Well, it was never going to be easy viewing – but how we’ll ever get over the last episode of Holby City is anyone’s guess!
All eyes were on hospital titan Jac Naylor following Elliot’s failed surgery, and when Jac inevitably suffered a stroke, her heartbroken colleagues were forced to comply with her wishes not to intervene – resulting in Jac being pronounced brain dead.
Some will argue that killing off the show’s most popular character was a callous decision, while others will praise bosses for having the bravery to do so. After all, top heart surgeon Jac died while continuing to save others through organ donation.
However, what does Jac’s real-life alter ego, Rosie Marcel, think? The actress – who has not held back in recent interviews regarding the BBC’s decision to cancel Holby – joins Inside Soap for the final time to reflect on Jac’s tragic end…
Hello, Rosie. What was your reaction when you learned that Jac would die?
Honestly, I was mortified. I returned to the show after a break knowing that Jac was going to have a brain tumour, with the intention for her to be cured. Then, we found out that Holby was ending – and when I sat down with the bosses to ask what we were going to do, and suggested going to Casualty for a bit, they went deathly silent. I said, “You’re not going to kill Jac, are you?” They told me yes, and I burst into tears.
What happened next?
I won’t lie, I fought against it. And the more I fought, the more exhausted I became. In the end, we talked it through properly and I realised that it was the right thing to do. I accepted it begrudgingly, and I wanted to make it the best it could possibly be – but it was a big internal battle for me. There will always be a part of me that feels that it was just so wrong to kill Jac.
That must have been tough. You’ve played her for 17 years…
Yes, and she’s such an important character who meant so much to so many people. She should have lived, but I understand why it was done and the reasons behind it. I think my main thing about the fight to keep Jac alive was that I didn’t want to not be able to play her again. She’s been with me for so long – it’s the death of my friend.
We know Holby viewers will be in bits after watching the episode, just as Inside Soap was when we came to interview Rosie the morning after watching a preview. We could barely get our words out – and at times, neither could Rosie. The star is immensely passionate about Jac and the show, and admits pushing bosses to their limits!
You’ve always said that you wanted Luke Roberts (aka Jac’s true love Joseph Byrne) back for her exit – and it happened!
That was my idea! I had to fight for Jac’s heart to go to Joseph as the person who transplants it. But then I had it pointed out to me that he became a GP, but I was so insistent. I think I drove the bosses a bit mad over the past few months being terribly demanding, but all for the right reasons. I said, ‘Please God include Luke in this story, as the book must be closed on Jac and Joseph once and for all’. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.
Did you manage to have some laughs while filming those sad final scenes?
Well, most of the time in the last two episodes it wasn’t me – it was my prosthetic head! But there were laughs; I was there for the rehearsals and they [Rosie’s co-stars] did some awfully funny things. Alex [Walkinshaw, who plays Fletch] sent me a hilarious video of him walking my body underneath a sheet towards the light in the basement, while playing ‘Ding dong the witch is dead’ – so everybody had some fun, and it kept everybody going. It wasn’t insulting, it was hilarious.
Who was the first up on the dance floor at the Holby leaving do?
Well, a screening was organised for the last two episodes with a party afterwards, but I couldn’t go. I would have played Jac for the rest of my life – and I couldn’t bring myself to celebrate the end of not only my best friend, but a show that is my family. I don’t want to cry for two hours and go, ‘Let’s all drink champagne’! That’s not who I am. I know a lot of people did go and I applaud that, but I’m at a point where I need it to end.
Finally, what does the future hold for you?
I’d love to do something completely different to Jac, but I’ve played the same character for such a long time that it’s going to take some imagination to see me as anything else. I don’t expect to work instantly, but I hope my performances in the last few episodes of Holby open minds to what else I could do. I’m here, I’m happy to be a housewife and I love being a mum. It’s a very noble job that doesn’t leave you with a lot of time, so I’m happy to do anything right now. I also think taking the break is the right thing to do.
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