'Holby City' star Jemma Redgrave: 'I was proud to be a part of it'

Bernie Wolfe and Serena Campbell in 'Holby City'.
Bernie Wolfe and Serena Campbell in 'Holby City'. (Image credit: BBC)

A rooftop proposal, a car park rescue, and a showdown with Nicky McKendrick - it could only mean one thing. Bernie Wolfe was back in Holby!

In the latest episode of Holby City viewers were delighted to see Bernie - played by Jemma Redgrave - make a return to the hospital. But it soon became apparent the army medic was a shadow of her former self - and the reason why was clear…

Bernie had mixed emotions about being back in Holby. On one hand, the hospital is home to her happiest memories and where she met the love of her life, Serena Campbell (Catherine Russell). On the other, it’s where her son Cameron Dunn (Nic Jackman) committed multiple murders and died in front of her.

Speaking exclusively to us, Jemma reveals that returning to Holby City before the hospital doors close was a “no-brainer.” She goes on to praise the series, which she joined in 2018.

“I will miss all the wonderful people I worked with, and the series itself which punched way above its weight. Holby City told some difficult stories so delicately and, at its best, it was funny and heartbreaking by turn. It never patronised its audience and I was proud to be a part of it.”

Bernie and Serena in happier times.

The way they were... Bernie and Serena in happier times.  (Image credit: BBC)

Throughout her return to the show on Bernie bravely confronted her fears. A tender heart-to-heart with nurse Donna Jackson (Jaye Jacobs) saw the troubled medic realise not everyone blamed her for Cameron’s killer actions. The rescue of junior nurse Kylie Maddon (Amy Murphy) after an accident in the hospital car park saw Bernie spring into action, her life-saving instincts still intact.

But it was a phone call with Nicky McKendrick - the mother of Cameron’s daughter Juliet, Bernie’s granddaughter - that had the biggest impact on her. Bernie reached out in the hope of seeing Juliet. Nicky (Belinda Owusu), traumatised by her relationship with Cameron, unleashed her anguish and blamed Bernie for Cameron becoming a monster. The painful encounter brought home to Bernie that it’s time to move on and focus on what's important - namely, nurturing her relationship with Serena.

Jemma, who has starred in Bramwell, Frankie, Grantchester and Doctor Who, says: “I absolutely loved the character of Bernie Wolfe. I don’t know many other TV dramas that have put not one but two women over 50 at the centre of the story. Not only that but to give them a passionately romantic storyline. We are mostly invisible, and if visible, we are either professional or domestic, not usually allowed to be passionate. Bernie is a complex character and I was lucky to play her.”

Speaking about her Holby co-star she adds: “Catherine is a brilliant actor. There have been so many great things about working with her, but I think if you can really make each other laugh, which we did, you’re on to a winner.

“We work in very different ways as actors but it turned out that we complimented each other and that was very much in our favour. The big unknown when you start working with someone is chemistry - you can’t make that happen. For some reason we had it and then everything just flowed.”

The look of love. Serena and Bernie only have eyes for each other.

The look of love. Serena and Bernie only have eyes for each other. (Image credit: BBC)

In the final chapter of their love story Bernie heads to the rooftop to gather her thoughts. When Serena joins her Bernie opens up about her entwined love of the hospital and her other half…

Although the couple have already agreed to get married - for mainly practical reasons such as pensions and buying a house! - Bernie realises that it’s time for romance to be taken off the back burner. Reigniting the spark in their relationship, she gets down on one knee and proposes to Serena, who doesn’t hesitate to say yes!

“After all the heartbreak for Bernie of the storyline with her son, Holby is a very difficult place for her to be,” reflects Jemma, 57. “But of course it’s the place where she met the love of her life. So, it’s not only romantic but healing to find her way back to what the building really means for her and to find some peace and a home with the woman she loves.”

This episode of Holby City aired on BBC1 on Tuesday 08 February 2022 and is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

Elaine Reilly
Writer for TV Times, What’s On TV, TV & Satellite Week and What To Watch

With twenty years of experience as an entertainment journalist, Elaine writes for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and www.whattowatch.com covering a variety of programs from gardening and wildlife to documentaries and drama.


As well as active involvement in the WTW family’s social media accounts, she has been known to get chatty on the red carpet and wander into the odd podcast. 

After a day of previewing TV, writing about TV and interviewing TV stars, Elaine likes nothing than to relax… by watching TV.