(Series 19, ep. 64 ‘Always Forever’ by Simon Norman 19.12.17) What a beautiful Christmas treat of an episode. It provided the most gorgeous send-off for one of my favourite characters, and for an episode that dealt so much with grief and loss it was ultimately the most positive, life-affirming thing.
Who knew that Holby cupboards could produce magic to rival the wardrobe that gets you to Narnia? When Morven went into one, partly to sort out some vomit-covered scrubs and partly to hide from Cameron (back to help out at Holby temporarily and as usual giving Morven all kinds of mixed feelings), she accidentally inhaled a lungful of nitrous oxide from a bottle with a leaky valve.
This resulted in her getting gorgeously giggly – and hallucinating that Arthur Digby was there with her.
It was an absolute treat to have Rob Ostlere on the wards of Holby again, even though he was playing a ghost or a vision this time. He wasn’t a wispy, semi-transparent vision – this ghost was pleasingly real and touchingly exactly the same Arthur we remember, only this time only we and Morven could see him. When she recovered from the effects of the gas, Arthur’s ghost was still with her, hilariously on hand to comment on things going on. He said Cameron was “handsome, in an obvious kind of way.” He prompted Morven to go and talk to Jac about Jasmine. And, knowing that Morven was thinking about leaving Holby to join Cameron who is going to be working in Jamaica in the new year, he gently encouraged her.
As she sat outside on the step she was joined by Hanssen, who told her that nobody would judge her for spreading her wings. After he’d gone, she knew Digby was behind her: “I know you’re here.” “I’m always here,” he replied. Later on they sat on the fire escape and she told him, heartbreakingly, that he was supposed to be her happily ever after. “If it’s any consolation, my happy ever after will always be with you,” he said, and I’m underplaying it slightly when I say there was a lump in my throat. These scenes of the two of them together giving Morven permission to move on and go with Cameron were absolutely lovely. Digby told Morven that it was “Time to be Dr Shreve again.”
Everyone went to Albie’s to wish Morven farewell, but Cameron didn’t appear. She found him still at the hospital, and they kissed under some strategically-placed mistletoe and went off hand-in-hand to the festive strains of ‘2,000 Miles’ by The Pretenders. It was adorable.
In absolute contrast with that gorgeousness, at that very moment Ric Griffin was being arrested after punching Jeremy Warren, who’d taunted him that more of the hospital staff should have been shot by Fredrik. This was very much playing into Warren’s hands – if he can’t get Ric for killing his mother, he can get him for assaulting him. Ric reassured a distraught Donna that everything will be alright, but it means we go into a new year and a new series (this was the last episode of series 19) with the fate of Holby’s beloved long-serving doctor to worry about.
Essie was also coming to terms with the loss of Raf, which she’s doing with the help and support of Sacha, Lofty and Dominic. And, touchingly, Serena’s nephew Jason. Standing next to the mound of flowers and candles that have been left in tribute to Raf, he talked about how he doesn’t have a neurotypical response to grief – but his frank way of talking about death and his own pain seems to be helpful to people who are struggling with their own reactions. And he’d found her wedding ring. Later on, Essie told Hanssen that she wanted to organise a memorial for the victims of the shooting, and she wanted him to be involved, because he hasn’t even begun to address his own feelings about Fredrik. And from now on, Nurse Harrison is to be known as Nurse Di Lucca.
Up on Darwin, Jac was still being the patient from hell as far as taking lots of bed rest and doing as she’s told is concerned. She behaved better when Fletch let her help out on an overstressed ward (the Mythical St James’s was over capacity and was sending its spare patients to Holby). She did a bit of admin, diagnosed a patient and then talked Fletch through performing a life-saving procedure on one of Santa’s more inebriated elves (well, it is Christmas).
There’s definitely a frisson between Jac and Fletch. She smiles when she looks at him, and there was a scene in the physiotherapy room where the director spent a lot of time showing us their hands almost touching, their feet almost touching. It’ll be interesting to see how that relationship develops once she’s back on her feet and in full control of her empire again.
One good thing is that she’s agreed for Goth Dr Frieda to come back again, so hurrah for that.
So the longest series in Holby City history – 64 weeks – draws to a close and the last face we saw was Arthur Digby, a character who died in series 18. I never expected that, but whoever came up with the idea is a genius.
There’s a lot to look forward to next year, as everyone heals from the events of the past few weeks – including the return of the glorious Serena (who was mentioned several times in this episode – still having a lovely time with Bernie). And don’t forget the book, Holby City: Behind the Screen, coming out soon, which has a huge amount of background information about the show and all the work that’s gone into this series. It’s all very exciting!