Casualty and Holby City

I guess this is where I discover whether anyone who reads RPS also watches Casualty or Holby City. I’m toying with the idea of doing weekly (or weekly-ish depending on work trips) roundups of the two BBC soaps for this Saturday Supplement malarkey.

I caught up on this week’s Casualty and Holby City episodes over lunch breaks when I came back from Atlanta. I actually tried to watch Casualty while I was out there but BBC licensing restrictions meant I had to wait. Let’s take Casualty first.


Casualty currently has two long-running plots. One is about paramedic Dixie’s ongoing involvement in the life of an elite paramedic she went on a date with one time (although I think it turned out to not be a date but maybe still was a date really). I’ve forgotten the exact difference between being a paramedic and being an elite paramedic but it mostly seemed to revolve around being normal versus being a caricature of a jock. It turns out that Jess (she’s the elite paramedic) has a girlfriend-or-possibly-a-fiance-I-have-forgotten called Nikki and Nikki has anger issues. Nikki has been hurting Jess’s daughter Olivia and this is the episode where FINALLY, off the back of Nikki hurting Jess, all is revealed.

Nikki has been all “OMG Dixie is trying to split us up Jess do not listen to her lies” for ages but Dixie gets Olivia to tell her mum what’s been going on. Jess is horrified. At this point we also find out that when Jess fell down a really big hole in the middle of a forest a few weeks ago that was because of Nikki too. I think soaps can be really good at talking about things like domestic violence and other issues but they also sometimes end up layering on a load of extra drama that rather detracts from that effect. In this instance there’s eventually a knife-based standoff at the worst children’s party in the universe before the whole living room and Nikki catch fire. Dixie saves everyone. Jess leaves Nikki. Nikki receives horrible facial scarring from the fire. Olivia gets food from the vending machine.

Dixie still carries an enormous torch for Jess (not a good idea given the conflagration at the princess party) and the episode ends with an indication that she’s going to pursue that at a later date. Obviously that will be smooth sailing when it happens.

Plotline TWO is that former main hot doctor Cal Knight (who has been pushed down the hotness ranks by the arrival of hot nurse Jacob Masters – I am not kidding, they make him show off his abs all the freaking time and he’s now scary Mrs Beauchamp’s love interest instead of Cal) STILL hasn’t told his brother Ethan that a) their mum is not their biological mum and b) their biological mum has the hereditary disorder, Huntington’s, meaning he and Ethan are both at risk. Ethan works in the same department and has been treating Awful Nikki, by the way.

Charlie Fairhead (yes, he is still in Casualty) knows all of this because he has been giving Cal lots of fatherly advice about whatever and is all “I CANNOT TAKE LYING TO ETHAN ANYMORE YOU MUST TELL HIM EVERYTHING”. That is when a Convenient Plot Device Patient arrives. She is pregnant but has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. That means she has a caesarian scheduled for a few weeks time and chemo to follow. Naturally she has not told her husband any of this so the whole episode is basically Cal giving her the advice Charlie has been giving him and maybe learning that he should tell Ethan they both might have Huntington’s disease.

The episode ends with him not telling Ethan because Ethan has had a bad day thanks to Awful Nikki. Instead he gives Ethan his crisp sandwich. Charlie watches the brothers sitting together sadly and assumes they have had The Talk. The situation is now primed for Charlie to put his foot in in because that is what well-meaning soap characters do.

In the background we have comic relief in the form of the charity auction and Lofty (who is played by Lee Mead – the guy who won Any Dream Will Do) gets a spray tan. Dr Dylan Keogh continues to get the best one-liners in the show.

Holby City

This week is a concept episode. It’s not on the same plane of existence as Casualty’s noir episode (which they called Holby Sin City). Instead it cuts a typical Holby plot with “documentary” footage. The documentary crew are actually following one of Holby’s resident narcissists, Guy Self, as he attempts to cure the symptoms which are preventing a violin virtuoso from playing his violin.

Yes. They called the narcissist Guy Self.

Anyway, this documentary has an inordinate amount of footage featuring a barista from the hospital coffee shop who I swear has never worked there before but seems to know everyone’s coffee orders. She’s like Mary Poppins for coffee or something. She even saved Guy the Sudoku puzzle in the newspaper. His own daughter remarks that she didn’t know he liked Sudoku. NO-ONE DID, ZOSIA. NO-ONE EXCEPT COFFEE POPPINS.

Mina Anwar (Maggie Habib from The Thin Blue Line) plays the coffee lady and talks to Guy Self about some medical concerns. She is “asking for a friend”. She is the friend and later collapses. She is also nice about him to the documentary crew. So nice that I started to skip through some of the tedious niceness.

I think we are supposed to be gearing up for some kind of character crisis with Guy Self. Like, Coffee Poppins and her vision of him as a caring genius who is still in love with his dead wife versus his rampant narcissistic showmanship and lust for power (he wants to take over the entire hospital, by the way). I really struggle to give two hoots about Guy Self so this is not an amazing prospect from my point of view. The best parts of the episode are when Holby’s OTHER resident narcissist, Jac Naylor, turns up to deliver some utterly un-sugarcoated home truths. I love Jac Naylor. God, why can’t we go hang out with her for a while in this episode. Her and Mo and Oliver and Zosia.

Anyway, Guy nearly kills Coffee Poppins because he’s an awful narcissist but he does save the violinist. “I manipulated you into foregoing theatre, a direct result of which was that you nearly died,” he explains. He is pushing her away because he saw her gushing about him on the documentary footage (and, I think, breaching a bunch of confidentiality). Jac is on hand to offer zero emotional support immediately afterwards. She calls him on his confession to Coffee Poppins: “That’s why you had to crush her, to make sure she didn’t stick around to be disappointed by you. Almost an act of altruism. As enacted by a sociopath, of course. Will the real Guy Self please stand up?”

He’s all “He just did,” like that was all super meaningful. I guess maybe he’s just decided to be a horse’s ass full time now or something. I wish he would just get on with it.

The rest of the episode involves an entirely tedious organ donation plot, and Dr Digby confessing his love for his junior doctor, Morven. I love Morven and I feel like she should not be with Dr Digby. Their relationship feels entirely weird. Morven can do so much better than Arthur Digby and I really do not get any chemistry from them onscreen. His declaration of love was cringey but not in an amusing way and it’s like, if the rest of this series is going to be Morgby relationship nonsense punctuated by Guy Self monologues I will be furious.

God, the best part of this episode (aside from Jac’s bits) was Serena Campbell (Consultant general surgeon and Digby’s boss) going on a rant about how awful inter-office romances are. Serena is excellent, by the way. “I can’t begin to tell you how much firefighting I have to do on a daily basis just to stop the petty squabbles and politics of envy that come from workmates who can’t seem to stop going at it like rabbits.” She is in the process of sending an email to remind some other underlings that sex in a cupboard is a breach of the hospital’s code of conduct. “IT IS SO DULL,” she shouts.

Also, Essie is not pregnant.


  1. HopperUK says:

    This is so much better than actually watching. Do Emmerdale! My mum tried to catch me up on Emmerdale and it’s bananas now. It used to be about a farm.

  2. Rizlar says:

    Dr Digby should not be allowed to have any relationships, they are all terrible and he should feel bad. Am I the only one who is still utterly convinced that he’s gay?

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      Philippa Warr says:

      I don’t think he’s gay, I think what’s happened is that the only relationship he’s had in the show that has been written with any real substance is his friendship with Dominic so it’s sort of skewing that way. Their friendship is the only one where I feel like Digby seems warmer and more like someone you want to spend more time with. The episode where he goes to Dom’s parents’ caravan was one of those, you know?

      • Rizlar says:

        Yeah! I literally expected that to be a turning point in his sexuality and personal identity. Ah well.

  3. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    This is the column Pip was born to write.

    • lazy8 says:

      Totally agree. Would love to read updates on a regular basis.

  4. Cooper says:

    I love it when soaps do concept episodes.

    My favourite is an episode of Eastenders that’s ‘A Day in the Life of Dot’. It follows the character from morning to evening and eschews the usual melodrama of the soap in roder to focus on everyday interactions and actually manages to use the mundane to further plot and character. It was like the writers saying “Yes, we know how to write naturalistics dialogue that conveys character, meaning and plot, but we chose to write the usual Eastenders stuff”. Wonderful

    • Cooper says:

      Oh! And Dot’s other feature episode, that half hour monologue, was brilliant too…

    • Topperfalkon says:

      They’re probably made to do this so that the writers stop stabbing themselves to death from the tedium of it.

  5. Topperfalkon says:

    I never really got into Casualty, but I occasionally follow Holby. I agree about Serena, and those lines alone suggest I shouldn’t have missed that episode.
    I’d like them to dial down Zosia’s crazy and let her have a normal love life for a little bit (until one or other of them gets stabbed in a typical “It’ll be fine, let the crazy person go” plot the other one is responsible for). Playing Digby as the perpetual loser is getting boring, so perhaps his relationship with Morven will fulfill his wish of getting a heart. Wait… that’s a different thing.
    There also needs to be more of Hansen doing what he does best and another showdown between him and Self.
    Beauchamp needs to come back to Holby because it’s weird seeing glimpses of her in Casualty before switching channels.
    In particular I think they’ve reached the pinnacle of Jac Naylor’s character and shouldn’t try and develop her any further. Everyone knows she’s a cold-hearted bitch with just enough sense of morality to come through when it’s actually important, but isn’t above throwing out some witty remarks now and then.

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      Philippa Warr says:

      I feel like we’re on the verge of a Hanssen storyline because of that Christmas card he got so I’m looking forward to him getting more screen time and some potential Guy battles.

      Did you see the episode a while back where they tried to give Jac Naylor some backstory? I’m glad they seem to have stepped away from that because I don’t want it to be all “she is only amazing because trauma and abuse”. I wanted her to be a cold bitch with no explanation.

      I oscillate on Mrs Beauchamp and whether she should be in Holby or Casualty. I think I like her in Casualty at the moment because if she went back to Holby then Holby would be massively OP.

      • Topperfalkon says:

        I see what you mean. I think I missed the episode that went into Jac Naylor’s backstory, which was probably a good thing, but made this week’s episode a little confusing. You were bang on the money about Hanssen though, this week’s episode was a fantastic piece of drama. It looks like they’re easing up with Digby as he’s starting to find his place.
        Also, you might be right about Beauchamp, and it would do Holby a disservice by making it a bit too… intense. This week’s episode, for example, wouldn’t have worked as well if she was one of the ward directors.

  6. Chiron says:

    I gave up shortly after Jacob turned up.

    Dr Keogh is easily the best guy in it.

  7. Sentinel Red says:

    I never watch Casualty but did watch Holby for a good while during the glorious reign of Queen Doctor Frieda of the Dead, scaring both Girl and Boy Valentine, along with most of her patients, while having a heart of gold if you excavated enough. Alas, the actress who played her left, as did Penny Valentine (in a horrific train crushing affair), Spence and Ric pretty much vanished into the occasional sporadic appearances here and there, and the strange and terrifyingly tall man in charge buggered off to Sweden for a while and I lost interest.