Life in the fast
Friday October 6,
If ever there were a
televisual equivalent of crack cocaine, it's Holby City (BBC1).
While the experience may not be particularly pleasant, it's addictive
and leaves you feeling as if you've just been run over by a van. Which
is precisely what happened to half a dozen characters in the first few
moments of the new series, as a convenient pile-up outside the
hospital gates got the corpse count off to a flying start.
The next hour flashed by as if time itself had been telescoped.
Holby City is played at such furious pace - there's a crash team or a
"bleed" every 90 seconds or so - that one imagines the actors and
production crew collapsing in a sweating heap at the end of the
episode. The benefit to the audience of this frenetic approach is that
there's never a dull moment; lust, hatred, pity and horror pile one up
on the other. It makes Titus Andronicus look like The Good Life.
Lust inched ahead in the first half thanks largely to the new hunk
on the block, cocky registrar Alex Adams (Jeremy Sheffield), who
managed to flirt with a colleague over a bleeding roadkill. He even
managed to deliver lines and look seductive in a surgical mask, always
a challenge to the medical drama heart-throb. Meanwhile we longed to
punch the screen every time silly, dippy Nina (Kelly Hunter) wittered
on about her chakras. Things looked up when we learned that she had a
dicky heart, but sadly she survived to witter another day.
More poignant was the tale of Alan and Greg (Peter Plycarpou and
Gary Sefton), who had been innocently driving along in a van when
implacable Fate caught up with them. As they took it in turns to
collapse or go into spasm, we learned that Alan and Greg shared more
than just a van; yes, they were lovers - which was news to Alan's
wife. This triangle proved to be anything but eternal, as an aneurysm
took Alan to his reward, leaving Greg and Mrs Alan sobbing over his
remains. Astonishingly, this pulpy storyline contrived to be genuinely
affecting, and to express something convincing about the fragility of
life and the value of love - which, let's face it, is not what you
expect from a BBC1 medical drama.