Alex Walkinshaw on how Holby City's happy-go-lucky director of nursing reacts to some very worrying news about his health…
Holby City in recent months has seen director of nursing, Adrian ‘Fletch’ Fletcher (Alex Walkinshaw) completely run off his feet trying to deal with the nursing shortage at the hospital but, this week, there’s some good news as it looks like the crisis is finally over.
Fletch, however, isn’t exactly jumping for joy. Instead, he’s become extremely worried about his health. And his world falls apart when test results confirm his worst fears…
Holby City star Alex Walkinshaw, who plays Fletch, tells us more…
Your character, Adrian ‘Fletch’ Fletcher, has been very stressed out in recent months. How’s he been coping with the nursing shortage at Holby?
“I don’t think Fletch is a natural for the role of director of nursing but part of his charm is that, first and foremost, he’s a nurse. So dealing with a lack of funds and not being able to provide adequate patient care has been stressful for him. Fletch takes everything to heart and thinks it’s his fault he can’t find a way out of this mess.”
With the nursing crisis finally over this week, Fletch turns his attentions to his health. What makes him think something might be seriously wrong?
“I think the fatigue, the stress and the anxiety he’s felt from the pressures of work have run parallel to some health concerns he’s been having. Even though Fletch is a nurse, he still suffers from that often typical male mindset of thinking: ‘Oh, I’m just run down’. However, this week, he eventually orders some tests…”
The results reveal Fletch has cancer. How does he react to the news?
“The way most people would react to it, he’s shocked, devastated and scared. You immediately think about the worst-case scenario, especially if you have kids and Fletch has four children under 16. Fletch loves them dearly – and knowing they’ve already lost one parent brings things into perspective.”
Fletch’s friend and colleague Essie di Lucca (Kaye Wragg) is also dealing with her own cancer battle. Does he confide in her?
“Fletch tells Essie about his diagnosis because she’s obviously in the same boat. Essie urges Fletch to talk to Henrik Hanssen (Guy Henry), saying he was really helpful to her when she was first diagnosed. Fletch has always had a lot of respect for Hanssen so he plucks up the courage and goes to see him.”
Later, Fletch talks again to Essie, who’s been struggling with the side-effects of her chemotherapy and wonders if it’s worth continuing. Are Fletch and Essie able to support each other?
“Yes. If you’ve got an illness, people can empathise but, unless it’s actually happened to them, they can only really guess how you’re feeling. But when you’re both experiencing that same darkness, like Essie and Fletch are now, you’re in it together. So they agree to be there for each other for support, conversation, normality and honesty.”
Can we expect some very emotional scenes as this storyline plays out?
“The emotional scenes have been very challenging to film but Kaye makes things easier because she gives so much. You’d be hard pushed to find someone who hasn’t had a brush with cancer – this storyline is good, bad, happy and sad and it’s important we show all that.”
Holby City continues Tuesdays at 8pm on BBC1.