Spoilers: Essie dies in devastating scenes as Holby City goes off the air
There was so much drama in tonight’s episode of Holby City that it felt about three hours long – but in a good way.
There was high emotion as Essie (Kaye Wragg) and Sacha (Bob Barrett) arranged a (very) last-minute wedding, suspense as Selfie (John Michie) spent most of the episode up to the wrists in Ric Griffin (Hugh Quarshie)’s brain, and more dastardly deeds from Cameron (Nic Jackman).
Then the most poignant, devastating ending. It was intense.
Essie’s death was always going to be sad. She’s been a warm, friendly, funny character, beloved as much for her bitchy gossiping with Dominic (David Ames) at the nurses’ station on Keller as for her touching and real relationship with Sacha.
Her cancer storyline has been full of emotion, with Sacha heartbreakingly trying to hang on to her as long as possible by sometimes misguided means.
Fletch (Alex Walkinshaw) made Sacha realise that he had to face the fact that his time with Essie was short and he shouldn’t waste any more of it avoiding her. ‘What am I going to do with you?’ Essie said to Sacha as they made up and hugged. ‘What am I going to do without you?’ he replied.
So Essie suggested they should get married that very day. Sacha set about making the arrangements, contacting his rabbi (David Horovitch) to do the ceremony at the hospital and enlisting Jac (Rosie Marcel) to get the rings and be ‘best man.’
Essie asked Fletch to give her away. And Dominic came to her room to do her hair. This was a beautiful scene, with Essie and Dominic laughing together like they always do. His face when she wasn’t looking was so sad.
Dressed in her wedding dress (now a few sizes too big because of the weight she’d lost during her illness) and clutching a bunch of red roses, Essie was pushed in a wheelchair by Fletch towards the chapel. Everyone they passed told her she looked beautiful and wished her well.
In the multi-faith room Sacha had brought baby Isla, the room was decked out in flowers – ‘Forecourt chic’ said Donna (Jaye Jacobs) as she saw the last-minute display – and everyone waited for the bride. Tragically, Essie died before she could get to there. It was left to Fletch to break the news to Sacha.
Jac was late and rushed to Sacha with the rings – and he told her what had happened. Then he crumpled to the floor in Jac’s arms, in an echo of what happened with Zosia after Arthur Digby died. The whole storyline was the kind of thing that Holby does so well – a heartfelt, heart-wrenching farewell that affects the whole Holby family.
That would usually have been enough drama for one hour, but we also had nail-biting scenes as Guy Self talked his way into theatre and ended up operating on his arch rival Ric Griffin, as a worried Louis (Tyler Luke Cunningham) and then Donna tried desperately to intervene.
There were several points where it seemed that it was all over for Ric, as various things went wrong. When Max (Jo Martin) discovered what was happening she rushed to the theatre, but Selfie insisted, ‘I’ve started this and I’m going to finish.’
As the credits rolled it was still unclear as to whether Ric would survive. After the operation we saw Selfie in Ric’s room, bidding an unconscious Ric a ‘fond farewell.’ And then we heard from Max that Ric hadn’t come round from the anaesthetic and was on a ventilator. The fate of Holby’s longest-serving surgeon is still apparently on a knife edge.
After Nicky (Belinda Owusu) and Cameron slept together in the last episode, she assumed they were now an item – but it appeared that he was more interested in Chloe (Amy Lennox). Chloe had arranged to meet the man she met last week for a coffee, but Cameron sowed a seed or worry in her by telling her to ‘be safe.’
As she’s already wary of getting close to someone after her experiences with Evan, this was calculated to put her off and it worked. ‘Maybe there’s hope for me yet?’ Cameron said, but Chloe firmly told him that was never going to happen.
So he went straight back to Nicky, who turned down a date with Lovely Louis to have another on-call room ‘romp’ with Cameron – who made it clear that they should keep their ‘relationship’ a secret.
The most sinister part of this is that Chloe had been wearing a new shade of red lipstick and Cameron asked Nicky if she ever wore red lipstick. Nicky needs to get as far away from him as possible, as fast as possible.
Holby is now on a break until later in the year, when it will resume with slightly shorter (40 minute) episodes filmed under new coronavirus restrictions and featuring Covid-19 in its storylines.
It’s going to be a long, tense wait to find out what happens to Ric, how Sacha copes without Essie and how quickly (or whether) Nicky realises that Cameron is a wrong ‘un. I can’t wait.
Sue Haasler is the author of five novels and the official BBC Holby City book, which you can read about here.
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