(Series 20, ep. 1 ‘The Prisoner’ by Ed Sellek 2.1.18) This stand-alone episode dealt with four days in the life of Ric Griffin, in prison on remand following his assault on Jeremy Warren, and Oliver Valentine, returning to the world after being in a coma since being shot in the head.
Ric might have a posh voice and an air of refinement, but he has great intelligence, a boxer’s instincts and he’s seen a bit of the world. While prison obviously came as a huge culture shock for him, he navigated prison politics quite well. When he was befriended by a prisoner called Dillon (played by the brilliantly named Chord Melodic), it took him a little while to realise that Dillon had an agenda – he wanted Ric to use his medical contacts in the outside world to get drugs into the prison. As soon as he’d worked out what was what, Ric refused to have any part of the scheme – with the result that he’s now a marked man. Indeed he’s possibly literally marked by now, because when we last saw him he was surrounded by Dillon’s thugs in the prison yard.
As ever, Hugh Quarshie’s performance was masterful. He has such an air of civilised calm about him, a solidity and a moral centre. Seeing Ric in prison is a terrible thing, but I feel that if anyone can survive it, it’s him.
Back at Holby, Oliver Valentine was waking up from his coma, and I was very relieved to see that they’ve heeded my advice and the very first thing we saw was that the emergency barber was giving him a good shave.
James Anderson played all of his scenes beautifully. As Ollie slowly pieced together little bits of his memories (touchingly, he wanted to know where his sister Penny was), his speech hesitant and telegrammatic, he looked very boyish and sweet – almost newly-born, if that makes sense.
At his bedside was Roxanna, his mother and Zosia, who’d come all the way from America to see him. At first he couldn’t remember her (“Mother – this is Sausage”), at times thinking he was still married to Tara. The news that he’d been shot, and that bits of bullet were still in his brain and he’d need surgery, made him react badly.
The episode’s writer, Ed Sellek, always manages to get some humour out of the situation (he’s the man who gave us Hanssen playing the theremin) and when Jac came to see Ollie his reaction was, “Oh no!” “They told me you lost your memory,” Jac (still in a wheelchair) said. “Who could forget you?” said Ollie.
As he started to remember things, it was like a touching revisit of Ollie’s life up to that point. He remembered Elliot Hope. He remembered how to juggle coins between his fingers. And, eventually, he remembered his life with Zosia, and that they’d split up, and why. And even though the surgery to remove the bullet failed and he’s faced with a struggle to recover, he refused to let Zosia sacrifice her career for him. “You went to be best version of yourself,” he said. Zosia said she’d keep all of their memories for when he was ready, and asked Dominic to look after him, and left.
Those moments between Ollie and Zosia were beautiful, and I loved the little detail that he’s been visiting her dad, Selfie, every Thursday and they sit watching Blue Planet together.
Meanwhile, Dominic and Lofty were providing some gentle comedy interludes as Dominic tried to find out what Lofty’s new year resolution is. Even Ollie noticed the chemistry between them, and Essie told Dominic to stop messing around: “You need to hold on to what you can.” Dominic told Lofty his new year resolution is to not let fate have the upper hand any longer. Lofty says his is to learn the saxophone. “Can you flutter-tongue?” Dominic asked him. Cheeky!
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