After 15 years playing Holby City's resident ice queen Jac Naylor, actress Rosie Marcel is quitting her role as the formidable surgeon. Here, she reveals all about her departure...
Holby City fans were left stunned on Tuesday night as show favourite Jac Naylor turned her back on the hospital, with actress Rosie Marcel quitting the role after a whopping 15 years.
Jac was relieved to make it out of a hostage situation at the hospital alive – but her joy was shortlived when she realised that the first thing her lover and colleague wanted to do after the event was take drugs.
Refusing to be second best in anyone’s life, Jac decided that her relationship with Kian – and her time at Holby – was over.
After saying her goodbyes to boss Max McGerry (Jo Martin) and best pals Fletch (Alex Walkinshaw) and Sacha (Bob Barrett), Jac met old friend Clayton Pearson (Robert Lonsdale) outside the hospital, and the pair disappeared off into the night…
Will Jac ever be back in Holby City? We quizzed Rosie to find out more…
After 15 years, Jac Naylor has said farewell to Holby City. What ultimately made her decide enough is enough?
“When she found Kian about to take drugs. Everyone in the hostage situation could potentially have lost their lives that day – but he’s so weak that the first thing he thinks to do when the siege is over is go and take drugs and doesn’t think of Jac. So he basically chose drugs over Jac – and if someone does that, you’re not going to stick around are you?”
As Jac made up her mind to leave, many characters said Holby won’t be the same without her…
“Oh bless them, they’re such liars! I’d like to think it won’t be the same without her. I think she’s pretty irreplaceable to be honest. Who knows, I’m sure they’ll manage without me.”
We know lots of your fans will say Holby won’t be the same without Jac. Are you prepared for their reaction?
“I don’t know, actually. I’m just going to wait and see what happens, really. The Holby fans have been amazing, loyal and incredible, so I hope they can understand my reasons for going. There’s lots of other great characters in the show, so they’ll find a new favourite, I’m sure.”
Jac’s certainly been through a lot in her time at Holby…
“I know! She’s had a nervous breakdown, been shot, undergone about eight operations, had a motorbike crash and an attempted sexual assault. Added to that, her estranged mother died, her sister died, the love of her life Joseph left then came back… then left again! Then she learns her new love is a drug addict. There’s never been a dull moment!”
What have you most enjoyed about playing Jac in all your years on the show?
“Whenever I read a script, Jac’s always saying something that you just can’t imagine anyone could get away with. It’s the one-liners; there’s never been a script where I haven’t seen something that has made me laugh out loud, feel embarrassed or ashamed, for saying it to someone – she’s just so consistent in her character and her put downs, and who she is. She’s been an absolute joy to play.”
Have you had a favourite storyline?
“Oh, there have been so many… I think I have done somewhere in the region of 600 episodes, so it’s really tough to answer questions like that because eventually they all sort of meld into one. I always love everything I have to do with Bob Barrett, who plays Sacha. Any episode I’m in with him is a favourite. I’m going to miss him desperately.”
So was it important to have that scene at the end of your final episode between Jac and Sacha…
“Oh yeah. I’m not sure there was one in there originally. But it was a case of: ‘No, no, you’ve got to have a scene’. So it was very pleasing to do that last scene and then for Jac to go off with Clayton, the friend she’d made when she got sectioned. I think it was nice. I think it was important. It felt like a good move.”
So, are you pleased with your ‘exit’?
“I am yeah, I think it’s a great exit. I’m pleased with how it’s all panned out, definitely. And I think it’s time. I’m tired. I need a break.”
Is this really the last we’ve seen of Jac?
“Who knows? We obviously all know now that she doesn’t die, so I can’t say whether or not I’ll ever come back. I suppose, never say never.”
If Jac ever did come back do you think she’d be even more untrusting of people than ever?
“I think Jac is a creature of habit. And I think, given what’s happened in her life, she has every reason to not trust people. If she did come back she’d probably be more ruthless than ever.”
Is that even possible?
“Ha, ha. I hope so!”
So would you be open to going back?
“Yeah, as I say, never say never. But I have to say I’m really enjoying my time off. I’m really enjoying being at home and spending some time with my daughter. I’m not putting myself out there for auditions or anything like that. I just want to do nothing for as long as I can afford to. We’ve just bought a farm and we’re moving, so there’s lots of change ahead.”
Blimey, a farm? So you’re going to roll your sleeves up and get your hands dirty?
“Yes, absolutely! We’ve got stables and pig sheds and all sorts of things. It’s going to be a nightmare. But it’s also going to be an adventure and, I hope, a lot of fun. It’s completely unliveable at the moment. We’re going to have to live on a caravan site with three dogs, three cats and a six year old. So it should be interesting.”
Sounds almost as stressful as a shift on Darwin!
“Oh, hugely stressful. I’ll be like: ‘Holby, please bring me back, I can’t do this anymore’.”
So, if Jac ever did return, do you have an idea of how you would like her to return? Under what circumstances?
“To be honest with you, I think the only way Jac could return really is if she’s running the hospital. Jac Naylor CEO? Watch this space!”
Do you have one final message for all diehard Jac fans?
“Yes. Thank you for being so amazing and loyal and loving Jac the way that I love her.”
Holby City continues Tuesdays on BBC1.