BBC medical drama Holby City aired its final ever outing tonight (29th March) with the heartbreaking death of Jac Naylor (Rosie Marcel).


It was the ending nobody wanted - least of all me. But while a river of tears may have been shed while watching, ultimately everything that transpired was bold and in character - and formed the basis for a strong, fitting finale.

Jac’s fate put her right at the centre of Holby City’s conclusion in a way that ensured her personality was honoured throughout. Despite her deteriorating condition, Jac was firing on all cylinders right from the opening scene.

First, she put a stop to Reverend Lexy Dunblane’s (Jenny Howe) prayer - because even in death, renowned sceptic Jac wasn’t going to turn to God.

Then came the trademark delivery of another classic one-liner, as Jason Haynes (Jules Robertson) asked Jac how her life-saving operation had gone. “Complete failure. Hey ho!” Protégé Nicky McKendrick (Belinda Owusu) even sought her expert advice one last time.

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When Jac later instructed Fletch (Alex Walkinshaw) to set up an advanced order preventing any more medical intervention, all became clear. She was taking control of her life while she still could - and her decision shaped the entire episode.

Jac passed away in the show's final episode. BBC

As Jac went on to suffer a stroke, Fletch was forced to stop Sacha Levy (Bob Barrett), Elliot Hope (Paul Bradley) and Max McGerry (Jo Martin) from performing a procedure that would buy their friend more time.

Looking back, of course we should have expected Jac’s story to end on her own terms. A returning Mo Effanga (Chizzy Akudolu) summed the situation up perfectly when she learned of Jac’s final say: “Calling the shots to the last.”

Indeed, just as Jac’s determination to continue working while fighting to beat her brain tumour was completely typical of her, this was also the case for her choice to stop her body from betraying her further down the line.

As those closest to Jac congregated in her hospital room, the group recalled her personal nicknames for each of them. Who can forget Jac barking “foetus” at poor Nicky?

We would have hoped to see characters reminiscing whatever the plot entailed. But could anything else have called for such an intimate moment? The conversation felt much more natural than it would have done without an ‘end of an era’ energy playing out within the story.

Jac played a part in Hanssen's happily ever after. BBC

Holby City needed that game-changing narrative to underpin its big farewell, and nothing was going to pack that powerful punch more than the loss of a beloved, fan-favourite character like Jac.

Her death became the catalyst for a poignant tribute to the show, the NHS - and Jac herself. Known as much for her exemplary skills as a surgeon as she was for her sharp tongue, Jac saved countless lives in her time. Her legacy continued through the donation of her organs.

Her heart went to Lexy, long-time friend to all at Holby. Given Jac’s penchant for dusting herself off and getting the job done, it felt rather appropriate to see Henrik Hanssen (Guy Henry) swiftly informing Lexy of the good news.

Jac’s remaining organs were transported to various hospitals across the country; we saw Jac’s former flame Joseph Byrne (Luke Roberts) in an ambulance with an elderly patient who was to receive one of her lungs. A teenager was due to receive her spleen as it was delivered to Ric Griffin (Hugh Quarshie), while Jac’s kidney went to a young medical student, with Serena Campbell and Bernie Wolfe (Catherine Russell and Jemma Redgrave) sharing a knowing look as they prepped for theatre.

Not quite finished with her far-reaching impact, Jac’s influence even led to a happy ending for Hanssen, as he headed to Leeds to hand over her liver - surprising his thrilled love interest Russ Faber (Simon Slater) in the process.

In the closing moments, it was Jac’s voice we heard. Her love letter to surgery and medicine seamlessly led on to describing the selfless work carried out by real-life members of the NHS, illustrated by the bereft staff of Holby heading outside to handle a major emergency.

We’ll be feeling the absence of Holby City for a long time to come; but the final chapter was a moving, thought-provoking work of art, with a tragic backdrop that stayed true to the values of the show until the very end.

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