Since running out of regular episodes for screening due to the coronavirus pandemic, Holby City has been off-air for almost two months now.
But when is the return due, and what happens when it happens? At the moment, here’s what we remember.
When did and why did Holby City go off the air?
Since August 11, after running out of the cache of episodes filmed prior to the UK lockdown in March, Holby City has been off-air.
Earlier in the spring, because of the pandemic, BBC soaps Holby City, Casualty, EastEnders and Doctors were all forced to halt production. Prior to the nation going into complete shutdown later in the month, ITV and Channel 4 soaps have had to suspend shooting.
As Holby City shoots about four months in advance, this meant that before the summer they had a sound amount of editions to keep them on air. From April through to early June, the show also took an extended hiatus to ensure that ongoing dramas on the BBC dispersed uniformly over the summer.
With Holby finally having to pause again on a horrific cliffhanger that saw Essie pass away on her wedding day, having been diagnosed with terminal cancer a few weeks ago, this did the trick and took us well into August.
When is Holby City coming back?
While there is no official date when Holby City will return to our screens, the good news is that shooting is back for the cast and crew, and has been since July.
Holby bosses announced on Monday, July 27, that they were back up and running in production and working to come back with a very special episode (we will discuss this in a minute).
Given that Holby typically shoots about four months in advance, this would mean that the tail end of November is the very earliest we might expect to see it back on.
When Holby returns, series, as compared to 60, will run at a significantly shorter 40 minutes, in a similar change to EastEnders. Let’s not forget, however, that the cast and crew of Holby City must stick to the rigorous safety procedures that have been implemented since the reopening of the set, which means shooting is likely to take longer than normal.
The good news, though, is that David Ames, who plays fan-favourite Dom Copeland, recently suggested that their Christmas episodes were in the midst of filming the program. This would seem to mean that before 2021 arrives, Holby will be back on our scene.
In the meantime, some cast members have been offering teasers on Instagram of Holby’s return, giving fans an insight into how they are filming in a hospital setting at a social distance.
What will happen when it returns? Holby City spoilers?
Upon Holby’s much-anticipated return, there is plenty of drama in store, but first, we have the show’s groundbreaking coronavirus special, which sees the pandemic explored by the team.
“As coronavirus takes hold, the episode includes CEO Max wrestling to” keep the hospital in control and her staff safe. But it starts to take its toll on Max and her Holby City staff as the job at hand proves to be greater than anyone could have expected.
It’s not just the pandemic that Max is battling, as Ric Griffin is going to come up against her too, having previously lost all faith in her ability to take control (we’re not entirely shocked after his ordeal).
Kate Oates, Head of Continuing Drama at BBC Studios, commented back in July, “It is with great joy that we open the doors at Elstree to welcome back the excellent Holby City cast and crew.”
“As we discuss how the lives of our protagonists have been changed irrevocably since the beginning of the pandemic, we have some gripping stories to share, and how our heroes struggle against the odds, come what may.”
Furthermore, fans will certainly be fascinated to see what the future holds for a grief-stricken Sacha after Essie’s passing, although the sinister actions of sly Cameron will gain traction now that he has begun dating his friend Nicky.
We also saw several cracks begin to emerge between Ange and Fletch before the show’s break and Louis was left crushed after Nicky’s romantic hopes were not reciprocated.
What about the Casualty
In returning to filming, Casualty was slightly further behind Holby, meaning that it’s likely there could be a slightly longer wait until it’s back on video.
Like Holby, Casualty also shoots up to four months in advance, leaving it until the end of August to remain on the air. Production in Cardiff, where Casualty is filmed, however, did not resume until earlier in September, indicating that fans should wait to see it again until early 2021.
With slightly shorter series, Casualty will also be returning and will also broadcast its own version of a coronavirus episode.
Timelines for Holby and Casualty — what will happen?
Holby and Casualty viewers will know that the sister shows share the same world, with that traditionally expressed by organic drop-ins, references and crossovers. In recent years, show bosses have really taken this up a notch on a much more frequent basis with increased and more nuanced character crossovers.
If Holby returns to screens before Casualty, it may also mean that the episodes are no longer coordinated with each other. When it comes to Casualty, this could spark questionable timeline problems and raise concerns about how the two shows will be able to relate to each other again without the differences being revealed by palpable plot holes.
Considering that this is an unusual situation, once the shows are back on the air, there is unlikely to be any word on how this will be resolved. There is also a very good possibility that managers will find a way to get around this to make sure the discrepancies in the timetable are never an apparent problem.
One way around this may be actually retrospectively displaying the coronavirus episodes, which is definitely, in the same way, EastEnders and Hollyoaks did before doing a time leap. Another way may be to ensure that they both return at around the same time, even though it means slightly delaying Holby’s return.