Holby City: The man who won’t take no for an answer

(Series 20, ep. 19 ‘Bubble Wrap’ by Ed Sellek 8.5.18) It’s becoming increasingly clear that Prof Gaskell is a little bit… shall we say single-minded in his pursuit of his medical trial. It’s also becoming increasingly clear that the trial isn’t going all that well. He’s had one successful patient – the one in Lisbon who miraculously walked again after the Prof cured him. But then his first Holby City patient, Fiona, died. The Prof let Essie take the blame for that one, even though he knew that the fault lay with his trial. His second Lisbon patient is currently in a very bad way indeed – organs all failing and only being kept alive by very extreme measures. The doctor who’s looking after her on a daily basis, Leo (Nathan Osgood), described her current state as being “buried alive.” This is dreadful, and cruel, but the Prof doesn’t see it that way. What he sees is that a miracle is just over the horizon, as long as his research continues. 

Gaskell went from Lisbon to Holby and back in the course of the episode’s hour, which proves that he can move very fast, although when we saw him operating on his Holby patient he was so awe-inspiring and magnificent that everything went into slow motion for a bit just so we could gasp and wonder. Roxanna has really started to wonder, too – whether her old mate the Prof is being entirely ethical in the way he lets nothing stand in his way.

We heard his thoughts as he watched over his Lisbon patient: “I will bring you back. I will give you your life again.” But has he crossed that fine line between being convinced that what he’s doing will eventually be for the general good, and believing too much in his own legend and not seeing the human-scale damage he’s doing on the way? This was the episode where that question was properly brought into focus, and I’m interested to see how far Gaskell is going to be allowed to go.

After cutting himself in theatre while he had hands covered in contaminated blood, Dominic was waiting nervously for the results of his Hepatitis C test. Serena broke it to him kindly – the test was positive. This means that for at least six months (apparently the condition can clear itself naturally in that time) he won’t be allowed near a surgical procedure.

His main worry was how to tell Lofty, though anyone with even a passing knowledge of Lofty would have known that he would take the news in his stride and be as lovely and loving as ever. Anyone with a passing knowledge of Dominic knows that he’s still learning to accept the love of someone as straightforward and genuine as Lofty, so it wasn’t easy for him. He was helped by patient Roger (Paul Clayton), who turned out to be Lofty’s saxophone teacher and was a man with a rather sunny, optimistic outlook on life.

Dominic needed Roger’s help, because an earlier encounter with Hanssen hadn’t yielded much in the way of wise advice. I found this scene interesting. Hanssen was wearing a jumper, and seeing him out of his suit somehow made me think of him as a different character. He wasn’t the looming CEO – he was that quirky, strange but rather pleasant man who works on Keller. Not having the suit and the responsibility (though he does seem to have a desk again) shows up his gentler, more human side, and it’s a side that no longer has all the answers, or even has to pretend to.

Meanwhile the current CEO, Abigail ‘Slippers’ Tate, endorsed Fletch’s choice for senior staff nurse, and Donna has got the job. ‘Slippers’ owed Fletch a favour after he headed off a possible complaint from Hannah Best’s father about her treatment, but we all know that Donna was the best woman for the job anyway and I’d have been livid if she hadn’t got it.

HOLBY CITY BEHIND THE SCREEN – because if you like Holby, you’ll like a book about Holby.

HALF A WORLD AWAY – “East Berlin is depicted in cinematic detail… A powerful story quite unlike anything I’ve read before” – Miranda Dickinson

13 Comments

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13 responses to “Holby City: The man who won’t take no for an answer

  1. thebigmart

    It would really be awkward if someone, presumably from outside got the job and had to work with Donna. I cannot think of anyone more suitably within the hospital who is qualified for the post.

    Out of interest does anyone know what a ‘Senior’ Staff Nurse does? I thought after being a SN, you became a Sister (is there a male equivalent of that post, I wonder?!).

    • In the process of doing my Adult Nursing degree so will try and answer as best I can in regards to nursing roles. Senior staff nurse have the same responsibility as a staff nurse but carry more seniority and experience, but not all NHS trusts have this role (certainly not in the trust I’ve worked in). The trusts I’ve seen have some nurses go straight up to Ward Sister before progressing to Senior Ward Sister, but some trusts do have the role of Deputy Ward Sister or Deputy Charge Nurse. The male equivalent which is slowly replacing the term Sister for some trusts are known as Charge Nurses.

      • thebigmart

        Thanks for the full explanation Ben.
        I did wonder if it was to do with budgets, ie create a new job that is above the one the person is already on, but not quite as high (or as well paid) as the most senior post.

      • I’m a Senior Staff Nurse and can confirm this. It’s basically more of a leadership role and up a band on the pay scale, before you get to Deputy/Full Sister/Charge Nurse roles.

    • The male equivalent of a Sister is a Charge Nurse. Wasn’t Fletch one of those before he got promoted?

      A brilliant review as always Sue. I thought it wasn’t possible to like (aka be ever so slightly in love with) Henrik any more, but when he appears wearing a woolly jumper I go all funny … He is just so very nice. Gaskell, on the other hand, could wear a jumper made from the softest cashmere and I’d never go all funny (not in that way anyway) when he appears. He will get his comeuppance. He will.

  2. I really don’t know what to make of Gaskell, but I certainly don’t trust him and turning into a more complex being. I’m hoping his past is explored to get an idea of why the way he is.

    I jumped for joy when Donna finally got the news she is becoming Senior Staff Nurse, would like to see her wearing her navy blue uniform again back in Series 12.

  3. Wendy

    I’m finding the Gaskell/Roxanna storyline tedious and bored by the staring into space.
    Thought Gaskell’s comment about Roxanna shouldn’t be weak after what happened to her husband and Oliver (my words not his) was cruel.
    Hoping the actors can be in time move on to a better plot.

    Thinking I’d enjoy much more reading Sue’s book which I’ve just got as a requested birthday gift !

  4. Ms Boods

    I said this before, but assuming that Gaskell is actually an older version of the fradulent doctor from Paper Mask (an early Paul McGann role) makes that whole storyline a hoot. Roxanna looks a little too much like Herbie the Misfit Elf to take her all that seriously (although she’s had some fab togs in previous weeks).

  5. Spud Glennerster

    Gaskills racking up the air miles with all those flights to Lisbon, or do you think he goes EasyJet?

  6. AwkwardName

    Tbh I don’t think much of Gaskell- every episode my opinion of him is ‘wow he’s a huge asshole’. I don’t really like his storyline much and prefer other people’s, like Dom’s or maybe Frieda’s

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