowed to operate on the woman he loves even though he’d been a puking, shivering mess not long before; that no neurosurgeon was available at all (I’m sure in an emergency one could have been summoned from The Mythical St James’ or the Hadlington or somewhere if there really wasn’t one at Holby); that Ric Griffin took no part in the surgery to re-attach Malick’s hand even though he’s always been the go-to guy when veins needed sorting out; and so on. But, really, I wouldn’t have wanted to sacrifice any of the drama just to make things more realistic. Having Digby and Hanssen outside the operating theatre biting their nails while a Guest Artiste Surgeon did all the vital stuff wouldn’t have been the same as having them perform heroic deeds themselves.  

chantelle digby holbyThe most touching scenes were the ones between Hanssen and Chantelle, whose sweetness and vulnerability completely cracked his cool facade. He went from telling Serena that Malick “doesn’t need  warmth, Miss Campbell, he needs a cold clinical surgeon with nothing in his head but the job in hand – no pun intended” to promising Chantelle that he would save her and she would live to have babies of her own. As ever, Guy Henry conveyed that Hanssen was full to the brim with emotions just by the look in his eyes and a tremor in his voice.

Later, when Chantelle was recovering, they talked about how he was nasty to her last week. Chantelle suggested that he was actually quite nice when he stopped being Mr Hanssen. He said he was ashamed of the father he’d been and the grandfather he might fail to be – and he said it in that tear-swallowing way that he occasionally does that carries more strength of feeling than if he broke down and sobbed. “You’ll be great if you stop being Henrik Hanssen and just be Grandad,” she said, and he gave her such a lovely smile. “It’s high time I stopped being Mr Hanssen,” he said. “Please don’t ever stop being Nurse Lane.”

And then he packed up his office, passed on the Chair of Power to Serena Campbell, and caught a plane to Stockholm, where he finally met his son and his new grandson. And the sight of him holding this “most beautiful baby” would have melted any heart.

hanssen digby holbyI haven’t mentioned Digby much in this, but it was a huge episode for him too, as he admitted to Hanssen, Chantelle and himself that he was in love with Chantelle and had been since the first time he’d met her (he did quite an accurate impression of the way she speaks as well). Once again he proved he’s not really what you’d call a cool head in a crisis, but he’s a gentle, sweet soul.

Jac and Jonny had the unenviable task of providing a secondary plot. It was a sign of the huge drama going on elsewhere that even the glorious Jac failed to completely capture my attention, because I just wanted to know what was going on with Malick and Chantelle. Jonny’s old friend Bonnie Wallace turned up as an agency nurse, which riled Jac a bit. My favourite Jac line was, “Will you stop flapping like a baggy kilt?”

But it was Hanssen’s episode. The end of a series and the end of an era.

Posted by PLA            (more Holby reviews here)


Filed under Holby City

17 responses to “Holby City: When Henrik stopped being Mr Hanssen

  1. Martin Rosen

    As we know that Malick and Chantelle (aaaah!!) are leaving, I presume Malick’s hand will never work properly and he cannot be a surgeon. Chantelle will always have some brain injury (swimming like a mermaid?!), and will be unable to perform her duties.

    I will miss Chantelle (aaaah!!), as well as Mr Hassen. I have always thought it was strange that he never (maybe once) visited Casualty and the staff there never refer to him.

    If I am ever unfortunate enough to be in hospital, please can I have Nurse Lane to look after me!!

  2. Corumba Love

    Oh bum

    I may have to manifest, loom even, behind the sofa and watch this one.


  3. Eilis

    Oh, where to start. Hanssen has been my favourite character since he arrived and I’ve always known this day would come because Guy Henry was always going to move on. We never really got to know him, always seemed underused but that was probably bacause Guy Henry was busy doing other things and it was good that the mystique remained. We wouldn’t really have wanted him having one relationship after another (Ric and Michael) but I wish the whole Sahira thing hadn’t happened or at least could have been resolved more quickly.

    I enjoyed last night’s episode despite the usual nonsense re the medical aspects. I’ve not seen such surgical multiskilling since the days of A Country Practice. I watched an interview with the new producer who told us that the John Michie character will be a neurosurgeon because they haven’t had one before. They could have brought him in early and I think there was a neurosurgeon (might have been a neurologist) who featured in Casualty a few seasons ago regarding his daughter.

    The new producer also promised more “juicy” and “spicy” storylines, I’d really rather not but maybe that is just me.

    • Sue

      I was interested in that Oliver Kent interview when he mentioned that there’d be more nurses around. I was lucky enough to be invited to a Holby script conference early this year, when they were talking about series 16, and I mentioned then that there weren’t enough nurses around and hadn’t been since the days of Donna and Maria. Justin Young said that doctors were viewed as more glamorous and aspirational than nurses, but it looks like there’s been a bit of a rethink. Don’t know if I can take any credit/blame for that, because they were playing their cards very close to their chests and I didn’t come away with a scrap of spoiler information! Maybe only that I knew Jac was going to be pregnant, because someone asked me if I thought viewers would accept a pregnant Jac and when I said they definitely would, there was a visible sigh of relief around the table (as the storyline was presumably well under way in the writing and even filming stages by then).

      As for juicy/spicy storylines, I’m all for them!

      • Eilis

        Agreed that there haven’t been enough nurses recently. For me it was always the difference between Casualty/Holby and ER, for example. In ER the main nurse characters seemed to become doctors (Abbie) or think about it (Carol and Sam) and the focus was almost always on the doctors.

        Since they’ve made Niamh McGrady a regular, I hope they are going to develop Mary-Claire’s character a little more. After last night’s episode, I’m not sure.

  4. Dreamer

    I want Henrik back. 😦

    • Sue

      At least there’s a chance he might come back at some point – the door’s been left open for him. I know how you feel, though – I’m still not over the loss of Joseph Byrne.

  5. inkface

    To lighten the mood slightly (easier for me since I’ve been enjoying ‘Hanssen’ in Rome on Netflix) I loved Mary Claire’s method of calming down a hysterical Digby. “Look at my boobs”. Excellent nursing.

  6. Ann S

    I so much wanted to see him saying goodbye to Jac as they had been such good sparring partners and we really should have heard the Swedish lullaby just once more at the end. Thank you Mr Henry for your wonderful creation, the unforgettable Henryk Hanssen.

  7. HolbyNut

    I literally felt quite emotionally drained at the end of that episode and was hugely relieved when they all made it to the end alive!
    Hanssen and Malick – just brilliant!
    Chantelle – like an adorable labrador pup!
    Digby – a fledgling Joseph Byrne??? – I feel that there may be a bit of a ‘Jane from Neighbours’-style transformation at some stage.
    Just love, love, love Holby at the minute and quite sad at the end of another chapter of characters.

  8. rebecca0902

    I didn’t know Malick and Chantelle were leaving! Really wish people wouldn’t post spoilers.

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