By: Laura Denby
BBC drama Holby City will be concluding next year, with a confirmed end date of March 2022. Following the announcement, there was an outpouring of shock as loyal viewers mourned the news. The loss of Holby will be the end of an era after 23 years on air.
An official statement from the broadcaster declared that they aim to ensure that “when it ends, Holby goes out on a high.” To do so, the programme must commit to delivering sensitive, satisfying conclusions to its ongoing plots, two of which double as significant medical stories and personal, character-driven journeys.
Dominic Copeland (David Ames) is currently struggling after an accident resulted in him being fitted with a stoma bag. Dom’s destructive behaviour has been hard to watch, but it follows a pattern he is well known for. Now it’s time to move away from vindictively lashing out at his loved ones, take steps to tackle his pent-up anger and learn to accept his body as it is.
A focus on this, with relatable and realistic references will go a long way in reaching viewers who may be dealing with the same new adjustment. If explored in the right way, the drama could make a real mark in helping to reduce a stigma that should no longer exist.
Max McGerry’s (Jo Martin) life-changing situation also has potential to resonate with the audience. After undergoing a double mastectomy, she has been left heartbroken after looking at her scars for the first time. Like Dom’s, her distress is more than understandable. But this storyline highlights the risks of the Breast Cancer gene she has been diagnosed with, and the benefits of having preventive surgery.
This process should not be rushed, and with several months left there is time to watch Max come to terms with everything at a natural pace. Let’s see her in a position to return to work as the powerful, strong woman she is, delivering a positive message by proving that the loss of her breasts can never take away from who she is.
Both plots have raised crucial awareness while staying true to the medical theme, and the show now has an opportunity to do them justice as it draws to a close. There’s no better way to showcase exactly why Holby City has earned its status as a beloved continuing drama - a show so valued that numbers are soaring on a petition to reverse the BBC’s decision.
Beyond the final episode, the Holby family deserves to live on within Casualty’s narrative. Last year, both programmes reflected the real life strength shown by our NHS during the coronavirus pandemic. Their individual instalments were equally valuable, representing those departments of the hospital that the other show steers away from.
Going forward, the existing show could maintain Holby’s legacy by merging together instead of remaining quite so separate - making those memorable, occasional crossovers a more permanent fixture. Of course, Casualty has its own cast, but multiple faces from its sister show may still be needed from time to time.
We are still awaiting the arrival of consultant Eli Ebrahimi (Davood Ghadami). Holby’s fate now appears to leave him with a shelf life; but if the show lays the groundwork with a central role in its last few months Casualty could benefit from initiating him onto their team next year.
Henrik Hanssen (Guy Henry) was recently reinstated as the hospital’s CEO, so could continue to make appearances - both in his senior capacity and as a skilled surgeon. Adrian ‘Fletch’ Fletcher (Alex Walkinshaw), too, may have more of an excuse to pay regular visits as the Director of Nursing.
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Other long-term characters don’t have to disappear completely, either. A patient is admitted with a bowel-related complaint? That’s a job for lovable Sacha Levy (Bob Barrett). A case viewers are following calls for a transfer to AAU? Cue a cameo from Ange Godard (Dawn Steele).
This doesn’t necessarily have to take away from the action back at Casualty’s base; and would be a great way to acknowledge the fact that our favourite fictional hospital will still be functioning beyond A&E. From nurse Donna (Jaye Jacobs) to porter Jason (Jules Robertson), there’s a place for everyone.
Ultimately, this groundbreaking soap must be honoured with an uplifting finale that doesn’t bow out on any kind of cliffhanger. If the show dedicates its remaining airtime to delivering hopeful resolutions, and later lives on through Casualty, then Holby really will end on a high note.