Robert Powell reveals why Mark takes on Vanessa

Robert Powell reveals why Mark takes on Vanessa
Robert Powell reveals why Mark takes on Vanessa (Image credit: BBC)

Robert Powell reveals what happens when Mark takes on Vanessa in Holby City... With Judith and Daisha leaving Holby, is it fair to say that Mark's feeling pretty miserable at the moment? "Yes. There's not much in his life to celebrate. But most of the time, I think Mark is a glass half-full kind of man, rather than a glass half-empty kind of man. But no, there's not much to celebrate, apart from his grandchild on the way, which is important. But then anything to do with his daughter Chrissie is very important to him." It's quite surprising to see that he's somehow past caring about what's going on in the world. Has that got anything to do with the arrival of Vanessa? "That would have helped. He sees Vanessa as dishonest. She's not doing the job for the good of the hospital, but for own agenda. So, he reaches a point where he thinks it's either her or him." She's the antithesis of him, isn't she? While she's all about figures and quotas, he's more about honesty, integrity and the patients. "That's what he tries, yes. He's a people person. His advantage is that he can handle everyone equally, whether it's the patients, staff or consultants. They get same treatment. He's not at all deferential." This week, Mark confronts Vanessa about Maria, who has trouble with her back. What happens? "He discovers the reason Maria's back has gone is because she did something she wasn't supposed to do. It was a porter's job lifting heavy files, and she'd been instructed to do that by Vanessa. Technically, there's a strong possibility that she can get compensation." Do you think he sees this as a way of getting back at Vanessa? "No, absolutely not! He sees it as justice really. Maria is one of his staff, and therefore she's to be looked after and taken care of. And as she's now in distress he sees a way of getting at least some compensation for her. It gives him something to care about." Does he take pleasure in having something on Vanessa? "He doesn't like her at all. She stands for everything that he thinks is wrong with management." When Mark decides to pursue the claim for Maria, does she comply with that? "She's backs off because she gets threatened. Vanessa threatens her obliquely with dismissal or just not being able to improve her career if she follows up a compensation claim. In other words, she gets threatened by management, which is like a red rag to a bull, to put it mildly. It's the last straw." What about Judith? Is this the last we see her? That's quite a sad ending for them... "Yes. I think it was friendship that had something else, but there was no huge passion. She was someone who was vulnerable and who became a friend and they fell into a relationship. Equally, they didn't have much of a struggle falling out of it." Would you like to see Mark have some romance? "It would be nice, but would have to have strong dynamic, or not at all straightforward. It would be fun. There's no one there for him at the minute though." So, are you enjoying being in the show? "I wouldn't be doing it if I didn’t enjoy it. I'm long past doing things I don't want to do. I love doing the show, I must admit. I find it terrific. I look forward to coming into work." Did you think you'd be there so long? "No! No way. When I was first invited, the idea of doing a show for a year terrified me, but I'm still here five years later and I love it hugely. They've let the character develop and metamorphose from what he started out as to what he is now. He's been through stuff." Is it strange not to be working with Tina Hobley, who plays Mark's daughter Chrissie, now she's on maternity leave? "No, not really. She was on maternity two years ago, so I'm used to it. It goes round in circles. When she's there we do have relationship. Mark is always there to pick up the pieces, which is what he does, except now he's picking up other people's pieces." So what does the future hold for the staff of Holby City? "I'm not sure if I'm allowed to tell you. There is a big sea change coming which is what we're filming now so there are changes. But one thing's for sure, he's not losing his job!"

Patrick McLennan

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.