Holby City spoilers follow.
Holby City has been off air for nearly two months now, after running out of regular episodes to screen due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But when is it due to return and what will happen when it does? Here is everything we know at the moment...
When did Holby City go off air and why?
Holby City has been off air since August 11, after running out of the stockpile of episodes filmed before the UK lockdown in March.
Earlier in the spring, BBC soaps Holby City, Casualty, EastEnders and Doctors were all forced to halt production because of the pandemic. ITV and Channel 4 soaps also had to suspend filming prior to the country going into total shutdown later in the month.
As Holby City films approximately four months in advance, this meant that they had a sound amount of editions to keep them on air until the summer. The show also took an extended hiatus from April through to early June to ensure an even spread of continuing dramas on the BBC over the summer.
This did the trick and took us well into August, with Holby eventually have to pause again on a tragic cliffhanger which saw Essie pass away on her wedding day, having been diagnosed with terminal cancer a few weeks prior.
When will Holby City be back?
Although there is no confirmed date on when Holby City will be returning to our screens, the good news is that the cast and crew are back filming – and have been since July.
On Monday, July 27, Holby bosses confirmed that they were back up and running in production and working on a very special episode to come back with (we'll discuss this in a minute).
Given that Holby usually films around four months in advance, this would suggest that the very earliest we could expect to see it back on is the tail end of November.
When Holby does return, episodes will run at a slightly shorter 40 minutes as opposed to 60 – in a similar move to EastEnders. However, let's not forget that the Holby City cast and crew have to adhere to the comprehensive safety protocols that have been introduced since the set reopened, meaning filming is likely to be taking longer than usual.
The good news, though, is that David Ames, who plays fan favourite Dom Copeland, recently hinted that the show was in the middle of filming their Christmas episodes. This would seemingly imply that Holby will be back on our scenes before 2021 arrives.
In the meantime, several members of the cast have been offering teasers of Holby's return over on Instagram, giving fans an insight into just how they are filming at a social distance in a hospital setting.
Holby City spoilers – what will happen when it returns?
There is plenty of drama in store upon Holby's much-anticipated return, but first up, we have the show's groundbreaking coronavirus special, which sees the pandemic explored through the team.
The episode involves CEO Max wrestling to "keep the hospital in control and her staff safe" as coronavirus takes hold. But as the task at hand proves to be bigger than anyone could have imagined, it begins to take its toll on Max and her Holby City staff.
It's not just the pandemic Max is fighting, as Ric Griffin will be coming up against her too, having previously lost all trust in her ability to take charge (after his ordeal, we're not entirely surprised).
BBC Studios' Head of Continuing Drama Kate Oates commented back in July, "It's with great pleasure that we open the doors at Elstree to welcome back the exceptional cast and crew of Holby City.
"We have some gripping stories to tell as we explore how the lives of our characters have been irrevocably changed since the start of the pandemic – and how our heroes battle against the odds, come what may."
In addition to this, fans will undoubtedly be intrigued to see what the future holds for a grief-stricken Sacha following Essie's death, while cunning Cameron's sinister behaviour will be gathering momentum now that he has started dating his friend Nicky.
Prior to the show's break, we also saw some cracks begin to show between Ange and Fletch and Louis was left crushed after his romance hopes with Nicky weren't reciprocated.
What about Casualty?
Casualty was slightly further behind Holby in returning to filming, meaning that it's possible there could be a slightly longer wait until it's back on screen.
Like Holby, Casualty also films up to four months in advance, allowing it to stay on air until the end of August. However, production in Cardiff, where Casualty is filmed, didn't resume until earlier in September, suggesting that fans could be waiting until early 2021 to see it again.
Casualty will also be returning with slightly shorter episodes and will be airing its own version of a coronavirus episode as well.
Holby and Casualty timelines – what will happen?
Fans of Holby and Casualty will know that the sister shows share the same universe, with organic drop-ins, references and crossovers historically reflecting that. In recent years, show bosses have really stepped this up a gear with increased and more complex character crossovers on a much more regular basis.
Therefore, if Holby returns to screens before Casualty it could mean that the episodes are no longer in sync with each other. This could spark questionable timeline issues when it comes to Casualty and raises questions about how the two shows will be able to reference each other again, without palpable plot holes exposing the gaps.
Given that this is an unprecedented situation, there's unlikely to be any word on how this will be resolved until the shows are back on air. There's also a very strong chance that bosses find a way to work around this to ensure that the timeline differences are never an obvious issue.
One way around this could be simply showing the coronavirus episodes in retrospect – which is likely – before doing a time jump, in the same way EastEnders and Hollyoaks have done. Another way could be ensuring that they both come back on at approximately the same time, even if it means delaying Holby's return slightly.
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