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Holby City: People are dead! People are in agony!

Holby City Series 20 - Ep46(Series 20, ep. 46 ‘Report to the Mirror, Part Two’ by Andy Bayliss 13.11.18) This week’s review is over at Metro as usual. A few additional thoughts:

– This episode went total body-horror, with Jac having the awful and full knowledge that to get the dreaded implant out of her she had to place her life in the hands of a man she knew she couldn’t trust at all. It’s scary enough having surgery when you know the surgeon is sane and competent and has your best interests at heart, but Gaskell? Yikes. And you could see all of that playing across Jac’s face coupled with the absolute determination that she had no alternative.

– The sight of Lana’s body with open wounds in Gaskell’s lab was one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen on Holby. I loved how for a few seconds Ric and Sacha couldn’t quite comprehend what they were seeing either. It was absolutely horrific.

– The line of the episode for me was the Professor saying that Essie was ‘lying down in a cold, dark room.’ If Hanssen hadn’t immediately chipped in to say that she had a headache, would other people have picked up on just how sinister that sounded?

– The showdown at the lake was quite epic. I liked the hallucinatory bits where Hanssen thought Gaskell was on the bank with him rather than being in the water. Hanssen’s struggle to overcome the effects of the neurotoxin and stay with reality was mirrored by his struggle to understand the full extent of what Gaskell had been doing – particularly when he realised that Gaskell had killed Roxanna.

– This whole storyline has been ambitious and brilliantly done. Gaskell was a bit sinister right from the get-go, but never went full mwah-hah-hah until right at the end. It’s been gruelling, though. Hopefully there’ll be some lighter storylines coming up in the run-up to Christmas. After all this (admittedly brilliant) drama and horror we could do with a bit of sparkle, some romance, and a very large glass of Shiraz.

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Holby City: I see dead people

I see Roxanna! (Picture: BBC)

(Series 20, ep. 42 ‘Stains’ by Patrick Homes 16.10.18) For this week’s review click over to Metro, but before you go here are a few random thoughts:

– Donna and Zav – is ‘Zonna’ ever going to be a Thing, do you think, or are they just going to continue having these Moments? When he told Alex that she was in her late thirties with two sprogs and she didn’t need the likes of either of them, I think he was speaking more about his own insecurity. Or is he really a twonk?

– Hurrah for Sacha and his clear-sighted assessment of Prof Gaskell, and having the balls to tell him to his face. At least there’s one person at Holby who doesn’t subscribe to the Cult of Gaskell. Sadly Hanssen seems just as far away from learning the truth as ever. What’s it going to take to expose the Prof’s crimes? Or will it go undetected and poor Roxanna will have died in vain? Surely that can’t happen?

– Essie was getting very judgemental about that murderer patient, wasn’t she? Particularly when you remember the rather ugly history of her own grandfather. Then she went and told Hanssen what a genius Gaskell is and completely threw him off the scent. Oh, Essie! Not your finest week.

– When the murderer asked Gaskell to kill him and Gaskell didn’t, it shows that he does have ethics – but in Roxanna’s case ethics were over-ridden by the necessity to keep his trial going, come what may. If I’m being kind I might call him a ‘bigger picture’ kind of guy.

– When Steven was talking confidently about nits to Jac, and Fletch said Steven had never so much as been near him with a nit comb when he was a kid, I thought Steven’s life-changing secret was going to be that he had a secret other family somewhere that Fletch never knew about and he’d spent many years happily examining his children’s heads for lice in a way he’d never done with Fletch.

– An insight into the writer’s thinking: episode writer Patrick Homes (@PatrickHomes) tweeted yesterday ‘Tonight’s episode of #holbycity was written listening to Pixies “Where is My Mind” on an endless loop. It may or may not show…’

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Holby City: Too much too soon

The greatest gift of all (Picture: BBC)

(Series 20, ep. 40 ‘Inscrutable’ by Tony Higgins 2.10.18) Pop over to Metro for this week’s full review and a little extra piece about Jac and Sacha. Before you go, a few additional thoughts…

– I was so excited when Bob Barrett told me that Sacha was going to be moving in with Jac, because it was something both he and Rosie Marcel talked about when I met them last year for the Holby book. It seemed like quite a random idea at the time, but in the context of Sacha’s mental health problems (and Jac’s physical health problems) it really works. Jac really is kind when good friends need help – such as when she secretly financed Professor Hope’s Kibo project.

– I hope Scary Sue from ITU is going to be a regular character. As well as her having a brilliant name (obvs), I really liked her over-sharing northern personality.

– I liked Leah, too. Berena fans are possibly not best pleased at someone making a move on Serena, but Serena has always been a woman with needs. She’s resisting so far, but will her resolve be as strong come Christmas party time? I like that Leah has come to medicine a few years later on in life, so she’ll have a different angle on things from the usual F1s.

– Once again Hiran Abeysekera was really touching as Tyler, and his scenes with Bob Barrett were lovely.

– Hanssen kissing Roxanna’s hand! So absolutely heartbreaking.

– I knew Essie would blame herself for overdoing it with the alphabet board. I bet the Prof is happy he planted that little seed. Essie’s no fool, though, and once Meena and Hanssen have recovered a little, everyone is going to start joining the dots. I hope.

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Holby City: Sacha at the end of his tether

(Series 20, ep. 35 ‘Man Down’ by Michelle Lipton 28.8.18) For a full review of this remarkable episode, whizz over to Metro. Before you go, a few additional thoughts:

– What a brilliant performance by Bob Barrett. Since Sacha had his initial breakdown when he was shoplifting etc, he’s seemed fine on the surface but at times a sadness, despair or anger has leaked out. But Sacha is the man who looks after everybody else, and as this episode showed, those are the people who sometimes don’t feel they’re allowed to ask for help (for more on how Bob Barrett sees this aspect of Sacha’s character, have a look at his chapter in the Holby book).

– I loved Ric Griffin’s entirely logical, sensible, reading of the situation in the earlier scenes on the roof. He seemed to have a response to everything Sacha said, but it was in that way that’s trying to be helpful but isn’t really helpful because it’s making assumptions and not really listening to what the other person is saying. It was fantastic writing by Michelle Lipton, and perfectly acted by Hugh Quarshie who showed us that Ric went on a journey of understanding as he finally realised how bad things were with Sacha. His response at the end, to really listen, to hug, to quietly talk, was what Sacha really needed.

– Connor really was a lovely character and I was so impressed with Luke Higgins. Connor was funny and kind and flawed and very loveable, as he had to be to make us feel the extent of Sacha’s pain when he couldn’t save him. I loved how Tyler was there at the end to give Sacha a glimpse of hope.

– Holby just looks gorgeous these days. It looks like a feature film or big, heavyweight dramas like Line Of Duty. The production team all show real ambition and vision in the way they bring the stories to the screen. The scene with Sacha on the roof and Ric hurrying into the hospital building below – all in the same shot – took my breath away.

– If you haven’t seen my interview with Bob Barrett about the episode, have a look here. He also told me some juicy snippets about things coming up which I can’t possibly divulge right now, but let’s just say that there’s a lot of exciting stuff ahead!

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Holby City: Jac’s dying! Or is she?

(Series 20, ep. 33 ‘Bargaining’ by Katie Douglas 14.8.18) For a full-length review of this super-tense episode, head over to Metro. Before you go, here are some random thoughts:

– Serena telling that porter that his arm would have to be amputated was a bit much, wasn’t it? Isn’t there something in the ethics handbook about that sort of thing?

– It must have been the lightest script that Rosie Marcel has had recently. I think the longest sentence she had to learn was ‘Fix me.’ 

– Prof Gaskell banging his head on the desk was amusing. Was it frustration that his trial is so close to succeeding, yet it inconveniently keeps killing people?

– The Prof kind of reminds me of Donald Trump in the way that he rejects people who are critical (Roxanna) and tries to surround himself with people who can reflect his own magnificence back at him (Essie). Obviously he has nicer hands and better hair than Donald Trump though.

– There’s a lot of blue, glowing stuff around Holby recently. They also have it in the new operating theatre on Casualty. I don’t know what it is, but it’s very pretty.

– Serena’s comment, ‘I’m a hell of a woman, Jason, and I intend to keep it that way.’ Are Berena fans worried about Serena’s susceptibility to flattery from Steven? Should Bernie be worried?

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Holby City: Well that was a shock

(Series 20, ep. 32 ‘Bygones’ by Jon Barton 8.8.18) For my more in-depth look at this week’s episode, please head over to Metro. But before you go, read on for a few random thoughts.

– The scene where Serena helped Evie tell Fletch how she felt and he reacted with tears was brilliant. Alex Walkinshaw and Macey Chipping have such a natural on-screen rapport, and it came across as absolutely realistic and genuine.

– I honestly didn’t guess that the person in the bed at the beginning/end was going to be Jac. I thought Steven, Evie, possibly Essie (though it probably wouldn’t have been Fletch at her bedside), maybe even a patient who’d suffered as a result of Fletch being too preoccupied with his family troubles. So that ending came as a real shock.

– Steven was appearing everywhere – he was in Pulses, he was in Fletch’s office, he was in Albie’s (when Albie’s was actually closed). If he gets this porter job Fletch wants him to go for (and of course he will), expect him to turn up in the basement, on the roof and in random operating theatres. Expect him to find parts of the hospital we didn’t even know existed.

– Sacha’s tears when Essie got the news about her cancer! Bless him, he’s like a well of loveliness. And I’m ever so glad Essie is coming back.

– When Donna drew the man with the beard, I thought it might be Tom Wyrick, the patient on Darwin. That would have put the cat among the pigeons if Lofty had transferred MRSA to Darwin.

– Actually my first thought about Donna’s drawing was that it was Jarvis Cocker.

– It’s amazing how even though most people seem to die or suffer terrible effects not long after the Prof’s scalpel has touched them, everyone is still (just about) convinced he’s a miracle worker.

– I loved Essie’s shirt dress thing.

– And how can Donna just fling a fascinator on her head and look fabulous?

– I’m now desperately worried about Jac. I don’t do prayers, but if any eyelashes fall out this week that I can wish on, I know what I’ll be wishing for.

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Holby City: When life gives you lemons

(Series 20, ep. 30 ‘Two for Joy’ by Ed Sellek 24.7.18) Head over to Metro to read my in-depth review of this beautiful episode. But before you go, here are some random thoughts in handy bullet points:

– Jac failed to win an award, which annoyed her somewhat. ‘I went back to work after being shot in half. The least they could do is put my name on a paperweight,’ she reasoned.

– The Darwin patient never spoke and we didn’t really see him, but we did see his partner Cassie (Ruby Bentall), who was somewhat… odd.

– Fletch told Jac that if she needs a punchbag she can use him. To which I reply, ‘Not his face, though.’

– It seems that Jac still isn’t out of the woods as far as surviving Gaskell’s scalpel is concerned. He’s noticed that she might be having some neuro issues. To which I reply, if Jac needs a punchbag she should use Gaskell, not Fletch.

– There are many reasons to love Lofty, not least of which was his decision to summon Carole Copeland to Holby. It’s been far too long since we last saw Dominic’s mum.

– Donna’s line when she was looking at Lofty’s grandfather’s wedding ring and Lofty asked for it back: ‘All right, Frodo!’

– It warmed my heart to see Dominic, Sacha and Essie back together again on Keller, even if it was only briefly.

– I can’t help thinking that if all those lemons were intended to be squeezed over salmon baguettes in Pulses, they must sell a huge number of salmon baguettes.

– The double proposal was beautiful and funny and touching, and I loved it. I also loved how Carole was so honest about Dazzle – he’s a ‘proper little nightmare’ and not the marrying type – but Lofty knows all that and loves him anyway.

– I’ve enjoyed having Essie back at Holby, and I really hope she’ll be coming back to work now. The relationship between her and Sacha is a beautiful thing, and she’s one of the characters who gives Holby real warmth and heart.

What did you think of the episode? After you’ve had a look at the Metro review, please pop back here to leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Have you got the official Holby City book yet?

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