Holby City: It was home

(Series 23, ep. 50 by Joe Ainsworth 29.3.22) I’ve gone all tearful about this episode over at Metro so please go and have a look. But first…

I can’t really believe this is the end of Holby City. This programme has meant so much to so many people’s lives. For me it turned from just being my favourite TV show to being the best job I’ve ever had when I wrote the Holby book. The weeks that I spent at the studio researching the book and talking to all the incredibly talented, kind and lovely people who make the show are memories I’ll treasure forever.

I actually got a small pay cheque from the BBC when I was invited to a script conference for series 16, so I think I can actually lay claim to being part of the story team. For an hour.

Back to the actual episode. Line of the week, of the series, of the entire show: (Jac, obvs) ’This is what the NHS means to us. Not a badge on a cabinet minister’s lapel. Not a number down the side of a bus. It’s a nurse missing her break to sit with a lonely patient. A surgeon grinding out a 15 hour op. The sound of sirens coming to the rescue. Thursday night applause floating across the rooftops. It’s all of us doing the best we can in impossible circumstances. It’s something to believe in. It’s home.’

I loved that they took the chance to have one last go at the useless, lying, self-serving government, and praise the wonderful NHS, in such a beautiful and poetic way.

Line of the week 2: (Sacha) ‘You love me really’ (Jac) ‘You know I do.’ As last (living) words go, that was perfect.

Line of the week 3: (Nicky does well in surgery) ‘I can’t wait to tell Jac.’ That feeling that the person you want to share the highlights of your life with isn’t there any more.

These final episodes have been incredible and I’m just left gobsmacked once again at the skill and genius of the people who write this show. To be able to pivot from being a continuing drama to wrapping things up in a dramatically satisfying and emotionally truthful way takes such clever writing and they absolutely pulled it off.

In the end there was very little separation between what was going on in the story world – Jac’s death – and the real world – the cancellation of the show. Knowing that the actors and crew were in real life saying goodbye to something they loved made seeing them say goodbye to Jac even more heartbreaking.

When Rosie Marcel told me that Luke Roberts had promised her he would be involved in her exit storyline, I pictured that it would mean a rekindling of their romance and a happy ever after. That would have been the Hollywood ending, but it wouldn’t have been true to Jac’s story. I’m glad that in the end Joseph was the custodian of part of her legacy. The scenes with him and the other returning actors could have seemed a bit too contrived in less assured hands, but it was so sincerely done and carried such a strong message about organ donation that it fit perfectly with the tone of the story.

And those final scenes as the camera pulled back on all those people doing their jobs, carrying on as if it’ll all go on even when we’re not watching, that was just lovely. It was a thank you to the NHS, to the fans, and to every single person who’s ever come through those gates at Elstree to work on the show.

Goodbye, Holby City. You’ve been brilliant x

35 Comments

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35 responses to “Holby City: It was home

  1. HolbyNut

    Loved this episode. Beautifully bitter-sweet.
    I have also loved this blog.
    Thank you. Will miss Holby x

  2. mrssatan

    It’s been a rollercoaster ride.

    I will miss the show.

    I will miss the characters.

    I will miss reading your Holby reviews every week.

    😢

  3. Otter

    A great ending and although she is my favourite character it seemed right for Jac to die
    I found your review so emotive
    Thanks for the blog Sue

  4. A wonderful send off. I loved it, and this review just encapsulates everything I feel about it, so no point in trying to reinvent the wheel. Something became blindingly clear to me though. And I’m not sure it has for anyone else – I haven’t heard anyone else mention it – but it’s now obvious why Holby was axed.

    The BBC (and our government) hated the fact a prime-time, high ratings show could so cleverly make digs at them, albeit in a subtle way. Holby was dangerous. A threat to certain areas of our establishment. That’s why it’s still needed. London-centric my ass. I never had pure London vibes from this show and I was born in the capital. This show was as diverse as it gets.

  5. Pat Doohan

    Thank you Sue for all your reviews of Holby over the years. I’ve really looked forward to reading them, as you always get everything spot-on. I shall miss Holby so much, but will still be watching Casualty, having watched it since it started. I look forward to your reviews of that, too.

  6. Tuesdays won’t be the same again. I feel emotional again after reading your review. But I missed Joseph. Did I blink??

    What are you going to do on Tuesday nights now, Sue? Twiddle your thumbs?!!!

    How about organising a Holby City Reunion Party?!!! (The only ‘problem’ is where – outside the Elstree studios?)

  7. Excellent review as always Sue. I know it’s probably a silly thing to say about what was ‘just’ (it wasn’t, was it?) a TV programme, but I feel the structure has gone out of my week a bit.

  8. I watched every episode of the 23 years. Loved it more in recent times. It was a great way to end it (if they had to). Disappointed by the retrospective photos being hidden by the credits – are they available elsewhere?
    I’ll miss it, and your excellent reviews.

  9. Thunderchild

    A few final thoughts;
    – Mo returning in her organ donor role was a nice touch and somewhat ironic given how much Jac was against having the unit on Darwin to start with.
    – Luke Roberts honouring his promise to return for Jac’s final episode.
    – Nice to see Ric and Serena one last time.
    – I think Max became one of Holby’s best characters
    – The final sequence with the team dealing with the incoming traumas and the camera panning away to show the hospital building was exactly how ER bowed out.
    – A perfect ending, will miss the weekly reviews.

  10. Carol

    Such a brilliant show an the last show was excellent, the writers excellent as well, if the wasn’t for the writers an brilliant actors this show would not have been so good, I am so going to miss Holby. 😢😢😢👍

  11. Toni

    This made me cry all over again. I am always aware thatHolby is a drama but over the years I have enjoyed,no, had pleasure viewing and getting to know the wonderful actors, the script writers and production staff. Reading this I felt tears just flowing down my face, unbelievable for just a drama but I guess that’s how the majority of viewers have been, we believed the storylines. How we will now be deprived of our weekly little bit of enjoyment, so sad. Thank you for such an emotional write up.

    • I was emotional writing it, too. This morning I found myself wondering about next week’s Holby, wondering how they’d deal with the aftermath of Jac’s death. It took a few seconds to remember that wouldn’t be happening. It honestly is like a bereavement in that sense.

  12. Louise Young

    It was perfect.

    Thanks for your insightful reviews, always a good read!

  13. Lynda Kennedy

    Thank you for writing such a good series, fab characters but most of all for making a Jac Naylor brought to life by fabulous Rosie Marcel her one liners were on par with Maggies Smiths in Downton Abbey , for me Jac was Holby

    • Jac was a brilliant character. The writers and Rosie Marcel always had her doing surprising and new things but without ever losing sight of who she really was. I can’t think of many characters in TV history who’ve been so well-rounded.

  14. Geoff

    Thanks very much, Sue, for your wonderful reviews. I will miss them almost as much as the show itself. One final question: why wasn’t Luke Roberts (or Joseph Byrne) listed in the final credits, along with the other returning actors?

    • You’re right, he wasn’t. I wonder if it was some contractual thing because of stuff he’s doing in the US? Surely they can’t have just forgotten him 😀

  15. HolbyFanMw

    The scenes after the organ donations were so quick .. I had to watch again to see Luke Roberts. He was with the retired Headmaster who was getting the Lung (?) but he looked so different! .. By the way I agree
    about the Govt not liking the criticism of it – however this often occurs in “Casualty” too- and long may it continue!

    I will miss the programme terribly – I started watching Holby because of Art Malik the actor who was in “Jewell In the Crown” – I think he was in Holby in the early 2000s?

  16. What a beautiful final episode, one of the saddest I can ever recall watching.
    Thank you, Sue, for sharing your love of the show with us all. I can only hope that your publishers commission a new edition of your Holby City book to see it through to the final episodes.

  17. In case there are still viewers getting e-mails that there is a new post here, I am copying an article from my local paper. It was written by Paul Welsh MBE who is a Borehamwood writer and historian of Elstree Studios

    I watched the final episode of Holby City shot at the BBC Elstree Centre with sadness. I know from private conversations that despite good ratings and a 60,000-signature petition handed to the BBC it was doomed. The series needed two floors of the old 1960 office block and exteriors. Alas, I am told it would cost over £7 million to repair that office block as bits are falling off and as the BBC are reviewing the future of the BBC Elstree Centre that is the real decision behind cancelling a still popular series.