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Casualty and Holby City

Doctors in the house

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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

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 ā€“ 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 ā€“ 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.

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Philippa Warr

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