There’s more medical drama in Holby City

Tuesday: Holby City; (BBC One, 9.20pm)

Monday, 26th July 2021, 5:00 pm

On January 12th, 1999, the curtain went up on this sister series to medical drama Casualty, following the lives, loves, triumphs and tragedies of staff and patients on the wards of the fictional Holby City Hospital.

Over 22 series, it has served up high drama, swoonsome romances, nerve-shredding tension and the odd comedy moment, and provided a career springboard for hundreds of actors.

It’s also welcomed a galaxy of stars in guest roles, from Antonio Fargas – AKA Huggy Bear from Starsky and Hutch – and Dynasty’s Emma Samms, to footballer Kieron Dyer and veteran thesps Richard Briers and Ron Moody.

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Eli Ebrahimi

Aside from all the relationship shenanigans, Holby City has prided itself on its medical accuracy, with researchers advising on nursing issues and health service politics, while the cast is encouraged to learn how to give realistic injections, monitor blood pressure and check a pulse.

Amanda Mealing, who plays Connie Beauchamp in the series, says: “You need to know what you are doing and why. It is a complex and foreign thing to act out an operation,” revealing she had watched several real surgeries for training purposes.

It has also travelled to Paris and Ghana, used deaf actors – to the delight of the Royal National Institute for Deaf People – and been praised for its diverse cast.

Its storylines may have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous, and at around £370,000 per episode to produce, it’s not cheap, but for millions of fans, week in, week out, it’s been worth every penny.

As well as those who adore the tangled personal storylines, over 22 series, the programme has proved to be a much bigger inspiration

Jill Berry, president of the Girls’ Schools Association, said in 2009 that Holby City helped drive an increase in the numbers of female students deciding to pursue careers in medicine.

Consultant surgeon Andrew Raftery uses clips from the series as part of the University of Sheffield Outreach and Access to Medicine Scheme, aimed at encouraging pupils from under-represented social and educational backgrounds to pursue careers in the NHS.

Such things make the news that Holby City’s 23rd season will be its last all the more sad, and the public backlash understandable.

A petition to save the show has gained more than 40,000 signatures, while Hugh Quarshie, the show’s longest-serving cast member, revealed the cast and production team were told about the cancellation an hour before the public announcement.

As efforts continue to keep Holby City on the box, we can at least get our teeth into it for a few more months and welcome some new faces.

Here, Davood Ghadami, better known to EastEnders fans as Kush, joins the cast as Darwin Clinical Lead Eli Ebrahimi. He arrives at Holby at the same time as AAU nurse Madge Britton (Clare Burt) and it’s not long before they ruffle feathers. Among them is Ange, who is keen to prove she runs a tight AAU ship, despite dealing with some personal news. Meanwhile, Dom pulls out all the stops to find ways to treat Carole, but what she really wants is for him to be her son, not her doctor.

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