Excellent news from Holby HQ today – Henrik Hanssen will be returning to Holby City in the new year.
To celebrate, let’s look back at some key Hanssen moments.
1. The new CEO arrived in October 2010 and assembled everyone in the stairwell to tell them it was “time for change.” In my review of that episode I wrote, ‘He is a fabulous addition to the cast – an arrogant surgeon in the mould of Anton Meyer and Nick Jordan, he oozes around the hospital ever so elegantly dropping bombs of unease and discord wherever he goes.’
2. The Looming. He’s tall, is Hanssen. You’d think you would see him coming from quite some distance, but he has a way of surprising and disturbing people by looming up behind them when they least expect it, such as this fine example from May 2012: ‘Hanssen Loom of the Week came quite early on in the episode, when Jac was briefing the staff about the paperless workplace. “When was this decided? Does Hanssen know?” Elliott asked her. “I should think so,” said Jac. “Since he’s standing behind you.” People, when will you learn? Hanssen is always standing behind you.’
3. November 2010: There was a lot more to him than just disturbing the staff (and sacking people), though, and we were soon treated to the sight of him building a self-assembly book shelf (in a nod to his Swedish heritage).
4. December 2010: He was always an enigma. Very early on he revealed a sweet affinity for children, when he was very kind to Donna’s little girl Mia, and fixed a toy ambulance for one of Sahira’s children. The sweetest thing was when he found a toy snowman that had been abandoned in a bin. He took it home, carefully securing a seatbelt around it in the front seat of his car before he drove it away.
5. There was no information about his personal life or his background, and when an old colleague, Sahira Shah, started working at the hospital I wondered for a while whether she could actually be Mrs Hanssen, and whether the adorable children she spoke about might be the little Hanssenettes. After many twists and turns it was eventually revealed in a heartbreaking scene that Hanssen was deeply in love with Sahira, but it was unrequited (crazy woman) and she left Holby with her husband. Who wasn’t Hanssen.
6. He always had the welfare of the hospital at heart. Even though he came across as ruthless, he was only trying to look after the bigger picture and ensure the future stability and success of the hospital. In case we needed a demonstration of this, he kept an injured bird in his office and nursed it carefully back to life, snipping up little bits of bread for it, even shedding his own blood in the process, until it was well enough to fly free again.
7. That wasn’t the only time he shed his own blood for the good of the hospital. There was the time he was taken hostage in the back of a van in the hospital car park by the upset relative of a former patient, and got shot in the abdomen with a nail gun. He dealt calmly with the situation, talked to the press and then sutured his own wound in the privacy of his office. Balls of Swedish steel indeed.
8. In a stunning episode partly set in Stockholm, some of the pieces of the Hanssen jigsaw were finally pieced together as we saw his fractured relationships with his father and with the son he’d never met. A lot was explained about this formal, intensely private man – and it once again showcased Guy Henry’s incredibly subtle, powerful acting.
9. There was another glimpse of the sweeter side of him when he brought home made baklava (“I’m perfecting the recipe”) for Tara Lo as she faced life-or-death brain surgery. In a neat touch, when Elliot Hope also faced brain surgery, Hanssen sent him some baklava from Sweden – but this time he’d perfected the recipe, and this time the surgery was a success. Hanssen’s baking wasn’t entirely to thank for this, but it definitely helped.
10. Henrik Hanssen’s last episode came in the wake of the horrific car accident that ended Malick’s career and left Chantelle badly injured. Chantelle was never afraid to speak the truth to even the scariest people, and she recognised the gentler side of Hanssen. “You’ll be great if you stop being Henrik Hanssen and just be Grandad,” she told him, and that’s exactly what he did, flying off to Sweden to be reconciled with his son and his new baby grandson. It was a touching, tearful (and luckily for us, temporary) send-off for one of Holby’s finest characters and actors.
What’s happened to him in the meantime (apart from a couple of visits from Jac Naylor)? Has he been putting his self-assembly skills to good use and become a domestic god, or is he still a fan of the austere approach to interior design? Has grandparenthood brought out his snowman-rescuing, cuddly side, or can he still scare the life out of an F1 with a withering glance? Most importantly, are his looming skills still intact?