After 23 years on our screens it’s almost time to say a final goodbye to Holby City, and the popular medical drama isn’t going out quietly.
*Warning: Contains Holby City Spoilers for the episode that aired on Tuesday 22 March 2022 at 7.55pm on BBC1*
There were big emotional punches in the penultimate episode when Jac Naylor (Rosie Marcel) went under the knife. During the intense outing, viewers watched with bated breath as heart surgeon Elliot Hope (Paul Bradley), brain surgeon Max McGerry (Jo Martin) and senior nurse Madge Britton (Clare Burt) all battled to keep Jac alive.
The original aim of the experimental operation was to starve Jac’s brain of oxygen, lower her body temperature, and attempt to remove her brain tumour.
During this second-to-last episode, however, Elliot explained that Jac’s recent scan revealed worrying complications. Yet, with Jac determined to go ahead, he hastily came up with a new plan and moved her operation forward…
Meanwhile, Jac’s absolute best friend in the world, Sacha Levy, remained opposed to her surgery. He had a heart-to-heart with her outside the hospital, unaware that the risky operation had been brought forward by a day and would be happening imminently!
Jac in a bid to reassure anguished Sacha, decided to put him off the scent. She asked him to go to her flat and get her locket, as she wanted it with her.
Sacha, heartbroken but happy to help his dying friend, agreed immediately and teased her about having a nosey around her new flat. He even joked about finding the head of Jonny Maconie — Jac’s ex and father to her daughter, Emma — in her fridge!
At Jac’s, Sacha wanders around, getting a sense of her. He thumbs through her research papers takes in the view, and checks the fridge for Jonny’s head!
It’s then he notices that Jac has left her record player on and decides to play the last record she listened to, The Jam’s poignant English Rose.
As the music fills the apartment, Sacha finds Jac’s locket under a collection of photos of her nearest and dearest. It’s then that he happens upon Jac’s last will and testament along with a goodbye letter to Emma…
But what does the song mean?
What To Watch checked in with the Holby City team who revealed: “There is no strong specificity to the track, it was selected as a song that might likely be a record her dad had and played to Jac when younger.”
Jac was abandoned by her mother Paula Burrows (played by Julie Legrand) aged 12 and put into foster care. This was revealed when Paula was admitted to Holby with kidney damage. Jac underwent a kidney transplant to save Paula… who deserted her all over again after the surgery.
Jac reconnected with her younger half-sister Jasmine Burrows (Lucinda Dryzek) later in life, when they both worked together at Holby.
It emerged that while Jac was in care, Jasmine was sporadically raised by Paula, but was mainly left with her grandparents, including grandfather Henry Burrows.
Jasmine was killed in 2017, but recently made a ghostly reappearance. Little is known about Jac’s paternal roots. Significantly the locket Jac asks Sacha to retrieve belonged to Jasmine and contains pictures of her daughter, Emma…
While the record is playing, it suddenly dawns on Sacha that Jac isn’t confident in the surgical procedure, and that by sending him to her home she was saying goodbye…
Heartbroken, he calls Fletch and explains that Jac has given up and that they can’t let her die in surgery. Sacha begs Fletch (Alex Walkinshaw) to help stop Jac’s operation, but he reveals it’s too late, she’s already in theatre!
Meanwhile, Max, Elliot and Madge have discovered they’re unable to remove the tumour. Before this, Jac had asked Elliot to let her die on the table if they couldn’t extract it completely. Elliot, however, can’t bear to let her go…
When Jac comes round later she’s devastated to discover what’s happened and breaks down.
But Elliot isn’t giving up hope. He promises to find another way to save Jac… Can he discover a miracle cure in time?
Speaking about the last ever episode to What To Watch, Bob Barrett teases: “All I can say about the final storylines is that they will be emotional. Everyone — the writers, cast and crew — feel that it’s an incredible ending.”
He adds: “I was talking to Rosie the other day, and we were saying, when we became best friends in life, that’s when we became best friends in the show. So we’ve had the show relationship in real time. Same with Kaye [Wragg, who played Sacha’s lover Essie Di Lucca] and Guy [Henry, who stars as hospital CEO Henrik Hanssen].
“That’s very, very hard to replace, so it will be a shock after [Holby ends].”
“I know we all say it and joke about it, but Holby is a family, right across the cast, crew and production. Filming [the final episodes] has been like the seven stages of grief. Initially there was shock, then sadness, as we went on there was lots of gallows humour, then we cried, got upset, but also had a laugh. We really savoured our last times together before it finished.”
How will it all end? Find out when the final ever episode of Holby City airs next week.