(Series 29, ep.23) Another powerful performance from a guest artiste this week (following Marcia Warren’s brilliant portrayal of a serial killer a few weeks ago). This time Michael Byrne played Alfred Maxwell, a former CT surgeon who was in the advanced stages of motor neurone disease. An accident with a hot beverage brought him to Holby A&E, and into the care of Connie Beauchamp, for whom he was something of a hero.
Following another incident in which he’d got his carer to give him oxygen turned up high (not a good idea for MND sufferers, apparently – which he may or may not have known), it became clear that he wanted to end his life. “My life, such as it is, is like being in a room with no doors and no windows, and the walls are moving in,” he told Connie.
Following the revelations about Connie’s father, her motivation for being on A&E is now more transparent, and she wasn’t about to give up on Alfred. Connie always relates best to people she respects intellectually, but she also felt an emotional connection to Alfred, which made their scenes really touching. I also like how in times of crisis she calls on Charlie, who pops up to utter a few words of wisdom and then vanishes again into whatever cupboard they keep him in.
The other patients of the week were a grandfather, father and son trio who were caught up in a cliff fall beneath their wee caravan. The accident itself – with the caravan perched precariously on the edge – gave poor Dixie flashbacks to the loss of Jeff, but she rallied herself sufficiently to engineer a reconciliation between the three.
Lighter moments were provided by Max, Zoe and Dylan. Max wanted Zoe to be open about their relationship, but she still wanted to keep it quiet. Surprisingly, Dylan was on Max’s side – but mainly so the two would spend more time in locations that weren’t his boat and Max wouldn’t annoy him by doing the crossword faster than Dylan can. Max told Zoe that if she didn’t tell everybody about their relationship before the end of the shift, he’d kiss her in public. Bless him, he didn’t get a chance. Just when he thought she was giving him the brush-off, she kissed him right in front of everybody in reception – Big Mac, Noel, Robyn, Connie, assorted woodland creatures and some guitar playing nuns. Only I made the last bit up. What prompted Zoe’s change of heart? It was another lovely romantic Max speech along the lines of him having always been in love with her, and everything in his life is more fun if he’s doing it with her. Awww, bless. Even Connie Beauchamp managed a little smile.
Best line of the night went to Dylan. After Dylan saved the sight of the caravan boy, Ethan said well done. “Yes, it was good, wasn’t it?” replied Dylan, modestly.