In an exclusive chat, Holby City's Rosie Marcel and Patsy Kensit on why Jac Naylor operates on her arch-rival Faye Morton to honour the love of her life…
Every long-running drama needs a gripping love triangle or two and, over the past 20 years, Holby City has certainly had its fair share, one of the most notable being between Jac Naylor, Joseph Byrne and Faye Morton.
Medic Joseph (Luke Roberts) was madly in love with Jac (Rosie Marcel) but when the flame-haired surgeon cheated on him with his father, Lord Byrne, Joseph sought comfort in the arms of nurse Faye (Patsy Kensit).
Joseph and Faye married but, after suffering a mental breakdown, in 2010, Faye left Joseph and their baby son, Harry, and disappeared into the night. Shortly after, Joseph accepted a job as a GP up north and wanted Jac to join him. Jac chose her career at Holby over Joseph but, as he departed, she was left heartbroken.
To mark Holby’s 20th anniversary this year, in a few weeks’ time, feelings of love and hate reignite as Joseph and Faye return… and come face-to-face with Jac!
As TV Times meet Holby City stars Patsy Kensit, 51, and Rosie Marcel, 42, it’s clear the pair have remained firm friends. But, as they soon reveal, the on-screen rivalry between Faye and Jac is very much alive and well…
What was it like getting to work together – and with Luke – again on Holby City?
Rosie: “I’ve been asking both Patsy and Luke for years to come back and they were always busy, so when they agreed to return for Holby’s 20th anniversary, I was delighted. The Three Musketeers are back together again.”
Patsy: “I absolutely loved the four years I spent on Holby and the three of us have all stayed in touch, so I was really excited. But I thought: ‘I hope they don’t want me back just to kill me off!'”
Patsy, what brings Faye back to Holby?
Patsy: “We learn that, since we last saw Faye, she became an alcoholic, who’s now in recovery. But she’s seriously damaged her heart through all the heavy drinking and needs a transplant. Faye had initially wanted to go to nearby St James’s Hospital to avoid seeing Jac but, on this particular night, there’s a huge rainstorm, so the only option is to go to Holby.”
When they meet on the ward, it’s clear there’s still no love lost between Jac and Faye. Why is there such animosity between them?
Rosie: “There’s always been animosity because Jac was initially with Joseph, then they broke up and he got together with Faye. When Joseph and Faye got married and had their son, Harry, Jac was always very jealous of the fact it couldn’t be her. When she sees Faye again, Jac’s feisty spirit certainly comes tumbling out!”
Patsy: “In the past, Faye would often play the victim, and Jac can still see right through her. Things get quite bitchy between them in this episode but there’s a playfulness and a real strength and humour behind the drama. Rosie and I didn’t really get to ‘face off’ before I left last time, so these scenes were fun to film.”
Jac’s former love Joseph then turns up at the hospital. How does Jac feel about seeing him again?
Rosie: “Jac and Joseph parted on good terms and Jac always felt they’d eventually end up together. So it’s a massive shock when Joseph turns up and Jac realises he and Faye are still married. Seeing him again, Jac’s heart flips over and all those old feelings she had come flooding back and she doesn’t really handle the situation very well. But, then, what do you do when the love of your life returns – and he’s with someone else?”
Faye urgently needs a heart transplant and, as we all know, Jac IS the best heart surgeon at Holby. How are they both feeling about the operation?
Rosie: “Well, Jac doesn’t want to operate and Faye certainly doesn’t want her to, either. You could say it’s the one time they’ve actually been in agreement!”
Patsy: “Faye’s really conflicted. There’s a great line where Faye says: ‘I don’t want that woman anywhere near me with a scalpel!'”
Rosie: “Jac, however, is the best at what she does and Faye would be in the safest hands with her. But there could be a little slip of the knife at any point…”
Although she’s reluctant initially, how important is it that Jac is the one to save Faye’s life?
Rosie: “I think it’s very important for Joseph. That’s the main reason why Jac does it in the end – because Joseph asks her to. Jac would rather have got anybody else in the world to operate on Faye. But, because Joseph asks her personally, as a favour to him, she feels she has to. Faye now owes Jac for saving her life. Jac knows she can hold that over Faye for a very long time.”
The scenes between you all are very intense. Did you get to have much fun in between takes?
Patsy: “Oh goodness, yeah. On the fourth day of filming, we started to get a bit too relaxed and giggly. Back in the day, Rosie, Luke and I used to watch the film Tootsie [starring Dustin Hoffman] in our lunch breaks and quote all the jokes from it. We’ve always got on so well. I’ve told Luke that Joseph can never divorce Faye – it’s my most successful marriage!”
Holby City celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Why do you think the show has been so popular for so long?
Rosie: “We’ve always been consistent and as truthful as we can be to the NHS. We’ve always had great storylines and some amazingly talented actors over the years: Art Malik, Ade Edmondson and, of course, Patsy Kensit to name a few. The TV landscape is changing but we’ve held onto a really solid audience. Holby’s a good show and one I’m very proud to be a part of, with a dedicated team producing 52 hours of TV a year. So we’re always sad that we don’t get recognised when it comes to awards. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for some TV BAFTAs next year.”
Patsy, aside from Holby, what else have you been up to?
Patsy: “I took some time out of acting when my kids were younger because long-running dramas, in particular, can be so demanding. I remember when I played Sadie King on Emmerdale [from 2004-2006], driving up to Leeds at 3am, filming, sleeping in my car at lunchtime, then driving home again just to put my son to bed. Now that my eldest son, James, is 26, and my youngest, Lennon, is 20, I’ve decided to work again. I’m currently working on a film called The Pebble and The Boy but I’d love to do something like EastEnders. Would I ever record any more music? I’m 51 now, so no. Besides, there would probably be a major petition for me not to!”
Holby City continues Tuesdays at 8pm on BBC1.