Long gone are the days when serial drama ratings were built on character depth as opposed to increasingly implausible storylines, but there are still occasions when simple human interaction can provide totally compelling television—and Tuesday night’s episode of Holby City was a case in point.
Holby City has been one of my favourite television programmes for many years now, but inferences that the series is solely responsible for my in-depth medical knowledge are absolutely without foundation—I watch Casualty as well….
The regular cast includes two of the strongest characters in any current serial drama (series, “soap”, whatever you will) in Jac Naylor and Henrik Hanssen, played quite brilliantly by Rosie Marcel and Guy Henry respectively. Both individuals have an almost indestructible emotional exterior and a manner that occasionally takes “professional” dangerously close to “unacceptable”.
Maybe such behaviours reflect the pressure and responsibility of senior clinical management, but on those rare occasions when a surface crack appears, even the partial revelation of the reality behind a public persona can be every bit as dramatic as any tram crash or the like. Hanssen’s treatment of a dying Arthur Digby and the hug that Jac gave a distraught Zosia after her friend had passed away were understated, but wonderfully emotive moments that will surely have affected many of those watching—all the more so because the audience wouldn’t necessarily have expected displays of such genuine compassion from the characters in question.
The episode’s main protagonists, however, were Arthur Digby (Rob Ostlere) and his wife and fellow doctor Morven (Eleanor Fanyinka). Their on-screen relationship could perhaps be described as “unlikely”, but these two fine young actors made the incredible credible; and their final moments together, both as Arthur lay dying and the scene’s ethereal parallel, were incredibly moving. All sorts of thoughts and memories raced through my mind as the tears flowed.
Elaine was at work, but all I wanted at that moment was to have her home and hold her in my arms. No fictional on-screen disaster (however spectacular) has ever done that and I congratulate Rob, Eleanor and everyone involved in Holby City for creating something so very special.