The astonishing thing about Holby City’s new 40 minute format is how much they still manage to pack in to the shorter time available.
As with the previous two episodes, this one had some major stuff going on for several of our main characters, with Max (Jo Martin) struggling, Cameron (Nic Jackman) being a prize creep again, some big developments in the Jac (Rosie Marcel)/Kian (Ramin Karimloo) romance – also involving all three new F1s – and Donna (Jaye Jacobs) getting a bit hot and bothered as she tries to pretend she doesn’t have feelings for Xavier’s brother Alex (Miles Mitchell).
A new character, mental health nurse Lucky Simpson (Vineeta Rishi), seemed to have a hand in most of the storylines. I suppose being the first and only mental health nurse at Holby means she was always bound to have a busy first day.
Luckily for Lucky she already knew several people at Holby, which always makes it easier to settle into a new workplace. One of them was lovely Louis (Tyler Luke Cunningham), so that was nice.
Less luckily for Lucky, the other was Max. It turned out that Lucky and Max had history, as Lucky had previously tried to ‘ruin Max’s career’ by not turning a blind eye when Max was blind drunk.
Worse still for Max, during the time she was estranged from Louis, Lucky had been in contact with him the whole time. Throw in a disagreement over how to deal with a patient’s homophobic parents, plus Max’s financial woes because she’s been secretly paying for agency nurses and PPE from her own money, and it was a perfect storm of a horrible shift for Max.
She ended up telling Lucky to resign ‘or I will fire you.’ Lucky is digging her heels in for now, because there are still a few people left to whom she hasn’t offered unwanted advice, so she’s very much needed.
While Louis wasn’t busy dealing from the fallout of his mother being all shouty and obnoxious to patients and staff alike, he was telling Nicky (Belinda Owusu) that if he was her boyfriend he’d be shouting it from the rooftops.
This is in stark contrast to Creepy Cameron, who started the episode with two secret girlfriends. He and Chloe (Amy Lennox) had got back together but were hiding it from Nicky. And Nicky thought that she and Cam were still a couple but were hiding it from Chloe.
This emotional house of cards collapsed when Chloe overheard Nicky telling Cam she didn’t want them to break up. Cameron’s reaction to this wasn’t to fight for the woman he really wants – this is Cameron we’re talking about – but to take the path of least resistance by going back to Nicky. This behaviour brought out the Scottish tiger mother in Ange (Dawn Steele), who marked Cameron’s card. As he slinked off she told him, ‘Aye, on your way, pal.’
To Darwin now, where Jac was still stressing about her old friend from the psych unit, Clayton (Robert Lonsdale). He was in a bad way, medically, so in an effort to help Jac, Kian summoned reinforcements.
New F1s Skylar (Phoebe Pryce) and Jeong-Soo (Chan Woo Lim) were somewhat intimidated to be working with The Jac Naylor, while third newbie Josh (Trieve Blackwood-Cambridge) pretended not to be. Jac was entirely unimpressed with the lot of them: ‘I don’t need infants wasting my time’ was her assessment.
In the end, though, it was the diligent Jeong-Soo who made the breakthrough about Clayton’s condition, realising that he had another tumour which was probably caused by the diet pills Jac didn’t know he’d been taking.
She doesn’t know about the pills Kian is still taking either, but when a much-recovered Clayton told her he had romantic feelings for her she told him she was with someone. This would be good news for Kian if he knew about it, but when we last saw him he had his Thinking Face on because he assumed that Jac prefers Clayton to him.
Meanwhile, Donna was surprised to see Xavier’s brother Alex back on the wards as an HCA, after doing well during the Covid crisis episode. There’s definitely chemistry between them which Donna is doing her best to ignore.
She told Alex they can’t even be friends, ‘Because I am your supervisor and it would be unprofessional.’ This has never stopped anyone in the history of Holby from having a relationship, but Donna’s real worry is that it feels all kinds of odd to have feelings for her dead boyfriend’s brother.
This is also why she got cross when Dominic (David Ames) was bitching about the speed at which Sacha (Bob Barrett) has apparently moved on from Essie.
It doesn’t help that new fling Jodie (Sian Reese-Williams) is ‘never not on this ward,’ according to Dominic – and that she’s been bad-mouthing Dominic. He gives as good as he gets, though, referring to Jodie as Sacha’s ‘sexual sticking plaster.’ Ouch!
Sue Haasler is the author of five novels and the official BBC Holby City book, which you can read about here.
Holby City continues Tuesday December 1 at 7:50pm on BBC One.
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