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Holby City: Farewell Joseph Byrne, the world’s most beautiful heart surgeon

(Series 13, Ep.13Yet another “end of an era” for Holby, and a personal tragedy for me, as Joseph Byrne, The World’s Most Beautiful Heart Surgeon (Luke Roberts), decided to become Joseph Byrne, The World’s Most Beautiful GP, and move to Cumbria with baby Harry.

As if to underline what we’ll be missing, the episode was packed full of Joseph goodness. He performed ninja-level surgery (the fabled and risky “elephant graft” procedure); he smiled several times; and he took his shirt off quite a lot. To top it all, there was a scene of him with his shirt off, holding the baby, and smiling all at the same time. Fabulous.

He started the episode by asking Hanssen (who was on top form throughout this episode – sarcastic, witty, odd, almost telepathic occasionally) if he could work part time. Hanssen instead offered him Connie’s job.

Sadly there was a patient around who was just ready to speak Joseph’s brains and remind him that what a boy really needs is a fully present parent. Elliott had heard of a nice GP job in Penrith which would be absolutely perfect for a young family: all that nice country air etc etc. Joseph could just picture what a lovely life he and Harry and Jac would have.

Jac? Well, can you really imagine Jac living a Doc Martin kind of life? Especially when she’s just invested in a pair of “Connie Beauchamp shoes.” Obviously she was going to say no, but you could see how much they love each other and how much it cost her to let him go. “I’d give up my life, my career, my identity, for a man who’ll always put me second,” she said, and asked him to stay. But of course he’ll always put her second, because baby Harry comes first. So Joseph drove away (after first giving the door handle of his car a little polish – his OCD does come back at odd times) and Jac was left at the Window of Regret (the one overlooking the car park), in tears.

Meanwhile, Goth Nurse Frieda was made redundant, and also had a very difficult shift thanks to new registrar Malick, who’d decided she was lazy and incompetent. He’ll have to eat his words, though, as Frieda has now decided to apply for an F1 position – meaning that I’m going to have to start calling her Goth Dr Frieda from now on (yay!). As one era ends, another begins.

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Holby City: Farewell Connie Beauchamp, toughest of all cookies

(Series 13, Ep.11) This episode covered, literally, miles. It started and ended at St Pancras Station, where Jac was collecting some organs for transplantation and heading back to Holby with them on the back of her motorbike. Or she was showing an ambulance how to get to Holby by leading them on her motorbike. Either way, it was all a bit odd, but they were special organs, what with being a very rare back-to-front heart and lungs combo and all.

Faye Byrne was Christmassing with the scary female members of the Byrne family, Joseph’s mother Jane Asher and sister Cruella, plus Cruella’s children. This was in a lovely Regency townhouse somewhere in the vicinity of Primrose Hill, London. But when Faye decided she’d had enough Byrne-type meddling in her affairs, she popped in a taxi and moments later was back in Holby again. This is Holby which used to actually be Bristol. The taxi driver must have been thrilled with that fare.

Faye’s plan was to take baby Harry and a load of money from her and Joseph’s joint account, and escape to France, but she’s not very good with the Eurostar booking system, printers or online banking. This enabled Jac to apprehend her, once again at St Pancras, and off they went back to Holby again, to “tell Joseph.”

Anyway, all’s well that ends well on that front, as Faye agreed to let Joseph look after Harry (you’d only have to see him holding a baby and you’d ovulate just to oblige him) and she went off to Paris to work in a hospital there. Remind me to never get ill in Paris.

Meanwhile, Connie Beauchamp was getting increasingly stressed and upset by her father’s illness and the way people have turned against her because she’s perceived as turning traitor against her colleagues. Something had to give, and she told Hanssen she was leaving. Immediately.

I have to admit there was a tear in my eye as she said goodbye to Elliott Hope, because they were both in tears and I imagine not all of it was acting. I was glad that the writers gave Connie an upbeat ending once all the tears were done with. Back at St Pancras, over glasses of champagne she passed the baton of being Holby’s top surgeon and super-bitch over to Jac Naylor, along with some wardrobe advice. Jac needs to ditch the autumnal colours and pay more attention to accessories, and then perhaps, one day, she’ll be a worthy successor to the legend that will always be Connie Beauchamp.

And on that note, slinging an expensive-looking wrap over her shoulders, she headed to a train to a lucrative appointment in Brussels. A classy departure for the toughest cookie (as Hanssen put it) ever to grace the Holby corridors.

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Holby City: Is this a date?

(Series 13, Ep.10) Young Dr Oliver Valentine has been a bit rubbish recently, and I find this strange. I referred back to a blog post I did about an episode in May, to confirm my suspicion that he hasn’t always been rubbish, and found this: “He’s not an F1 any longer, he’s an F2. Hurrah! That means he’s on the same level as Lennie, May and Yuki on Casualty, which is a bit weird because Dr Oliver always seemed like a far more competent doctor than any of them.”

There. I knew he used to be good, but now he barely seems able to take someone’s pulse without them screaming in pain and Michael Spence yelling at him. So what went wrong for the former blue-eyed boy? Well, his eyes are still blue, but if you can point at anything going wrong for him it can only be that sister Penny’s star is in the ascendant, and it’s knocked his confidence. Either that or it’s just the scriptwriters being inconsistent just for the sake of it (which wouldn’t be the first time on Holby).

Aside from the Valentine action this week, which saw Penny going for an after-work debrief (or was it a date? Frieda -hilariously – thought so, and the champagne would seem to suggest something) with Michael Spence, there was a heck of a lot going on in this episode.

I have to admit I’m worried for Joseph. He’s gone all twinkly and smiley about Jac, and that is a lovely and precious thing to behold, but Faye still has her claws firmly embedded in him. She refused to go back to the psychiatric unit with baby Harry, and Joseph felt obliged to offer to spend Christmas with them. However, Faye was less than pleased when she discovered that Joseph’s mum, Jane Asher (and possibly his very scary sister) were also part of this gathering. At the end of the episode Faye was making a mysterious phone call – and I’m a bit nervous about what it’ll mean for Joseph.

Chrissie was getting on beautifully with Sacha after he locked them both in the basement (don’t ask), but she went off him again when she found that he’d told Jac she was living off caffeine pills at the time a mistake was made with a patient’s records. Jac used this information against Chrissie at a disciplinary hearing.

And Connie’s father is apparently destined for a care home over Christmas as Connie apparently doesn’t want to cope with him – and no-one is very impressed.

Next week: Big decisions for Connie and Faye.

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Holby City: Elliott doesn’t meet modern NHS standards

(Series 13, Ep.8) Could someone please explain to me exactly when Elliott Hope turned from being a brilliant and capable surgeon who also had a nice way with people, to being a bumbling twerp who gets so involved with patients that he constantly messes up?

Or is it that the world has moved on, while Elliott’ s skills remain undimmed? Maybe, like Charlie Fairhead in Casualty, Elliott is just too nice and too caring for the modern world. At least, that’s what Henrik Hanssen thinks, and what Hanssen thinks soon becomes reality in Holby these days. Goodbye Ric Griffin, fairwell Pale Thin Nurse Nicky Van Barr. And now, it seems that despite Connie’s efforts to showcase Elliott’s talents as a heart surgeon, she’s had to administer the Judas kiss after all.

Meanwhile, Joseph (who was The World’s Most Beautiful Heart Surgeon before and is now officially The World’s Most Beautiful New Father) decided not to divorce Faye, so he could look after her and Baby Byrne (“Has anyone signed a card for Byrne Baby Byrne?” Dr Oliver Valentine wanted to know. He is so witty). Baby Byrne is now called Harry, after Joseph’s late brother. But no sooner had Joseph come up with this foolhardy plan (the one about not divorcing Faye, not the one about calling the baby Harry, which was actually Faye’s idea) than Faye informed him she’d be taking herself back to the psychiatric unit just as soon as her stitches have healed up (again – but that’s another story).  So it looks like the divorce is back on again, and Joseph celebrated with a hot passionate team meeting in the staff room with Jac.

Jac needed something to take her mind off things, as the drama teacher from Waterloo Road whom she almost killed a few weeks ago by performing surgery when he was still full of Warfarin, has now decided to sue the hospital. Jac and Chrissie are both in the firing line, but Jac already covered her tracks by changing the patient’s notes. Sacha, however, can’t believe that Chrissie could have made a mistake – even though Chrissie admitted she’d been running on caffeine pills at the time due to sleepless nights with baby Daniel.

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Holby City: Jac’s the better woman, and Sacha’s the better man

(Series 13, Ep.7) Remember the episode way back when Joseph (The World’s Most Beautiful Heart Surgeon) and Jac (Robo-Doc) were trapped together in a contaminated operating theatre and they thought Joseph was going to die, and Jac spilled out all her feelings for him?

Last night’s episode had something of that intensity. The set-up was this: Faye had gone into labour but was refusing to leave the psychiatric unit, even though the baby was breech and in distress and she needed the facilities of a fully functioning maternity ward. This wasn’t Faye being cussed, although Joseph kind of thought it was (you can see his point – Faye does have form on the cussedness front, and he was terrified for the safety of his unborn child). Faye was terrified herself – in her mind, Linden and Archie were with her in the psychiatric unit, and by leaving the room she’d be leaving them behind.

When Faye had some non-birth-related pains, Joseph summoned help from Jac. And, surprisingly, Jac understood Faye’s fears. Jac knows what it’s like to love someone so intensely your mind can’t let them go; it was clear that everything she’d told Joseph in that operating theatre was still true for her. She tried to deny it to Joseph later, of course – she has her TermiNaylor reputation to maintain after all – but the chemistry between them was practically oozing out of the screen.

Meanwhile, Chrissie was on a promise from Irish Dr Greg. She’d even had a bikini wax (way too much info, really). But when Irish Dr Greg went all headstrong over a patient’s treatment and risked his career by letting himself be dragged into an MP’s publicity drive, he was saved by some deft work by Sacha. The MP, an attractive lady in an unpleasant blouse, responded to this by asking Sacha out for a drink. And was that a glint of jealousy we spied in the eyes of Chrissie, or were her eyes still smarting from her earlier depilation? Either way, Sacha turned the offer down, and Chrissie dumped Dr Greg, and they both headed home to put baby Daniel to bed together. Bless.

And Donna discovered that temporary nurse Kieran isn’t the plonker she mistook him for.

Next week: Jac and Joseph get naughty in the staff room, and Elliott lets Connie down when her father is admitted to Keller.

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Holby City: Faye vague and expressionless. No-one surprised

(Series 13, Ep.3) The loss of Linden Cullen has hit Faye Byrne hard. She spent the episode wandering around the hospital clutching a little yellow box full of his bits and bobs (I mean his stethoscope and ID card, not his other bits and bobs which she’s been wearing as earrings since she met him).

Joseph is a lovely man, but he’s (a) had enough of Faye and her nonsense, particularly as she’s telling everyone Linden was the father of the baby, which is not true, and (b) been to public school, so he told her in no uncertain terms to sort herself out. “If this is you holding it together then… let’s just say it’s not going well,” he said. Luckily a spare psychiatrist was wandering around Keller, so she was pressed into service to try and help.

Ric Griffin’s another one who needed sorting out. Frankly he’s not at the top of his game, doctor-wise, and that’s not what you want. His daughter Jess (Verona Joseph – looking absolutely beautiful) came back to tell him that he’s about to be a grandfather, but he was so preoccupied with the impending hospital cuts and trying to pretend his cancer has gone away that he didn’t even notice that she was a somewhat different shape from the last time we saw her.

Jess and Ric have always had a volatile relationship, and it took several arguments, Jess attempting to drive away (but failing due to a lack of petrol) and intervention by The Radiant Donna to get them to kiss and make up and get Ric to step down from his job until he’s better.

There was some high-level flirting going on between Chrissie and Irish Dr Greg, which was upsetting Sacha, who is in love with the mother of his baby.

And Jac was, as usual, absolutely magnificent. The sight of her with streaming eyes after trying Chrissie’s eye cream was hilarious, and I love the way she winds Sacha up. “Raindrops falling, Mr Distel?”

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Holby City: I don’t like delegating. It’s another word for defeat

(Series 13, Ep.1)  Art closely mirrored life on last night’s shiny new HD Holby. As the country faces hideous budget cuts, we saw the staff of Holby (the regular cast members, at least) huddled in a stairwell hearing new Joint Director of Surgery Henrik Hanssen telling them that it was “time for change” – costs would have to be slashed, staff may have to be “let go.”

Hang on – rewind a bit – didn’t Connie become Director of Surgery on her lonesome last week, after Michael Spence carelessly punched Ric Griffin? Yes, she did, and it’s fair to say that the arrival of Henrik Hanssen (Guy Henry) has not gone down well with her. He is a fabulous addition to the cast, though – an arrogant surgeon in the mould of Anton Meyer and Nick Jordan, he oozes around the hospital ever so elegantly dropping bombs of unease and discord wherever he goes.

He had particularly bad news for Michael Spence, who had a lovely vision of himself saving the hospital by taking on lots of lovely lucrative cosmetic surgery. Hanssen has instead appointed him as the head of no-one’s favourite ward, AAU.

The quote in the title comes from the glorious Connie Beauchamp, so we can be confident that Henrik Hanssen is not going to have things entirely his own way. Connie was, however, having a bit of a crisis about her young daughter Grace. She was left in tears when Elliott told her that, all too soon, Grace will be 18 and Connie will wonder where the precious childhood time went. The way is clearly being paved for Amanda Mealing’s exit (sniff).

The other big story arc is, of course, the Joseph/Faye story. In the aftermath of Linden’s death, Jac warned Joseph that Faye would try to reel him back in. She reminded him about Faye’s dodgy past, particularly with respect to leaving a trail of dead husbands (under mysterious circumstances) in her wake.

This made Joseph suspicious, and he sought out Beautiful Dr Penny Valentine, who told him that Faye and Linden had argued loudly not long before his death, and when Penny arrived on the scene of his murder the only person she saw with him was Faye. Is Joseph now thinking that Faye killed Linden? Earlier on, she’d said something quite strange. Worrying about her baby she said that she couldn’t cope if anything happened to the baby, because it was “all I have left” of Linden. But it’s Joseph’s baby, isn’t it? He was certainly led to believe so, and has had a blood test done on the quiet just to make sure. Oh, Faye Byrne. The chickens are coming home to roost.

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Holby City: The last of Linden

(Series 12, Ep.55) The episode started at the end, as Holby often does, with Joseph and Dr Penny Valentine looking on in shock as paramedics covered up a body in the hospital garden. Then the action went back to seven hours previously. Who was the dead person? It would have been a mystery if the Sky EPG hadn’t already helpfully informed me it was Linden (grrr!).

So Linden Cullen met his end by being cracked over the head with a vodka bottle, wielded by a heroin addict. It was all Faye’s fault – she’d been stroppy and unsympathetic with the junkie (who also had a heart problem) and had him thrown out of the hospital. Belatedly, Linden had realised that you can’t trust a word that Faye says. Joseph has been telling him this for months.

Maybe we can also blame Linden’s habit of ducking into the hospital chapel – that’s where he was when he was supposed to be on the ward giving the junkie some methadone. Whenever Linden has a problem he always rushes to the hospital chapel.

He started his Holby career by being rather splendidly enigmatic and tortured. He was a man who held a secret anguish: he was closed-off, unapproachable, staunchly moral and somewhat repressed. As such he was fabulously attractive, in a Thorn Birds kind of way. There’s nothing a girl likes more than a challenge, and several people, including the late-lamented Maddy, tried to crack his holy facade.

No woman got close until he fell for the icy charms of Faye Byrne. Loving Faye came with a double dollop of guilt for Linden – not only was he still in love with his late wife Olivia, but Faye was married to Joseph. The Olivia problem was sorted out when her ghost gave him permission to stop feeling guilty about her death and move on with his life. The Joseph problem was a little messier, and Linden got thumped a few times for his pains. Was Faye worth it? You’d have to say no. Continue reading

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Holby City: Heaven knows I’m miserable now

(Series 12, Ep.54) We’re used to the Holby device whereby patients are used to “speak the brains” of one of the main characters. Recently an inspirational patient persuaded Ric Griffin to have treatment for his cancer, for example.

Linden Cullen is not such an easy nut to crack, however. This week, a patient who had tried to kill himself to be with his dead son (whose death was partly his fault) correctly spotted Linden’s core problem – he was still wracked with guilt over the death of his wife Olivia, and this was stopping him from embracing love and happiness in the arms of Faye. The patient’s advice was that you can either be alive, in which case leave the dead where they are, or you can go and join them.

So Linden toddled off to find Faye, who was languishing overnight in Obs & Gynae after getting a few twinges. Had he come to declare true love and pledge his full and cheerful ongoing participation in the life of Faye and Baby Byrne? No, he had not. He’d come to gaze sorrowfully at her before skulking off again. Miserable git.

A lot more fun was being had by Donna, who persuaded Sacha that Jac fancied him. Could it be possible? She was being unusually friendly, even helping him out in surgery – heck, even smiling occasionally. Sacha asked to see Jac at the end of the shift, and they had one of those amusing conversations where Jac insisted there was no “us,” that she liked Sacha and he was a “lovely guy,” but that there would never be any more between them. But I don’t think I’m alone in hoping there will be something between them one day (staff Christmas party?), because they’d be the oddest, most fun couple.

A lot more fun than Linden and Faye by a merry mile.

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Holby City: An eventful night

(Series 12, Ep.53) Connie Beauchamp (looking gloriously glam) went off for a night out, leaving Darwin in the capable hands of Irish Dr Greg. This didn’t please Joseph, and you can see his point. He’s been at Holby for ages, has been a consultant for a while and (lest we forget) is The World’s Most Beautiful Heart Surgeon. It’s got to smart when a whippersnapper who’s been around five minutes gets put in charge of you.

It was similarly painful for Michael Spence when Annalese told him she was moving Ric Griffin into Spence Towers to look after him following chemo. So what you end up with is a night shift staffed by cross people.

At least things were looking up on AAU. For a start, Linden and Jac were off duty, which always makes for a more relaxing time. An agency nurse, Nait, was summoned to assist Sacha and Frieda, and as soon as we saw his guy-liner we knew he’d get on well with Frieda. In fact he was an old friend of hers – they had private jokes, secret handshakes and he even made her smile. It was a lovely thing to behold. Sadly Nait had a slightly unorthodox way of dealing with difficult patients, and when Frieda discovered he’d given drugs to an old lady she had to sack him.

Things weren’t going much better for Michael Spence, who was dealing with the sons of two old friends, who’d been injured falling from the roof of their posh school (Joseph’s old school, as he kept telling everyone, but no-one was interested except me). One of them had knackered his liver due to years of heavy drinking, and the other one ended up brain dead due to his injuries. Michael decided to bypass all the proper transplant protocols and whip the liver out of one brother to give to the other one. He was stopped in the nick of time by Connie before he could commit career suicide – and kill his patient, because it turned out the liver wasn’t a match for the brother anyway.

All of this confirms that Connie should never go off and leave the boys to run the hospital, not even for one night. They only get themselves in bother. Heaven knows what’s going to happen when she leaves (which is tragically soon).

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