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Holby City goes into High Definition

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Myar Craig-Brown Myar Craig-Brown | 10:14 UK time, Tuesday, 19 October 2010

I've worked on Holby City off and on since series four - a whole nine series ago. I came in as a script editor, moving across from the daytime soap Doctors.

I thought all my Christmases had come at once, working on a show with such a stellar cast: the wonderful Hugh Quarshie and the gorgeous Tina Hobley to name just two.

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I did a couple of series of Holby, getting promoted to story editor. As story editor your job is to create and write all the regular character stories along with the lead writer. It's an amazing job - if you love being at the heart of the show, creating stories, characters and letting your imagination run wild, this is where it's at.

I then left to work on another medical BBC show, Born And Bred. Having worked on three medical shows, I'm half-convinced I've got a PhD or could at least diagnose a Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG).

On returning from a couple of years' travelling, I heard they were looking for a story editor on Holby. I applied and here I am five years later, totally honoured and privileged to now be the acting series producer.

A series producer manages the show. You work alongside the line producer, managing the schedules and budgets, and with the consultant producer creating and shaping the regular characters' stories.

You oversee the process from attending the story conferences, where it all begins, right the way through production to signing of the show from a legal point of view.

Some of the things to be aware of are suicide, drug abuse - we have to be really careful we're not showing anything too distressing before eight o'clock or that there's anything people could copy, like drug use.

One of the key components of the job is just loving the show. And I do. Every time I read a script or watch an episode, I have to pinch myself to think I'm part of this all. The characters become part of your life.

Guy Henry as new Holby City doctor Henrik Hanssen

I totally cried when Jac and Joseph were locked away with a killer virus on the loose and Jac finally told Joseph she loved him. Or when Elliot held Gina in his arms as she died... amazing drama.

As I've only really been series producer since we started to go to HD, I can't say my role has massively changed. I've been in my current role for five months. I do know we've had to do a lot of work on the sets to get them HD ready - every chip, hole and imperfection was totally naked.

So that was a big undertaking for our design team. The look of the show is going to be much more crisp - I guess that's the biggest change our viewers will notice.

I know that EastEnders burnt down the Vic as its launch into HD. We didn't have a big explosive storyline, if you'll pardon the pun, but what we do have is the arrival of one of our new leads, Henrik Hanssen, played by the fantastic Guy Henry.

However, Hanssen's arrival is pretty explosive in its own way. He ruffles a few Connie Beachamp-shaped feathers. There's going to be ructions at Holby City - that's all I'm going to say.

So as well as getting our sets HD-ready with regards to make-up, costume and prosthetics, I know we spent a long time choosing the right red for our HD-ready blood. That was very important to get right, because don't you just love our blood and prosthetics?

Myar Craig-Brown is acting series producer on Holby City.

Holby City moves in HD on Tuesday, 19 October at 8pm on BBC One and BBC HD.


  • Comment number 1.

    What will be on on BBC One HD launch night other then Eastenders?

  • Comment number 2.

    Not full HD just 1440x1080 and legacy stereo sound only. It's about time the BBC dropped trying to sell this as HD.

  • Comment number 3.

    This new guy doesn't happen to be the brother of the fated sister who failed to wield the heavy axe of cuts, does he? Will the CEO pull him onside with his revolutionary 'I voted labour once' up the workers socialistic cheese, or is he fated to be the latest all new nasty bad man. Now that Spence is done I guess you're due yet another and Connie must be due a bit of a hormonal meltdown. That's what usually happens to the women once they get promoted.

    Not that I'm saying its all become a tad predictable or anything... Ooo and well doen to the black widow, does Patsy get a gold star now? Nobody saw that one coming *cough*

  • Comment number 4.

    Hi lightoftruth (#1) - EastEnders won't be moving into HD until later in the year. We've just published a post from Danielle Nagler, the head of BBC HD, where she outlines the details for the launch of BBC One HD. Hopefully this'll be able to answer some of your questions.



    Assistant Content Producer, BBC TV blog

  • Comment number 5.

    I must say in the first instance that I am in love with Connie Beauchamp and any move to humiliate her or relegate her to the scrapheap will cause me much pain and grief. However, I have a feeling that she is more than a match for the new Nosferatu, Hanssen. No, really, I watch every episode of Holby City and regret the exit of any established character - such as Sister Williams et al. I think the relationship between Penny and Ollie is brilliant but I can't really get my head round Mark being made CEO. Like Connie said "a nurse in a cheap suit"!!

  • Comment number 6.

    Not having a TV that is HD (and therefore not understanding what all the HD jargon means), I was surprised and dismayed to turn on this episode of Holby City tonight (Oct 26th) and find a rather annoying black line running through the top and bottom of the screen, that had never been there before! The tops of the cast's heads are now missing at times. Whilst I enjoyed the new format that started last week, what is this all about? I don't see this with any other programmes apart from films occasionally. I wish the BBC, to which I pay the full licensing fee would try to remember that we don't all have flat screen/HD ready TV screens yet!

  • Comment number 7.

    Of edwardkettle's comment of 22 Oct, and Mark Williams, the "nurse in a cheap suit", please sir, campaign for us to be paid more money, we can then afford the more expensive tailoring! His character may not be that convincing as CEO but what a difference it would make to have experienced, capable, well qualified nurses to manage our hospitals, rather than mere "suits" with no healthcare background, knowledge or experience to run them.

    To the BBC; I congratulate Holby on moving ahead of the times and appointing a nurse as CEO, it is only a pity that it has still yet to realise that most hospital consultants/doctors do not go round referring to nurses as 'Nurse Ratchett' etc whilst ordering them around as if we were still in the Florence Nightingale era! but are on first name times and certainly do not have the authority to sack nurses left right and centre!

  • Comment number 8.

    Er, well said "craftymumma" about the CEO being experienced in nursing. I did not mean to denigrate such a role but somehow Mark Williams (Robert Powell) doesn't seem 100percent credible moving directly from his shop floor, as it were, to a position theoretically above his former superiors, i.e. consultants et al. Perhaps such promotions should be at a different hospital?

    Anyway, my money's on Connie in any situation and as a bit of a gripe (jealousy) what is she/was she doing with that creepy Irish doc??

  • Comment number 9.

    Can anyone help. What has happened to Freida. I feel as if I missed an episode and that she has vanished. Will she be back?

  • Comment number 10.

    The introduction of the Frieda Petrenko is brilliant! What a character. Can't wait to see how she measures up the Hanssen's acerbic comments when they eventually meet. I bet she comes off best!
    Also Hannsen's character reminds me very much of Anton Meyer. Can you imagine bringing Meyer back from Michigan, to somehow play alongside Hannsen with Meyer saying "Walk with me." Now that would be something.

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi - Just watched the latest episode of Holby (14.12.10) - could you please let me know who was singing the Joni Mitchell song at the end of the program? Thanks everso. Another good episode as always.....

  • Comment number 12.

    I watch HC fairly regularly and I am generally amazed at the accuracy with which medical conditions are portrayed. Last night however, there was a fairly big error that I need to point out. One cannot have normal vision in ARMD by moving the head around and bringing the image into a peripheral, normal portion of the retina. The presence of a Charles Bonnet syndrome would imply a fairly significant drop in vision which would in turn imply damage to a large area of the central retina, enough to drop the vision to level not better than the first line on the chart. I hope you dont feel offended by me pointing this out.

  • Comment number 13.

    I know this is an odd one, but holby city on 28th dec with character connie beecham. Where did you get the handbag from for her, its beautiful and I want one!!!
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 14.

    Hello Ashley Rawling #11 above - about the music - there's a credit to Sarah McLachlan for the song River on the 14 December episode page here:


    Hope that helps.

    Fiona, TV blog editor

  • Comment number 15.

    Hi, maybe silly to mention but every time the doctors and nurses have a coffee it is obvious the cups are empty. Maybe they can fill them with water to make it more believable for the viewers.

  • Comment number 16.

    Call me weird, but I really like Henrik Hassen; I *like* the dry sense of humour & acid remarks. *g* That's why my heart sank when I read there was talk of him "mentoring a younger female doctor" & "there might be a hint of unrequited love to come." Because I'd *love* it if they'd do something more *left-field* with the character - eg, *why* does it have to be a younger woman? It would be more original/outrageous if it was a "slightly older female"/"female of similar/same age"! Oh no, I forgot: no females over the age of 40 are *allowed* in Holby City unless they're patients/extras - & unrequited love? Nooo!

    I read an interview with Guy Henry in which he said that much about Hanssen's b/g hadn't yet been decided, & I *loved* it when he said that it had "been discussed that when he was at medical school he was with somebody for a while & it didn’t work out, & he hasn’t bothered since. But he also might be gay or bi-sexual - I don’t think anyone knows yet..." I'd give the show a *hell* of a lot of kudos if they actually went with that & pushed the envelope a bit - mentoring a younger male doctor & a bit of unrequited love, say - but I don't suppose the BBC would go with that for a pre-watershed TV show... :¬}

  • Comment number 17.

    I just read Yeltz Lou's comments and I have to agree! Hanssen is a wonderfully different character, and deserves a different story line other than the tired, old "unrequited love with a younger woman". Why not take him in a different direction?

    I think Guy Henry is a wonderful actor, and with all his stage training and experience, can express himself with just the arch of an eyebrow. I love his wry sense of humor. I do think your writers know they have a find on their hands because the writing for him is marvelous.

    Now, why don't you give Yeltz Lou's ideas a go and bring in a mature gay relationship. Perhaps with someone older than he, or around the same age. But, why go down the same road everyone has trod before...shake things up.

  • Comment number 18.

    Holby City is morally vile. Its purpose is to sabotage the personally and socially cohesive values of sympathy and compassion under the guise of drama so that with the inevitable loss of human dignity, moral, and political, disempowerment, and professional and public service ethic of 'care' can be more easily, although just as economically ignored.

    Maybe too severe with HB? well, an episode on ward cleanliness might settle things.

    Watched in this way then disquieting lines like "...I get my hands dirty treating patients..." and the scene of a quasi doctor shouting at a patient ,will fall into their proper places. If 'it's reality" is pleaded then the rest of HB would have to reflect the reality of caring interactions to be credible; and since it doesn't , then HB can't be an old fashioned hospital drama but a new genre of the moral macabre set in a hospital.

    And where there is horror, all the more with HD blood.

    No shortage of medics either, to frighten the dead back into life if they did some of their lurking in the morgue.

  • Comment number 19.

    Could you please tell me the name and artist of the music that was used in tonights episode, it was beautiful, thankyou

  • Comment number 20.

    whats happened to all the great characters in holby city??...i miss connie and her spats with all the other consultants..i miss joseph looking tortured ..theres no great characters..only elliot and jac left worth watching

  • Comment number 21.

    Episode `Clash Of the Titans`. Such a shame that one of my favourite characters `Ric` will be axed. We`ve already lost Joesph & Connie, now Ric - I hope that Elliot will be staying. Frieda has become one of my favourites now, a great addition to Holby. On a different note, please tell me where I can get a dress like Jac`s it`s beautiful & I want one like it! Please help.


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