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British hospital dramas can be cliched affairs and yet despite sticking to
the well-worn rules, Holby City has managed to stand alone as much more
just a Casualty spin-off.
The formula of eager young surgeon kept in check by irascible veteran with a God complex works a treat here, thanks largely to the chemistry between Michael French (Nick Jordan) and the sublime George Irving as Anton Meyer.
Unlike French, Irving's lack of TV baggage has made his character here all the more believable. Roles in The Professionals, Bergerac, The Bill and Boon have given him a good grounding in TV drama and his current role as the self-assured Cardio-Thoracic Consultant Surgeon seems to have been tailor-made for the South Shields-born actor.
The second run has seen the character develop, largely thanks to the arrival of his old sparring partner Mike Barrett (Clive Mantle) who manages to keep Meyer in check while dispensing a few dreadful gags.
"I had this one patient who swallowed a spoon - I told her not to stir."
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'Holby City' bounced on to our screens in 1999 as a close cousin to the
established hospital drama 'Casualty'. With a strong initial cast
including the silent, sexy Mr Mayer (George Irving), nurses Jasmine
(Angela Griffin) and Julie (Nicola Stephenson), and doctors Nick
(Michael French), Victoria (Lisa Faulkner) and Kirstie (Dawn McDaniel),
it had a lot of life and some good story lines. Then Jasmine was
stabbed, Kirstie was involved in drugs, and Victoria was killed by a
resentful parent of a patient who died in her care.
Hunky consultant Mike Barratt (Clive Mantle) who had been in 'Casualty', also joined Holby early on, and the sparring between him and Meyer was memorable (especially loved a Christmas episode where it snowed right on cue and we even got a 'ho ho ho' from Meyer). Later consultants have had their fair share of problems - Ric (Hugh Quarshie), still in the programme, has had drug and gambling addictions; Alistair (Dominic Jephcott) had a wife in IVF treatment (Janice, played by Siobhan Redmond, was a doctor in the children's ward), an affair with a nurse (Chrissie, played by Tina Hobley), and eventually came back after a year's gap to be killed in the recent Christmas episode; Tom (Denis Lawson) was a drunk; Tash (Thusita Jayasundera), was a mixed-up lesbian, and so on, and so on.
Tragedy struck the nurses, too. Lovely Liam (Adrian Lewis Morgan) was crippled after falling from a balcony - in a terrible twist of fate, Laura Sadler, who played Sandy, died in real life in similar circumstances when still in her early twenties. Steve (Peter de Jersey)and Ben (David Paisley) were killed off in a car crash, but not until Ben had a hard time coming out to his parents. Lisa (Luisa Bradshaw-White) suffered when her dad was killed in euthanasia by his new wife, and the prolific Chrissie miscarried a baby - handy since she wasn't sure who the dad was.
All this, and plenty of sexual shenanigans, before we even consider what the patients have gone through before they get to the hospital wards. The episodes have been consistently well-written and tightly directed, and with the current cast including talent such as Art Malik as Zubin (has just had an affair with Ric's nurse daughter Jess), and Sharon Maughan as Chrissie's mother Tricia, it seems that life in the fictional world of recuperation is going to move along just fine.
I have been watching Holby City since it began, although it suffers slightly from the story lines revolving too much around the staff the show does give us some intense drama when it wants to. I would recommend watching this to anyone who loves a good drama based around the setting of an hospital. Holby City also has some great characters like the wonderful newcomer Amanda Mealing who plays Connie. Here's to the future of Holby City - may it be long and prosperous and continue to flourish. I don't think Holby is as good as it once was however but it's still a top notch drama and one that the BBC should be very proud to air.
As all the other comments have been made about only Series 1 and 2 and
is now near the end of its 4th series, I need to renew them. Of course I
have grown up since the last comment I made ('mathewowen') and now realise
that Holby City really isn't that realistic when you look at the hard graft
and rush that goes on in real hospitals. It's true that a lot of the staff
are more like counsellors than medical staff, and it's also true that a lot
of the one episode characters (in every episode different patients are
featured with their own storylines) come from soaps.
However, Holby City is still watchable stuff, and I think with the two new wards: Maternity and the Children's Ward, every episode is even more different, and there are so many new characters that are, for the most part, well played.
Holby is now viewed as a soap because of its all year round showing, and what with more staff storylines involving affairs and staff becoming patients, it's still good drama. Watch out for some eps where there are some scenes set in Casualty (Holby is a spin off of Casualty) with Casualty characters (likewise in a recent episode Mr Meyer was featured in Casualty being as arrogant as ever).
Okay, some could say that there are more staff storylines as the writers as exhausting the patient storylines. However, there are have been some pretty memorable staff storylines in the past 2 series, such as Mr Meyer being shot, Janice Taylor's (she's the consultant on the children's ward) husband having an affair with Sister Williams, Kath Shaugnessy playing victim to domestic violence, Liam Evans learning to cope with life in a wheelchair, Victoria Merrick being murdered (it was a classic 'whodunnit') and Danny Shaugnessy marrying an illegal immigrant who's first husband turned up though she thought he was dead, to name a few.
And the good thing about Holby City is that the whole set and atmosphere is like a real British hospital. You can almost smell the disinfectant!
Watch Holby City next time it's on and see for yourself. It's good drama.
Holby City has inspired me. 16 years old, I've watched the episodes over and over again and I love the atmosphere. I have now decided to go into medicine, as the lifestyle of the characters in this programme has enthralled me. The acting is brilliant, the effects are wizardry, the atmosphere is memorable and it's a fantastic spin-off from 'Casualty' - Another medical drama set in the same hospital.
'Holby City' used to be rubbish, but with the introduction of Connie, Elliot, Mark, Sam S etc, it has turned into a very respectable series - something I would try and get home to watch. I think it is 'Casualty' that has gone downhill - the story lines never seem to go anywhere anymore and I'm not really that bothered if I miss it for an episode of 'Friends', as I can usually catch up because there is never much going on in an episode. If not, my parents can describe the particular episode in quite a lot of detail in a few short sentences. However, if I missed an episode of 'Holby' I would know about it as the story behind it is so much more complex and richly acted through.
'Holby City' has to be one of the most boring TV 'dramas' I have ever had the misfortune of watching. The plots are insipid, tedious, and cliched beyond belief. Does it possibly exist as some sort of retirement home for washed-up soap-opera actors ? Save yourself the pain and go and read a good book.
I watched Holby City since it came out and I have always loved it, but
I found myself particularly enraptured with the series since the
arrival of Connie Beauchamp, played by the sublime Amanda Mealing.
The episode where she drove in at the beginning bedecked in full scarf and sunglasses, femme fatale garb, only to crash into Will was one of my favourites.
I've heard people say her stuffs repetitive but I think it's great fun seeing her boss the boys around and dish out her scathing comments.
The storyline with Will is a joy to behold - it may just be me being insanely sad but every week I can't wait to see what she'll throw at him.
I only hope she stays for a long time.
Ah, where would we be without the joys of Holby City?? If you enjoy gory
operations, pain-in-the-arse patients and the entire staff going for a
in the bar at the end of the day and waking up in bed with each other the
next morning then this may very well be for you.
Im a medical student, and surprisingly Holby City is not that far from the real world, if only Ed would put a tie on! Things may be a little OTT but the series is enjoyable, inspiring and not afraid to take on real issues of consent, racism, addiction and honesty in medical practice. It is most definately light relief from real-life hospitals and universally enjoyed by medics! A spin off of Casualty it has outgrown its predecessor and taken hospital dramas to new hights. For those of you who regularly watch ER this is similarly absorbing but there is slightly less of the completely impossible week-in week-out (ie helicopters don't fall on the consultants every other week)
Like any long running drama they do have the continual problem of killing off all the best characters and dragging story lines out for several months, but this show is definately worth a look on a cold rainy tuesday eve.
I like both Casualty and Holby City, though despite their quite short episodic lengths, both do suffer from some problems with pacing- it is a bit slow, and perhaps not very easy to stick your teeth into. However, it is decently acted, I enjoy the performances of Amanda Mealing, Paul Bradley, Robert Powell and Hugh Quarshie, and when he was in it, Tom Chambers as Sam. I will confess that despite Richard Briers being on the show for the Christmas episode, that particular episode was a departure from the usual thing we come to expect from Holby City despite a nice twist on It's A Wonderful Life. The scripts are good, and the story lines are quite intriguing, if perhaps predictable at times. Overall, quite arresting stuff. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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