Gaskell and Essie in Holby City
(Picture: BBC)

Essies only been back at Holby City for five minutes, and already shes found herself having to grapple with a terrible moral dilemma. Her friend Julies son, Josh, was deteriorating quickly and was going to end up even more severely disabled within a year. Professor Gaskell had an idea for treatment that just might reverse Joshs condition – but it was unethical, illegal and dangerous.

It involved using stem cells, and weve already heard that Julie had some frozen embryos after an earlier round of IVF. Approval for using them would take about five years, Gaskell said, but he still had that spark of I just might be on the verge of something groundbreaking in his eyes. When Julie heard about the idea, she wanted to go ahead straight away. Essie begged Gaskell to bend the rules for compassionate reasons – and he agreed.

It was Roxanna who cautioned Essie to be careful. The Professor is capable of some amazing things – and terrible things, she said. Just because somethings possible doesnt make it right.

(Picture: BBC)

So Essie did a bit of research, and had a hug from Sacha and some wise advice from Hanssen, and then she went to tell the Professor that he was playing God and she couldnt go along with it. Essie then had the difficult task of telling Julie and Josh, who heartbreakingly said that shed taken away his hope.

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Everyone thought that the whole idea was scrapped, and the paperwork giving permission to use Julies embryos had been destroyed. But then we saw the Professor tinkering about with the frozen embryos and a pipette. It takes more than Essie to put the brakes on God!

Will Roxanna be more successful in putting a stop to Dr Doom? She told Hanssen that she was worried about their mutual old friend, and that she needed to gather information by visiting all the hospitals around the world where Gaskell has left his own special trail of destruction.

One person who was still super-keen to work with the Prof was Meena. Roxanna even asked her to keep an eye on Gaskell for her. But the Prof had other ideas, as Meena has previously questioned his trial and he doesnt tolerate people who arent singing the company song. So Meena was banished to AAU, where her first task was to sort out a man with disgusting wellies concealing an impaled foot. To make a bad day even worse, ex-boyfriend Xavier was giving Donna Jackson far too much attention as far as Meena was concerned. She was so upset that she had to ring her dad just to hear a friendly voice, while pretending to him that she was having a great day and her Holby career was going spectacularly well.

(Picture: BBC)

It really does seem that theres a spark between Zav and Donna, too. She was cross with him because her Botox business isnt going as well as shed hoped. Shes a great nurse, but not so good at the business side of things and was being messed around by her clients. Zav was also sleeping with one of them (Shelley from Occupational Therapy – trout pout courtesy of Donna).

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AAU patient o the week was Ursula Stork (played by the wonderful Angela Bruce), who had been Donnas head teacher back in the days when she called herself DeeDee and wanted to be in the Spice Girls (I was gutted they didnt need a Gobby Spice). Ms Stork had been the fierce, inspirational teacher whod made Donna want to be a nurse in the first place, but in a really lovely scene she admitted that as she got older she didnt know who she was any more, or who she would be if she stopped teaching. Donna reminded her that there was life outside of work and other roads she could travel. Ms Stork agreed, and pointed out that the same might be true for Donna and a certain handsome young doctor.

(Picture: BBC)

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So Donna invited Zav to Albies for a drink, where it soon became clear that he was still thinking about business rather than pleasure. Rather confusingly hes given her the keys to Nickys bedroom to use as a Botox studio. Im not sure where Nicky is supposed be while this is happening, but Donna seemed pleased anyway. And there was definitely a lot of eye contact and gaze-holding going on so Im not ruling out a romance.

The last person we saw in the episode was Sacha. He was talking to Hanssen about how the world needed more people who were caring and kind, like Essie, and that Holby needed Hanssens famed moral compass. Theres a storm coming, said Sacha. Does he mean because of Gaskell and his maverick project, or was he talking about something more personal?


Sue Haasler is the author of the official Holby City book, which you can read about here. She also writes novels and theres more about her latest here.

MORE: Holby City spoilers: Essies dilemma, Donnas business worries and more

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