Holby City spoilers.
Holby City Bob Barrett has spoken out about Sacha Levy's shocking new romance with Jodie Rodgers.
The BBC medical drama returned to screens tonight (November 10) after a three-month break, with a special episode primarily focusing on coronavirus. The scenes saw the team attempt to navigate their way through a rapidly-changing world, but also explored the fallout of Essie's tragic death and Sacha's subsequent grief as a result.
As we'd previously revealed, fans were met with a very different Sacha – whose angry, apathetic and distant attitude was a far cry from his compassionate, caring former self. And the shocks very didn't end there, either.
The closing moments of Tuesday's special edition saw Sacha sleep with vulnerable patient Jodie (Sian Reese-Williams) who had become homeless following a break-up with her boyfriend.
Tonight's shock twist kicks off a huge, new story for Sacha as he embarks on a full-blown relationship with Jodie over the coming months, despite having only recently lost Essie.
Speaking about his reaction to the story, Bob – who plays him – said to Digital Spy: "When the writers talked to me about it, they said they wanted the reaction to Essie's death to be extreme.
"They felt it would be extreme – not just because he's lost the love of his life but because of the manner in which she died in that last episode."
" They told me everything about it so I did a lot of research and found that there is something called complicated grief disorder – where you totally lose your way and become the opposite of what you normally are.
"All the things Sacha would usually do – all the empathy, all the compassion he shows for people are like kryptonite to him. He cannot escape the grief he has for her. He is completely locked in and he can't find a way out – it's like being in a tunnel or a maze where you can't find your way out."
"There are future episodes where he says, 'Who am I? I don't know who I am'. This, coupled with the fact that he has a history of mental illness – that plays into it as well. He's stuck and he's not really in control of how he is behaving, which, for Sacha, is a huge thing. Normally, whatever happens, he can find empathy and compassion, but he just can't here."
Bob went on to explain that he believed Essie's death needed a strong, long-term aftermath and that all the shades of Sacha's grief will be explored in time.
"Essie was a huge character and her death deserved this kind of storyline", he said. "The outpouring to her death on social media was so huge and it was great for me – I love her and she deserves all that.
"The story deserves to have a strong aftermath, as opposed to Sacha being sad for two episodes and then moving on. It feels psychologically right though and it makes emotional sense.
"The good thing is that you see the other side here. We will see Sacha take himself off in future episodes and break down – you will see what's going on underneath.
"Outwardly though, his behaviour towards everyone else is very tough to watch. Hopefully people will understand why he is behaving so appalling. It's very, very unlike Sacha. He knows it's wrong but he can't find a way out of it."
Describing Sacha's feelings towards Jodie, Bob commented: "Sacha and Jodie are both damaged.
"For Sacha, the fact that Jodie doesn't know Essie, or the hospital, is a big thing. Jodie offers something completely different – she looks like a clean slate. It's still appalling, though. He is falling from one disastrous situation to another."
Bob also warned that there are many more dark turns to come in this story, with one particularly big twist throwing a huge spanner in the works.
"Sacha does slowly comes out of this spiral, but then other things complicate it", he explained."It's going to be a while before you see Sacha back to normal as this has really shaken him up.
"He will come back and be the Sacha of old, but on the show, you want to shake things up and develop. He isn't the same man he was before the depression and this will be the same. At Holby, they love a story that develops and involves other characters – and this one does that.
"It gets very, very dark. I know the bosses are very happy with the storyline though as it throws up a lot of interesting things that you haven't seen before. It definitely gets very dark and a lot is going to come back to bite Sacha. You can't behave the way he behaves and not have any psychological repercussions or implications."
Hinting that Jac could ultimately be the person to save Sacha from himself, Bob teased: "Sacha and Jac have an amazing friendship – they can be awful to each other and still ride through it. No matter how bad it is, she will take it and still come back for more. It's a rollercoaster.
"If anyone is going to get through to him, it's Jac. But you will see them behaving in a way to each other that you haven't seen before. Their friendship is just golden."
Jac isn't the only person attempting to talk some sense into Sacha, however, as Holby will also be reintroducing his daughter Beka – played by Bob's real-life daughter, Francesca Barrett.
"She comes back", Bob said gleefully. "But I'm not sure if that's meant to be a surprise! She does come back and it's amazing. I'm just such a proud dad.
"Obviously we don't have to socially distance and having her back has just been wonderful. They really do write for her when she comes back, too – she's 19 now, she's not a child.
"They give her a lot of stuff to do and she's very instrumental in this story. She's a fantastic character and she's a real catalyst with this. She is exactly the right person needed in the story. It's going to be fantastic."
Holby City continues on Tuesday, November 17 at 7.50pm on BBC One.
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