(Series 17, ep.6) Adrienne’s story line was never going to end happily. The actors and writers haven’t flinched from showing the emotional devastation, the little highs but many more lows of dementia for both the suffererer and those around her, particularly her family.
Sandra Voe gave the character of Adrienne great intelligence, humour and grace, which made it even harder to watch the disease make her act in ways that weren’t really “her” – physically attacking Serena being just an outward sign of her deterioration.
So when Adrienne looked her daughter in the face and asked her to “pull the plug” on a life that was increasingly slipping out of her control, we knew she meant it. Serena knew she meant it as well, but as a doctor and as a daughter she pushed it away. In the end, she didn’t have to make the decision and Adrienne’s death (following another stroke) was quiet, gentle and very, very sad. Continue reading
(Series 17, ep.5) The writers of this episode used the fact that it was being screened on Armistice Day to add another poignant angle to the story of Adrienne’s dementia – and to give us the magnificent sight of Serena driving a mobility scooter.
Serena encountered Eric (Dudley Sutton) in the car park. He was an old soldier in full military regalia, selling poppies and riding the aforementioned mobility scooter. He also had an excellent line in persuading senior doctors to part with cash. Unfortunately we know that the car park is never the safest place to be, and Eric got mugged. He wasn’t too badly hurt (he had a dislocated shoulder, but he popped that back in himself. The piece of broken samurai sword that had been embedded in it since the war was a bit trickier to deal with), but his injuries meant a short stay in AAU – where Adrienne had just returned, having been ousted from the ward she was in for plot reasons. She’s (understandably) not keen on AAU. “This is the worst hotel you’ve ever taken me to, George,” she complained to Raf, “and the staff are appallingly rude!” Continue reading
(Series 17, ep.4) Imagine you were given this choice: you could either go and work in a hospital in Chicago, where all the doctors look like George Clooney and Noah Wyle (or they used to). Or you can stay at Holby and spend your days being belittled in front of bigwigs and taken for granted by Selfie.
This was the choice offered to Top Nurse Colette Sheward, and the only surprise was that it took her almost 60 minutes to reach her decision.
I’ve never been a fan of Colette – the character was initially promising, but a combination of being tainted by association with Selfie and her deadpan delivery made her hard to warm to. It’s only been in recent-ish episodes, in her interactions with Serena and Fletch, that a softer side to her personality has really come out. But in this episode, I really felt for her. She so much wanted to fix everything for Selfie – sorting out his patient with her top quality people skills and doing her best to help Zosia, only to have it all thrown back in her face by a man who’s so arrogant and so wrapped up in himself that he has no idea that other people have feelings. Or maybe he does: “I spend all day manipulating people’s feelings,” he told Colette. “It’s just grey matter.” Says it all, really. Continue reading
(Series 17, ep.3) Mo might be “Doctor Mo,” star of Radio Holby’s crowd-pleasing medical phone-in, but that’s not really where she wants to be career-wise. She wants to be Miss Effanga, Holby’s well-respected hot-shot CT surgeon. In the zone, but not, as Jac pointed out, “the comfort zone.”
So Mo did what CT surgeons seem to do when they have a point to prove – she decided to do a spot of risky, history-making, ninja-level surgery that makes everyone else go, “Surely you’re not going to try that?”
Was she over-reaching herself and putting her patient at risk? At one point in theatre even Mo thought so. It was the point at which the machines go beep and people start wanting to page Jac. What Mo needed at that point was a pep talk. Possibly a pep talk from a devilishly handsome anaesthetist who just happened to have pitched up on Darwin that very day. It was only Jesse, back to be a thorn in the side of Selfie, but more importantly for this episode, to help Mo believe in herself, carry on with the procedure and save the patient’s life (and buy him a surfboard afterwards). Career credentials restored, Mo resigned from her Doctor Mo job – from now on we must once again call her Miss Effanga. Continue reading
(Series 17, ep. 2) What kind of doctor is Dr Raf Smug? “What kinda doctor are you?” asked Michael Spence. See – he wants to know as well. He’s a magical doctor, according to Fletch, who wanted some of that “Di Lucca magic” for a plastics case. Normally Michael Spence would be your go-to guy for this kind of thing (plastics, not magic), but he was busy elsewhere, and no other plastic surgeon was to be found in the whole of Holbyshire, so it was time for Raf to gather up what was left of his self confidence after Smug/Posh/Barf-gate and snap on those latex-free gloves. Continue reading
(Series 17, ep. 1) Only last week I was wishing that there was someone on Keller who would speak the plain truth. My wish came true in fine style this week with the arrival of the new Keller consultant, Fleur Fanshawe (Debbie Chazen) – a woman who apparently has no self-editor at all and doesn’t give a hoot whom she offends.
“You’re the eternal registrar with multiple wives,” she greeted Sacha (multiple wives? Wait till she meets Ric Griffin), “And a penchant for a floral shirt.” Dominic was rather smitten. “She’s deliciously diva-esque,” he sighed. He wasn’t so keen when she started calling him Doris, but her description of Sacha as “Pudsey” was cruelly accurate. She’s cruel only up to a point, though, and this is where Fleur Fanshawe’s true brilliance lies. Some people need the sharp sting of a thorn in their side to bring out their A game, and Sacha is one of those people. When Fleur barged into his theatre and took over a procedure over which they’d disagreed (“It’s like Godzilla versus Bambi,” said Dominic), Sacha finally found the nuts to stand up for himself. “What I did expect was your professional respect,” he said. And he got it, because Fleur isn’t a monster. She doesn’t care what people think of her, but she’s not being horrible for the sake of it. She’s blunt with patients for their own good (though the way she spoke to a patient this week was very similar to the way Zosia speaks to them, and when Zosia does it she gets into trouble) and blunt with colleagues if they need it. She’s also very funny. Continue reading
(Series 16, ep.10) My gosh but Keller was a mixed experience this week. On one hand there was a patient’s relative (who became an actual patient, as they so often do on Holby) played by Gary Cargill, a man with a speaking voice that makes me come over all unnecessary. It’s the Scouse accent. But on the other hand, we had the loss (maybe temporary, but who knows?) of the snake-hipped wonder that is Michael Spence.
Cargill played a man whose son needed a liver transplant. Dr Honey messed up by sourcing a liver that was from a donor of the wrong blood group (but I’ll return to Honey later). The patient’s dad had a liver, obviously, and he was super-keen to part with a bit of it to help his son. Michael went ahead with the operation despite discovering the father also had angina. When he suffered a heart attack after the surgery and it looked like he wouldn’t have long to live, he didn’t mind too much because he’d saved his son’s life. That’s the kind of selfless, devoted father he was. Continue reading
(Series 16, ep.6) “After the year I’ve had…” Chrissie kept complaining throughout this episode, and I think we were meant to sympathise with her and think, “Yes, Chrissie love, you have had a horrible year and you deserve to run off into the sunset with the most attractive American medic in the hospital.”
But instead of thinking about poor Chrissie’s breast cancer problems, and My Son Daniel’s traumatic bone marrow donation and Sacha’s deception re same, all I could think about was how horrible she’s been to Sacha. It was left to the ever-wonderful Jac to sum up the car crash that has been Sacha and Chrissie: “You sleep with him – you break his heart. You have his child – you break his heart. You literally beg him to marry you and you break his heart. And now you’ve even found a way to divorce him, yet still give him a little bit of hope so you can break his heart again.” It was all true, and Chrissie wandered through the episode being as smug, self-righteous and manipulative as she has been recently. Continue reading
(Series 16, ep.1) You can imagine that Antoine Malick wouldn’t make a great patient even if it was only for something fairly trivial like an ingrown toenail. He’d be tetchy and stroppy and wouldn’t do as he was told.
Now factor in that he’s almost lost his hand and will only ever regain 85% of the movement in it at best, and you have to feel sorry for him, and maybe just as sorry for the people looking after him.
This comprised a crack team of new Queen of the Hospital Serena, Michael Spence, Digby and occasionally Ric Griffin. The episode opened with a strange dreamlike sequence in which the four of them were ranged at one side of a long table drenched in a heavenly light discussing the fact that Malick is only half the man he used to be.
Ric thought Malick needed counselling. “We have a very good counsellor,” he said, though who that might be now that Psych Sharon has gone is anybody’s guess. Continue reading
(Series 15, ep.52) Henrik Hanssen has been one of the greatest ever Holby characters. A mystery wrapped in an enigma encased by a formal suit, he was always intriguing and fascinating. The character was beautifully written, especially in the early days when odd little clues about his background were leaked out bit by bit, but it was Guy Henry’s stunning acting skills that really brought him to life. Having to work with the constraint that Hanssen was a character who didn’t really show emotion, his inner feelings had to be revealed by the most subtle acting, and by clever, telling details like the way he ate his sushi and arranged his pencils.
The exit episode for such a special character needed to be very good indeed, and last night’s episode was wonderful (beautiful writing by Nick Fisher). There had to be quite a lot of suspension of disbelief – that Digby was allowed to operate on the woman he loves even though he’d been a puking, shivering mess not long before; that no neurosurgeon was available at all (I’m sure in an emergency one could have been summoned from The Mythical St James’ or the Hadlington or somewhere if there really wasn’t one at Holby); that Ric Griffin took no part in the surgery to re-attach Malick’s hand even though he’s always been the go-to guy when veins needed sorting out; and so on. But, really, I wouldn’t have wanted to sacrifice any of the drama just to make things more realistic. Having Digby and Hanssen outside the operating theatre biting their nails while a Guest Artiste Surgeon did all the vital stuff wouldn’t have been the same as having them perform heroic deeds themselves. Continue reading