As Holby City's Ric Griffin undergoes risky surgery this week, actress Patricia Potter talks about reprising her role as deceased medic Diane Lloyd...
To mark it’s 20th anniversary this year, medical drama Holby City has been welcoming back many familiar faces from the past. And as show veteran Ric Griffin (Hugh Quarshie) undergoes a risky procedure this week to cure his brain tumour, he’s reunited with loved-ones he’s lost.
Consultant Ric’s desire to always put his job first has cost him dearly, particularly when it comes to his relationships. Tragedy struck when his eldest son Leo died of a drug overdose and, in 2007, his former flame and colleague, Diane Lloyd, took her own life by driving her car into a moving train.
As Ric is operated on by neurosurgeon Max McGerry (Jo Martin), there are fears he might not survive. While under the anaesthetic, Ric finds himself in ‘paradise’ where, in a series of dream sequences, he’s reunited with Leo (Daon Broni) and Diane, with actress Patricia Potter returning after a 12-year absence to reprise her role as the ill-fated medic.
Here, Holby City legend Patricia Potter, 44, reveals more about coming back from the dead…
What was it like returning to Holby City and to the role of Diane again?
"It was absolutely blissful. My life has changed beyond recognition since I was last at Holby and playing Diane, so I was undeniably nervous about it. But I felt so welcome, so it was like I’d never been away. Hugh is a very dear friend anyway, so to have the chance to work with him again was fantastic."
The scenes involving Diane and Ric are filmed like a fantasy sequence, which is quite different for Holby…
"I know! It was quite a challenge for the writers to find a way to bring Diane back without it being a cliché. When I first read the script I thought: ‘Oh heck!’ But I think people will suspend their disbelief enough and fans will buy into it."
As Ric journeys through his subconscious, he witnesses first-hand how great things are when he’s not around to mess them up!
"That’s right. Ric feels responsible for what happened to Diane and Leo and he’s grappling with the weight of the guilt he carries with him. Back then, Diane and Ric loved each other deeply but different pressures stopped them being together. Then, in her darkest hour, Ric couldn't help her."
Back in the real world, Ric takes a dramatic turn for the worse, and Max and Ric’s long-standing friend and colleague Serena Campbell (Catherine Russell) battle to save him. Will Ric live – or die?
"Now faced with his own mortality, Ric realises there are relationships he should have nurtured in a different way and that he can’t mess up again. Leo and Diane guide him through his ultimate decision of whether to give up – or fight for his life!"
Were you sad that Diane’s exit in 2007 was so ‘final’ and it looked like there would never be a way for you to come back?
"Diane was a well-loved character; she was flawed but she was an everywoman and people could relate to her. I think this episode honours the character and gives her a peaceful resolution. We can draw a line under her now with a nicer memory rather than ending on such a violent and tragic death. When we were filming the last scene, I had a little weep with Hugh, because it really felt like a ‘goodbye’ from Diane that we hadn’t had the opportunity to do before."
Why do you think Holby’s been such a success for the past 20 years?
"I think it’s down to good writing and the combination of a weekly tale with the regular, on-going character relationships. There’s something hugely comforting about the familiarity of characters, like Ric, and having them in your home every week. They become like a good friend. And, from an actor’s point of view, it's such a happy place to work. Holby was a huge part of my life. I met my husband there, I met great friends and it changed my life both professionally and personally. To go back was a big deal for me – and I loved every second of it!"
Holby City continues at 8pm on BBC1.
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