(Series 30, ep. 34) I can’t even start to describe how much I’m going to miss Dr Zoe Hanna. She’s been my favourite Casualty character for as long as I remember, and not usually because of her medical skills (though she was brilliant at her job).
It’s Zoe’s sometimes questionable life choices that we’ll remember her for – staying up all night partying and getting involved with unsuitable men, waking up with a hangover and sucking the life out of a ciggie in the hospital car park while she suffered flashbacks of what might have happened the night before. It was her default setting and one she reverted to whenever life threatened to get too settled and sensible.
There have been two great loves in Zoe’s life – Nick Jordan and Max Walker. Both entirely different men – one at the top of his profession, another marking time in a low-paid job, but both of them able to see past Zoe’s sometimes self-destructive behaviour and with enough confidence in themselves to be a match for her.
I really thought she would leave with Max for a storybook happy-ever-after, but in the end she felt she would only hurt him again because she can’t change who she is. You have to admire her for that, but it’s a strong-willed woman who wouldn’t at least try to change for the sake of the lovely Max.
In October 2014 Zoe was brought back to the ED (after a spell on Strictly Come Dancing) to bring compassion and warmth back to the leadership of a staff team who were devastated and demoralised by the death of Jeff. That’s what Zoe was like – warm, relatable and human. She could even get under the skin of the world’s grumpiest man, Dr Dylan Keogh. The scene where she said goodbye to him in this episode was as emotional as when she said goodbye to Max.
So, out with the old (not that I’m calling Sunetra Sarker old, because she so isn’t) and in with the new – new doctor Elle Gardner. She’s played by Jaye Griffiths, who I find very watchable whatever she’s in. I’m looking forward to seeing how her character develops (we’ve already glimpsed that she has a bit of history with Hanssen). She’ll have a tricky job filling Zoe’s shoes – not least because nobody rocked a pencil skirt and a nude heel quite like Dr Zoe Hanna.