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Berena touched us all in different ways. Share your own experiences here, via the comments system.

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  1. This was written straight after the last Leah episode, with anger being a major driving force. I haven’t really edited it, so apologies for errors and many strong feelings….

    Let me present a theory here.
    Holby and The Powers That Be create this fantastically flawed and gut-wrenchingly real lesbian called Bernie Wolfe and they are going to be all about Representation!  But here’s the twist, Bernie is a representation and all the shit they put her through, they put us through and they know it. The way they show they feel about her, shows how they feel about us.
    Awkward coming out after years of suppression that causes shame and family strife? That’s right lesbians, you should be ashamed and you don’t deserve a happy family life.
    Shite communicator meaning we can make it all Bernie’s fault?That’s right-it’s all your fault lesbians, everything that goes wrong in your life, all of it.
    Your girlfriend is depressed, let’s tease you with the idea that she may throw herself off the roof ( and then when you find her she laughs in your  face over your concern)-that’s right lesbians, the dead lesbian trope lives!psych we let her live! Sorry we let you think she might die for three months due to that trailer, but hey she lives, aren’t we representing well?
    No Bernie, you’re not family ( followed by more condescension from her girlfriend, partner, love of her life ( see we can’t be bad people, look at what we let them  call each other)- right again you dykes, you don’t qualify as family!
    Girlfriend breaks up with you even though you would give up everything to be with her-that’s it, you’re not enough you pathetic butch (because we obviously perceive this as a negative word) no matter what you do, people will move on ( and cheat, because you’re not enough, and because, yes that trope about promiscuous bisexuals has not been used enough.)
    Don’t believe us, how about in the next episode, set one day after said breakup, the ex girlfriend is super happy, not only that, she flirts with the woman ( child) she cheated on you with and accepts lingerie from her and calls her gorgeous because that is totally appropriate. See we actually hate you Bernie ( that means you, all lesbians, especially this looking for good rep after tears of nothing but negative tropes being perpetuated. Suckers) and now we get to finally show that by treating you like shit and moving on.
    Sorry for baiting you for months, for teasing a possible wedding, for stringing you all along, but you were good for ratings and good for street cred with Diva but we’re done with you now and have no intention of giving you a happy ending.

    ( obviously some words do not reflect my sentiments, just those who run the show. I’m just really salty and feel like I was wooed and then used and abused and I’m peeved it took me so long to see how homophobic these people are).

    An addendum to my post storyline thoughts:
    As someone who was just coming to terms with their sexuality, Berena was a fantastic journey to watch in real time. And then it wasn’t. The baiting and the foilers and all the leading on was atrocious. They knew what they were doing and they knew what it would lead to. I don’t mind that the relationship ended, but I do mind the manner in which the relationship was handled, and moreso how the advertising and exploitation of it (and us) was handled. They touted representation but it hindsight they were teasing us and using us and it leaves a bitter taste in one’s mouth and it taints all that came before. I don’t hold them accountable for actress’s schedules and I understand it’s tricky to work around, but I do hold them accountable for a messy, trope-perpetuating storyline that caused so much harm. I do hold them accountable for the disdain they have shown towards people’s genuine heartache since the storyline came to a close. I mourn the relationship and I mourn the allies I thought we had and I will be very wary of getting that emotionally involved in any storyline again.

    1. You just put into words exactly how I feel. I have written and spoken a lot about this but I have never been able to articulate what you just did. Thankyou Sarah

  2. My name is Isabelle Bats. I am 49 years old. I am a belgian lesbian. I am a performance artist.
    I am going to be on stage in a play i wrote called: Girl/fille.
    It is about a woman who was once maybe a tennis talent, who was taught to act like a boy, who is a lesbian and who is now more of a woman than ever before.
    There is one scene in the show where i talk about representation. About the fact that i rarely see myself on screen, on stage or even in a book.
    I go from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Holby City.
    I talk about #Berena.
    About the impact those two women had on so many women all around the world. (It is interesting to note that no one ever heard of Holby City in the french speaking part of Belgium and on one ever will)
    I close the scene with mention of the petition.
    Extract from the script: “It is 2019, and, dramaturgicaly, a good lesbian is still a dead lesbian.”

  3. I’d never been in a fandom before, and as I stumbled on Brave new world, and then caught up with all the Berena scenes I was all caught up. I wasnt as invested as others, but I was certainly invested enough to care. Let’s face it when Elinor died it was doomed but the fact they kept it alive was great. But before Catherines return you could tell she wasn’t that interested, the Lorraine interview, and her likes regarding Digital Spy. But that two parter in June really felt like a forever, and that’s when I get angry. Why play people like that, how did it help the narrative when 3 months later Serena was preening over a new hairstyle because a much younger F1 wanted to shag her. From the moment Leah appeared Berena and Serena were destroyed. The ultimate betrayal. Simon Harper and I believe Catherine definitely wanted a clean slate. We have all been thrown under the bus, ignored. What makes me sad is other members of the community have done that as well. “It’s a drama, all relationships end” “Jemma wanted to leave” (no proof of that) “it’s not real” they’d rather pedal that narrative to keep a straight actress who has shown she doesn’t care, happy. I feel played, ashamedly so. I’m not a stupid person, but when someone goes all in as an ally you believe them. What are the people who hang on Catherine’s word seeing, that so many of us aren’t, we can’t all be wrong. The sad thing is I believe she’ll play this card again. Berena probably will reunite when Catherine leaves but sooooo much work has to be done on and off screen

  4. What first attracted me to Berena was the depiction of the them as educated, professional, and mature women. They oozed agency. In acknowledging their love for each other, they sidestepped the ‘coming out angst’ and simply embraced each other and their relationship. In June, they had arrived at a point wherein Serena could not imagine a life without an ‘us’ and Bernie pledged to wait until ‘eternity’ for them to be together permanently.

    In conjunction with ‘gay baiting’ and the blatant use of demeaning lesbian stereotypes, HC managed to conjure every stereotype which is demeaning to women in general.

    Previous to the late Fall, Bernie and Serena were paradigms of the modern woman. The Holby writers even touched upon the conundrum of guilt which all working mothers experience. Is not the abyss of grief which Serena suffers over Eleanor’s death partially driven by her false assumption, if she had been more present, that Eleanor may have made different choices? In the same way, does not Bernie experience guilt over her necessary separation from her children? These are issues which clutter the lives of modern women and it is appropriate that HC explore them. After all, Bernie and Serena are contemporary women and accept responsibility for their decisions

    It is the destruction of this model of the modern women which angers me. HC stripped Serena of her agency and left her at the mercy of emotion and circumstance. She is left living the baseless assumptions about women which have always been detrimental and demeaning.

    Why was Serena, the consummate professional, portrayed as shagging a junior doctor, a doctor she was charged with mentoring? This is a serious violation of protocol and is utterly counter to her canon character. If Henrick Hanssen had shagged Leah in an on call room, the ‘Me Too’ movement would have justifiably demanded his suspension if not his dismissal.

    It demeans women when they are not called to the same standards as their male counterparts. Is Serena given a pass because she is a woman and women get all stressed and confused when they have to plan a social event such as a wedding? Are women so emotionally immature that their commitments cannot withstand three weeks of silence? Would Henrick have shagged Leah because his texts had not been answered? I suggest that his male character would have done something much more proactive. Oh, and what would the viewership have said if Leah had given him a silk jockstrap as a going away gift?

    Another issue which is problematical for me is Jason’s role in Serena’s utterly misguided decision to send Bernie away. Yes, Jason is likeable, charming, lovable and loving. However, it is his musings about what Bernie wants or needs which compel Serena to end the relationship and to dismiss Bernie. Serena, more than anyone, knows exactly what Jason’s issues are i.e. it is extremely difficult for him to understand the nuance and complexity of human emotions. It is a bizarre plot device for the writers to raise Jason to the role of the HC Oracle and it is utterly unbelievable that Serena would accept his suggestions without any thought as to his context. How is it acceptable that Jason has more perception than the supposedly mature Serena? It is not!

    Clearly the destruction of Berena has unnecessarily caused measurable harm to the lesbian community. They have been used and abused and still there is no acknowledgment of this.
    My point is that all thinking women should be angered. Anyone who cares about diverse and fair representation has a dog in this fight. Tropes and stereotypes are falsehoods and they should never be used as a quick fix.

    The fact that the BBC and its subsidiaries seemed to have ignored their own guidelines is insulting to anyone who pays the TV tax. Those of us who stream abroad do not get it for free and I am sure that the BBC gets its share of our payment. The BBC needs at least to acknowledge BDB me offer a dialogue so that this situation is never repeated.
    The saddest thing of all is that none of this was necessary.

  5. There was something. Once. Something breathtakingly beautiful.
    Two brilliant, beautiful, scarred, strong women were thrown together by the fates. There was no other reason that Serena Campbell and Bernie Wolfe would find each other. For a short period of time, the heavens smiled down upon them. And, us.
    There is no logical reason why I would have become so attached to this fictional couple. I suppose the thought of love isn’t logical. But I did become attached and I am grieving their loss.
    Before I continue, a few disclosures.
    I am lesbian. I’ve known that since I was five years old. Never denied it. I don’t need television shows, movies, or books to accept my sexual preference.
    I am a confident, well-educated, middle-aged successful professional. The last thing that I ever thought that I would be doing is writing a comment about a lesbian couple on a British TV show. But here I am doing just that. And I thought about why. It became very clear.
    It’s because words matter and Holby, and by Holby I mean the producers, creative staff, and writers, failed to live up to their words.

    I started watching Holby because the scene between Bernie and Alex popped up on my YouTube feed. Being a Dr. Who fan, I immediately recognized Bernie as Kate Stewart. And the coupling of Bernie and Alex was very pleasing to the eye so I watched. Not knowing anything about Holby, I thought “OK. Another lesbian relationship where the ‘soulmates’ love each other so intensely but can’t stay together.” That is, as someone far more eloquent than I will ever be, called the “Lesbian blueprint for love: tortured and at a distance.” (IllusionsSister)
    Of course, one of the women returns to her husband. Nothing new with that. That is the diet that lesbians are fed with on television dramas. It is one of the tropes that lesbians have grown accustomed to: you have to give up the “love of your life” to prove your love.
    Then it happened. An unseen, intense energy guided Bernie toward Serena. It was as if Bernie really didn’t have a choice, the energy pulled her to Serena. Then, Serena turned to Bernie in the parking lot, flashing that warm, provocative smile. And the spark ignited. The undeniable sexual chemistry exploded on my screen. I was hooked for no other reason than I admire beauty. And, Bernie and Serena (or should I say the actors that portray them) are beautiful, individually and together.
    As I watched the show, I certainly didn’t have any expectations that Bernie and Serena would last because it is formulaic medical drama. Seen one you’ve basically seen them all. Then, Holby producers and writers started talking about “Berena.” We were told by Holby powers-that-be that representation matters; that it represented a friend’s middle-age awakening; that it was a story that they wanted to tell; that the bunting was unfurled and shouting of “hurrah;” that the show was invested in Berena; that this coupling wouldn’t be portrayed as other lesbian couples have been portrayed. And contrary to my usual “prove it” approach to life, I fell for it: hook, line and sinker. I took the bait and swallowed it. I think a lot of us did. I believed.
    Their courtship was nothing short of magical. Bernie finally became “brave enough.” Serena shedding her protective exterior recognizing the symptoms of “falling in love.” Certainly, they had their struggles: Serena’s daughter’s death; her meltdown thereafter; the distance when Serena returned back to Holby. But through it all, I believed. I believed that the producers of Holby were sensitive to the story line and were on the road of doing something “groundbreaking.” I believed that they would be true to their words.
    I became that high-school student knowing that I was “different” from the other girls and wanting to find someone just like me. I had finally found them in Serena Campbell and Bernie Wolfe. They were enchanting.
    Their love reminded me of the Oscar Wilde quote:
    You don’t love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing only a song you can hear.
    Then the unthinkable happened. Serena cheats with someone she supervises. The episode that was coined a celebration of love is the very episode that Holby ends Serena and Bernie’s relationship. I am not going to speak to the litany of negative representations and hurtful baiting that went on immediately prior to the end and continues today. I want my words today to reflect the sadness and melancholy that I have in my heart for having lost a place, in an ever increasing hateful world, to which I turned to be part of love.
    Contrary to the justification for the break up, it really wasn’t mature or complicated. The notion of “if you love someone set them free” is a romantic notion of an adolescent. Adults work on their relationships. Adult, mature relationships are hard. Holby gave up on Bernie and Serena. I didn’t. But I no longer believe.
    Now, what was once something so breathtakingly beautiful is nothing. And, I no longer have that “place of love” to turn to.

  6. I am posting my comments from June/18 to the final episode in Jan/19. I and posting my thoughts this way because I followed the Berena story as the rest of these writers did. I do not write long essays as others have here, so I decided my thoughts as the story evolved would show how I felt about the Berena break up. I tried to put them in the chronological order in which I wrote them. Please bear with me since this is not written in the form that others have expressed themselves.

    Maggie Scarborough (re the picture/drawing of Serena and Bernie’s 2nd kiss in the office)  I don’t know why this thread from last August popped up, but I’m glad it did. After yesterday’s episode (6/21/18), I truly was afraid I was going to have to remove it from my wall. Now, I won’t remove it and would love to add a 360 degree rotating bubble (a hologram?) of the kiss on kiss on kiss that they portrayed in the lobby of the hospital. Someone will have to invent that, then, I’ll get it. And if it is you, Ashley Boyle, who is asking where this came from, I ordered it a year ago from RedBubble. I also had them frame it for me.

    Maggie Scarborough to Joanna Sams: Thank you, Joanna. I tend to wear “rose colored glasses” sometimes so I don’t see strange or bad things coming. Serena is like a goddess to me and I know she’s playing a role, but I just don’t want my image of her to be spoiled. I guess we have to take it one episode at a time. I appreciate your thoughts.

    Maggie Scarborough:  With your thoughts, which I copied here, I agree that I don’t want to watch the Berena setup disintegrate, but do you think there will be definite signs that that is going to happen? I like to toughen up my heart a little before I have it broken. So, what signs? (and btw, I think Leah escaped from an asylum) “I think Catherine has moved on from Berena as has Jemma, ultimately its the fans that hung around for a decent ending are the ones who are let down. I certainly won’t be watching it disintegrate. Anyway that’s my thoughts 💗”

    Maggie Scarborough shared a link.
    December 12, 2018 at 12:19 PM
    Somebody still owes an eternity plus 1,000 years….

    Maggie Scarborough
    December 11, 2018 at 7:31 PM
    “Will you wait for me because I can’t think of my life without you?” “For eternity ” “At least we still have 48 left to ourselves.” “Don’t worry, I’ll be back.”

    Maggie Scarborough
    December 13, 2018 at 9:55 PM
    More evidence the writers had us in the palms of their hands. From Primum Non Nocere, Part 1: Greta is speaking to Bernie because Bernie has been sent to find out about Greta’s stomach complaints: Greta: “You’re Serena’s wife.” Bernie: “What not. not quite, not yet.” Bernie explains she is qualified to work with Greta. Greta: “Oh, I know you’re qualified, you’re the greatest trauma surgeon this country has to offer.” Bernie: “Who said that” Greta: “Serena. She was talking to Mr. Griffin. She also said you were the one great love affair of her life and that kissing you tastes like chocolate and honeycomb. I think she’d been drinking.” Bernie: “Wow! OK.” Greta: “You might not be married, but still you’re her family.”

    Maggie Scarborough I wasn’t going to watch the latest episode, but when I saw a clip in which Serena said to Jason that she was going to a yoga camp for Christmas, I said, well, I gotta hear and see that. I did see that. It was a comment, here and gone. Then I saw Serena open the gift that Leah gave her, the black lace undies and bra, and I just wondered, who thought that gift up? Of course, Serena had to put her two cents in by saying she didn’t mind people thinking she and Leah had something going…. it would help her reputation or something… Yep, just kick Bernie to the curb, just kick anything to do with Berena right in the gut. I am so very disappointed in the transplanted Serena. Why did the producers take a perfectly good, whole woman who had depth and turn her into someone who now seems very shallow and very lonely?

    Maggie Scarborough
    December 19, 2018 at 11:44 AM
    I just read the summary Dr. Viv Pointon wrote about the end of Berena. It was so “spot on” and resonated with the way most of us are feeling about the end of Berena. I copied this part from her brilliant summary: “To me Berena seems a little like Camelot, for one brief shining moment… Fifty years ago I fell for Jemma’s Aunt Vanessa[23] in the role of Guinevere (yes, the name of Serena’s great niece). Perhaps I am a little in love with the great Bernie Wolfe. Oh for a spin off – Holby City does The Good Karma Hospital in Kenya!” And, I thank Dr. Viv for her summary of ‘the end of Berena.’

    Maggie Scarborough shared a link.
    January 7 at 11:04 PM
    This love story was on track. Then someone sabotaged the story. “Not the right animals” my foot!

    Finally, the picture I had on my wall of Serena and Bernie’s 2nd kiss, which I thought was the best kiss they’d ever had, came down. I jerked it off my wall after the “Not the right animals” episode.

    1. Thank you, Maggie Scarborough. I just wrote what I felt but it has been comforting to discover that many others have felt like me about the appallingly end of Berena. And I am still grieving. I am also angry. We must all channel our grief and anger towards the producers and the BBC and ensure that never again can they treat us with such callous dismissal. I didn’t know, until I read it here that 30% of TV lesbian relationships end in death and only 8% live happily ever after. Life isn’t like that. WLW relationships should be celebrated and cherished. Sadly the people at Holby forgot the latter.

  7. I’ve always become hopelessly invested in wlw relationships on tv ever since I was 9 and watched CJ kiss Abby on LA Law. I know now that kiss was all about ratings, but back then, to my 9 year old self that kiss was the most thrilling thing I had ever experienced. I convinced myself this was because I thought lesbians were cool and mysterious and never once thought I could actually be one.
    This pattern of thought continued throughout my teenage years, and whilst I was falling in love with female friends I was faithfully performing heterosexuality, getting felt up behind the bins whilst drunk on cheap cider down the local park and next to me would be the girl I loved gettin’ felt up by my latest conquest’s best pal.
    Section 28 was still firmly in place so no teacher at school would/could have assisted me, so I continued on my path of obliviousness until I was 17 and the walls came crashing in. I was deeply in love with my best friend and I couldn’t deny it anymore. I don’t want to talk too much about that time, its not something I want to re-live, but I still was able to compartmentalise my love and pretend.

    I only found out I was a lesbian when a college tutor told me I was in 1999. Sounds unbelievable to say this but I really was shocked. I honestly did not know how to ‘be gay’. However something in me clicked and I knew she was right – although I still question whether I am cool enough to this day. That same teacher told me ‘it was alright, as a lesbian I wouldn’t experience the same abuse as a gay man’ but then followed that with ‘although, it might be worse being invisible’.
    I don’t want to be invisible.

    I know things have changed, section 28 has gone, but I question how easy it is for teenagers nowadays to acknowledge their same sex feelings. Is it any easier? There are far more lesbian relationships on screen now than there ever were when I was young but when statistics show that, from 1970 – 2017 30% of these relationships had ended in the death of 1 partner and only 8% had a happily ever after – growing up with this level of negativity surrounding their sexuality can and probably will severely affect their outlook in life and their own sense of worth just as it did mine.

    I’ve seen countless wlw characters/relationships destroyed on television by stupid senseless tropes and Berena is just the latest in a long line. But the difference for me this time is the beautiful community that has sprung up around this story, a community that was not accessible to me when I was young. Some of the most intelligent, inspiring women I have encountered. We have supported each other and are continuing to support each other through this. So thank you all
    Oh.. and the fan fiction really is stupendous x

  8. So a few years back I happened upon Holby one Tuesday evening. I had grown up on a steady mix of Casualty and Holby but had not watched either with much dedication in recent years. I noticed immediately that Jemma Redgrave was in and being a bit of a Redgrave clan dolt I immediately sat up and paid attention. It was the episode where Jemma and Catherine were at the station leaning on the desk talking with Jason about IT or something like that and well that was that. Here I am 30 months later posting a comment on this website as part of my response to and way of dealing with what Holby made me sit through last month.

    Let me say at the outset I am a Bernie fan. I liked Serena initially (now I cannot remember why I did) but I adored Bernie. She had all the attributes that I am rather a sucker for, a highly competent professional, with a family, who was not threatened by her equals but made them her friends and I’m talking proper friends, who was kind to her colleagues. The sort of person I am very happy to spend my time with. And I was absolutely mesmerised by their developing relationship, I felt like I was watching a battle with the two of them against the world. I was rooting for them and my goodness did Holby make us wait, but we did and were rewarded for about what 4 episodes…. No matter I will take those.

    Fast forward to June and the love gift to the Berena fans or at least that is what it felt like at the time. On reflection maybe there were little hints of the rubbish to come but I ignored it. That kiss in the lobby is seared into my memory and always will be together with the line “I have seen the scar” possibly one of the most erotic sentences I have ever heard… seriously.

    Then of course we have the December episodes. I will go on record as saying that I do not for one minute believe we will not see Bernie again. I believe she will be back but I have no idea when or for how long and maybe Holby don’t know that either, I would love to see her back too, I am not conflicted there either. What I am conflicted about however is whether it is safe for Bernie to come back.I watched the buildup to the December episodes in utter disbelief, It sort of went like this: Leah will not be a romantic interest for Serena; Leah might fancy Serena but Serena will knock her back; Serena might fancy Leah but she wont act on it; Serena might kiss Leah but she won’t sleep with her; damn they really went there. Everything that I knew about Serena was pulled apart and kicked around in the dirt, the scorned woman who detested infidelity who condemned staff relationships had a fling with an F 1 while Bernie was absent. At this stage I’m still thinking no they wont break them up, Kate Hall said they wouldn’t, Catherine had said as much too. There was no way this was going to end, Bernie was going to forgive her because that is what you do when you love someone. Then of course she does forgive her but in six minutes at the end of the program Serena realises that Bernie is not into slippers and doesn’t want to do the bins and because she loves her so much she says go. Bernie winks and salutes and Serena does a flipping conga.

    I just don’t understand what happened, I feel like I have been tangoed. You know that sort of did that just really happen? Apparently it did because as I hot social media the next day I saw the carnage. The distress the sorrow the anger. From old and young and all the in-betweens. It was unbelievable and even nowI think I am only starting to understand the human cost of this storyline because that was the ultimate price that was paid by many. By this I am talking about the rage at yet another lesbian storyline not only spun with such negativity but kicked into touch. Like the community is incapable of having strong loving relationships with any measure of fidelity. Like we are incapable of building relationships that can cope with distance. Like we are incapable of living this idea – I love you and I chose you and so how do we make this work because I don’t want to lose you. In fact I think that sounds rather familiar. Then I look at the people who still, some 4 weeks later are really struggling with this — and some of them have been really badly affected.

    This is a television show. Are we meant to say either bravo or maybe yes that challenged me, not experience abject distress because of careless inaccurate and insulting representation or harmful narration? Again the carnage caused by these actions is not acceptable and this is why I am so up for the fight and why I am supporting this website and its attempts to engage.

    I have no doubt about Bernie coming back and maybe these two do eventually marry, but for me you know, the journey is equally as important as the end destination maybe more so as it determines how you arrive, either tarnished or with your dignity intact. I will take Bernie back but I will not take her back only to lose her again (well I will take an off screen relationship) nor will I take her back in a way that causes more harm. There we have it I am using the word harm which is what I think this comes down to — an issue of harm. Many are fortunate enought not to have experienced harm, but many did and I for one want an understanding of that harm and how we can avoid this happening again.

  9. I have really enjoyed the stories and blogs on here – so many have mentioned circumstances and experiences that mirror my own. So I am not going to attempt to repeat them from my own perspective. So below could almost be what one might say is a critics review – albeit probably a little too emotive to really be published as such. But it’s my opinion for what it’s worth!

    A little bit of reality – please!
    I am not a person who usually gets invested in TV programs of any kind – there are some movies over the years that have truly moved and inspired me, but I think the only TV series/program that did pique my curiosity and have me hooked was the first 3 series of Bad Girls – and that had an ok conclusion in my opinion and I think the acting and chemistry between the characters was spot on!
    There was something about this pairing between “Bernie and Serena” that drew me in. The chemistry and rapport between the two characters in the build-up was wonderful, but it all ended so soon, and leaves me with the same opinion – that once the build-up is over and they stick them together they have no idea what to do with an actual relationship.
    To me this is nuts – am I alone in wanting some normalcy? To see a real relationship blossom and go through the usual ups and downs that is reality is far more appealing to me than constant bed hopping, death and accentuated drama! Is this really what keeps people watching TV programs? Not me that’s for sure!
    This program is definitely a soap opera. But there are better ones currently airing than Holby that’s for sure. In my opinion the best is Coronation Street. It’s been around since 1960 and has stood the test of time. It’s not BBC, so has to survive on its own funding and has to continue to deliver on ratings. It has some really good actors – the story lines are in a lot of cases identifiable and down to earth (Not always – sometimes it also has some pretty far-fetched ones).
    Holby city has in fact commanded some pretty decent acting talent over the years too but I think one of the reasons they fail to deliver is down to consistency in the writing of their story lines and also in their consultation of actual individuals who might provide insight into the subject matter.
    If you look at Coronation Street, on the whole there is a consistent writer of episodes. They tend to follow a storyline through from start to finish.
    Holby City apparently has representatives from the NHS assisting with the medical side of the content, and on the whole it’s probably delivered fairly accurately (If not sometimes accentuated for dramatic effect). But actual policy is not accurately represented, as was seen with the recent examples of Serena’s bullying of the F1 Jasmine and also her liaison with an F1 (Leah) on her ward!
    And this also reflects the representations of the Berena relationship – specifically around how it was ended.

    Episode writers – continuity of storyline:
    As I mentioned above, in a lot of cases on Holby city there is no continuity – it goes from week to week with different writers, making it hard to construct a continuing story. Its ok if you just want to have the program covering medical events and the short storylines around those – but if you want to, as Holby seems to try and do, bring in stories around their permanent cast – then you have to put some consistency around that writing. A way to do that would be to perhaps assign a writer to cover that story from start to finish – it reflects that they do not do this, one was able to always pick really gaping holes in the Berena story and others that ran over a few episodes or more.
    As an example – The last 2 episodes of the Berena S/L were written by totally different people: “Love is” – Michelle Lipton and “The Right sort of animal” – Ed Sellek. How on earth there can be any proper continuity in storylines is beyond me, and indeed it showed in the vast difference between the former and the latter.
    The episodes in June “Primum non Nocere parts 1 & 2 were at least written by the same person – Patrick Holmes, and I do think that showed in the continuity of the storyline.

    Blame it on actor availability
    I have seen a lot of criticism on twitter (and indeed comments and liking of comments by CR herself) about “actor availability” and how CR was not ready to ride off into the sunset blah blah blah….but let’s not forget – if you watch the original interviews introducing Jemma Redgrave, that she was in fact only there for about 6 months – she must have extended her contract, and it was in response to the popularity of Berena and the willingness to not end it by killing someone off or break them apart.
    But actor availability is NOT to blame for this – it is not in fact the breakup that has caused the backlash – it is the WAY they broke them up and the false hopes that were given prior to the last 2 and a half minutes of “The right sort of animal”. I think it was the most careless, unprofessional rubbish I have ever witnessed. I do struggle to see how even the actors themselves could look at that final 2 and a half minutes in the context of what had gone before and not think it short changed the audience!

    Choice of Breakup Storylines:
    As already mentioned above – I think most now agree that the breakup is not the issue (Well as long as ones availability is not blamed for it!) It was the choice of story lines to deliver the breakup that I, and many take issue with!
    I totally agreed with a lot of the points made by many about the cheating being a terrible storyline – from the point of view that Serena had been a victim of it and hated it – and had also given Bernie a hard time for doing it herself! Also when I think back to Bernie’s cheating – on the face of it she was totally ashamed of it – and of the hurt it caused, and I think a different circumstance in that she had finally awakened to who she was and that she was not in the right relationship.
    And of course the choice of a 32 year old woman for the task was deplorable!
    The Serena cheating storyline was just pure lust – no love involved at all – cheating on the “love of her life” – I found that to be totally sickening.
    And as for the reference in the breakup talk where people interpret Bernie’s statement about “not being lonely” to her also cheating – I do not agree….I think she was either inferring she had offers there but had not acted on them, or she was just letting Serena out of feeling guilty for dumping her, because let’s face it – Serena did dump Bernie.
    Everything in Bernie’s body language showed her total love for Serena, and she would have “waited for eternity”. Of the two I agree with you that Serena just wanted it over with – I am not convinced Bernie really did. She acted with such feeling in both episodes – and JR acts with her heart when she believes in something – she said once in an interview that acting is the only thing she’s ever really wanted to do because it’s “How she expresses herself”.
    Then we have the actual breakup story- line itself:
    Serena uses some cheap lines like not imagining Bernie “putting the bins out in her slippers” – what the hell was Bernie doing all those months she was living in Holby working on the Trauma unit??? And she didn’t have to wear slippers to put out the bins!
    So not only was the cheating a lame story line – so to was the ultimate breakup – not to mention catching a bouquet and then grinning like a Cheshire cat at the head of a line of dancers doing the Conga! Crap crap crap!

    Other observations of the storyline – beginning to end:
    I would go so far to say that through the entire Berena relationship – from beginning to end – it was in fact the character of Bernie that was the more invested of the two.
    Put aside the running away to Kiev (Which in fact was a fear of messing things up and losing the friendship she valued so dearly) – it was Bernie who stuck there through Serena’s meltdown after Elinor’s death – who waited patiently while she went on Sabbatical – who then joined her in France. They decided on Nairobi together – but again it was Bernie who let Serena come back to Holby when Henrik needed her – then extend it when Jason’s girlfriend got pregnant – who then came and forced the issue in June and who would have honourably walked away when Serena wanted to stay with her family – (yes and she never acknowledged Bernie as part of her family!) But Serena chased after her and asked her to “wait” – and Bernie would have “waited for eternity”!

    Holby city has showed a total disrespect for gay women – and I would go so far as to say they in fact baited them before the breakup and laughed in their faces with the episodes after it.
    I truly hope they revert the Serena character back to men – I do NOT want her trying to represent me in any way shape or form ever again! Not that I will know as I have voted with my eyes – that program will never grace my screen again.
    And finally I would say this – If Holby city do not want to cover story lines (minority or otherwise) properly – then they should stick to short fast paced stories around a medical theme – and leave the proper stuff to programs that can deliver!!

    1. @ Chris,
      loved your analytical listing of points to think about/to consider :). I really enjoyed reading your thoughts, as I share very many of them. I was totally blown away by the Berena storyline. I just discovered it in February 2019, per chance, through a youtube feed – the Berena clip from Primum Non Nocere Parts 1&2 (I live in Hungary and had never heard of this tv drama before). I am still blown away by it, though totally incapable of re-watching the December 2018 parts – the Leah parts and the break-up, just ignoring them, as if it never happened (but very much re and re-watching the rest). Really, just can’t take it. And the reasons you summarized so very perfectly. And yes, I DO very much agree that it was Bernie who was more invested in the whole relationship, I for myself mean because she was a “real” lesbian, while Serena was something of a hetero-turned-gay and could not really fully live up to it. They alwasy gave obsactles in her life – Elinor, then Jason, then Jason and Greta – somehow always distracting her from her life with Bernie and from her feelings toward her. Why? I don’t get it. Yes, this was a betrayal, for sure! This emotional inequality between the two – this was what led to their breakup in the end. Probably the writers knew from the start (from Jemma’s contract period) they had to build up the story in a way that would allow for Jemma to step out when needed. This is why they did not work out the Serena part of the Berena as much as the Bernie part was very well worked out and had very deep and real feelings toward the other and very much consumed in the relationship.

  10. Hello,

    Je m’excuse par avance de m’exprimer en français mais mon anglais n’est pas suffisant pour que je m’essaie à la langue de Shakespeare ! Je suis hétéro. Je suis française. J’ai découvert l’histoire de Bernie et Serena aux détours de mes pérégrinations sur Youtube. J’ai d’abord été intriguée par cette histoire puis je m’y suis petit à petit investie, suivant assez régulièrement son évolution.
    N’étant pas gay et encore moins anglaise, je ne pense pas être en mesure de me prononcer sur la question de la représentation des lesbiennes à la tv. Je ne ferai donc que parler de ce que j’ai pu ressentir et de la manière dont j’appréhende cette fin que je trouve pour le moins “suspecte”.
    Comme beaucoup, je trouve le déroulé des épisodes du 4 et du 11 décembre complètement incohérent. Je crois que nombre d’entre vous partage cet avis. Aussi je m’interroge : n’est-ce pas là une mise en scène totalement voulue pour conduire les fans de Berena sur une mauvaise piste et mieux les surprendre par la suite ?
    Plusieurs choses m’amènent sans cesse à cette conclusion. En France (je pense que c’est pareil en Angleterre), celle qui attrape le bouquet est considérée comme étant la prochaine à se marier. Si la tradition est respectée, Serena est donc une future mariée. Mais alors avec qui ? La première personne qu’elle cherche du regard, c’est Bernie. Dans son esprit, c’est elle sa future femme. Ne trouvez-vous pas bizarre que le nom de Bernie n’ait jamais été autant cité que depuis qu’elle est partie. L’arrivée de son fils en plus ne fait que renforcer l’impression qu’Holby ne veut pas qu’on l’oublie…. Pourquoi ? Peut-être parce qu’elle doit revenir… Je pense que Serena va peu à peu se rendre compte de ses erreurs et de sa perte. Et si j’ai bien compris (traduit !), Simon Harper a parlé d’un heureux évènement pour le printemps… un mariage, non ? Catherine Russell n’a-t-elle pas tweeter – innocemment ! – sur le fait que Serena n’a jamais été une mariée dans la série.
    Je pense que le producteur et que la chaîne restent très silencieux car ils savent que l’histoire n’est pas terminée… Je ne crois pas qu’il soit humainement et déontologiquement possible de changer de position et de retourner sa veste de cette manière. Il n’est pas acceptable, ni envisageable qu’une chaîne puisse cautionner un tel comportement vis-à-vis d’une communauté. Il n’est pas possible non plus d’accepter un award en sachant pertinemment la suite de l’histoire. Je pense donc qu’il s’agit une vaste mise en scène qui se terminera en apothéose par un vrai coup d’éclat. Bien entendu, ce n’est que mon humble avis !

  11. I have come to the conclusion that some part of the human race should by now have evolved to a point where their heads look out over their backs rather than over their chests. I say this because they are so constantly looking out to make sure their asses are covered, and no blame, punishment, banishment, or responsibility ends up in their hands alone, that would cause them to step forward, and say with all simplicity, “It was MY fault! I didn’t have the foresight. I lacked the skills. I didn’t really understand my audience, only the company’s audience share translated into $$$. I lost control of my own project. I was the one responsible!” – Wouldn’t that be refreshing? Wouldn’t that for one brief shining moment cause a pause that would silently but strongly startle us! This is where the executive producer, producer, and story runner would step forward to say these words…if no one else does it, at least the executive producer should. But too many of them today are merely “Suits”, watching the money, keeping the project on track, and making sure that “Bottom Line” gives the company’s investors as much profit on their investments as it can. I don’t believe Simon Harper has done this..taken the responsibility to address Berena directly and truthfully. His head seems to have evolved facing his backside as well.
    In an interview before the final episodes of season 20, he even said the following, sounding awfully contrived to shift Catherine Russell into the crosshairs instead of himself – behold!
    “It doesn’t seem so, according to executive producer Simon Harper, who said: “For Catherine we get a lot of pressure for Berena, and with Jemma we can get her back every now and then.

    “But each year I sit down with Catherine to get her to stay and if I say, ‘You’ll be cooing on the phone to Nairobi’, it’s not that interesting to an actor!

    “So it’s a double-edged sword. Holby has a reputation for splitting up characters but it’s got to be exciting.”

    Really, Mr. Harper! “Berena” simply became bigger, stronger, more popular,and more extensive throughout the world than you ever could have conceived. So losing control, you shut it down, but it hasn’t quite died, has it? Now what? Please, whatever you do, don’t as in your former interview go hiding behind the surgical gowns of Catherine Russell and Jemma Redgrave, who both deserve so much better from you!

  12. A recap of my twitter thread this week. Nothing further to add…

    @BBCHolbyCity Please read the following thread of 12 tweets. And maybe, one fine sunny day, actually engage with it and others like it? #BerenaDeservedBetter

    I am still seething at how you mismanaged the #berena story after Kiev, let alone the way you finally killed it. My comments are not in any way critical of the actors but I tag @catherinerusse2 and @jemma_redgrave to describe why a significant proportion of the fandom has turned to ashes

    With the magnificent acting of CR and JR (and some very decent writing) you, clearly to your surprise, created a stunning w/w fiction. Complex, charming, subtle, intelligent. You appear not to realise how vanishingly rarely (i.e.maybe once a decade) that sort of love is portrayed in TV and film

    Thousands of marginalised lesbian/bi girls and women *finally* found heroines or healthy crushes or role models. Or for some of us our own successful professional lives just this once reflected and represented.

    Then, clearly a routine event, you had to cope with the actors’ entirely reasonable demands for time away. Oh my gosh, were you not up to the task. Despite your apparent smugness in thinking (and in social media responses and the Diva award) that you were so brilliant.

    You then churned out, ad nauseam, all the cynical insulting lesbian TV tropes – the family deaths, the near-deaths, the alcoholic decline, a loved and respected leader self-destructing professionally, and charmless cheating fumbles in the workplace with a subordinate.

    You couldn’t even be bothered to create any decent storylines for Bernie (a crying waste of a fabulous character) when Serena was on sabbatical. And then months of unnecessary, destructive, spiteful and cynical teasing and baiting. On-screen and in assorted media

    Then your glory time. The rushed few last minutes of Berena you gave us the Christmas present (thanks for that…) of a cobbled together afterthought, maliciously (yet again – remember the counterpoint story of Eleanor’s death?) sandwiched between two happy weddings.

    The final nail in the coffin of this unique TV lesbian partnership was memorable only because of bizarre out-of-character story planning and scripting you approved. And since then @BBCHolbyCity then you have remained silent. No response *at all* to the social media outpouring of anger and disappointment from many women, some of whom have undergone a long lifetime constantly seeing their way of living and loving disrespected, mocked and trashed by thoughtless ignorant TV and film writers and producers.

    @BBCHolbyCity What a cowardly and puerile way of dealing with your fans – not least as you are a public service broadcaster awash with funds from a hefty compulsory tax on virtually every UK household – rather a lot of which, surprise, consist of lesbian/bi women

    We supported you @BBCHolbyCity beyond your imagination when you got it right. But then you got it wrong. So very very wrong. And you will not debate it with us? Utter shame on you. #BerenaDeservedBetter #WeDeservedBetter

  13. Berena meant everything to me. I always believed that I got obsessed with a show, tv character, or actress when my life was at a low point. It wasn’t until 4 months after I had first started watching their episodes that they started to really mean something to me. In February 2017, I was in an abusive relationship and I was in the middle of a part-time job that I hated. Berena was there to comfort me when no one else was, not even my family.

    Because they were such a huge part of my life, I decided to get it tattooed on my ankle last April. Right after the December 11 episode aired, I was feeling so many emotions and at one point, I had the feeling of wanting to cut my foot off, anything to get rid of the tattoo because I felt like I was betrayed.

    In the last month, I’ve gotten support from so many people in the Berena fandom and I’m so very grateful because my mental health has gotten so bad in the last 2 months and Berena was just icing on the cake of it all.

    I’m just so incredibly sad that they split up, they were supposed to be together forever. They were a unique couple, they became friends first and then fell in love with each other. I loved that they were in their 50s because it showed that you’re never too old to fall in love.

    Representation is so important and the writers let so many people down. Everyone kept saying that they weren’t going to let the fans down and they knew how much Berena meant to all of us and yet, to me, it felt like that ripped a huge piece of my heart out. I don’t think I’ll ever feel the same again.

    Berena also helped me start writing again and now I love it because I get to write about 2 characters are so important to me. Just because the writers go it wrong, doesn’t mean all the fanfictions have to as well.

    Berena will forever be in my heart and I so wish it hadn’t ended and that writers, producers, and everyone else involved hadn’t reacted so poorly to all of us fans.

    With all of this anger and heartache, the only good thing that came out of it is that hopefully, we get to see more of Jemma Redgrave elsewhere. I love her and Bernie Wolfe about the same, more than life itself.

  14. I am 15 and nearly all of my life has been awful. Berena was the first thing in my life that made me feel happy and hopeful. The storyline helped me come out to my family. At the end of march 2017 my health took a turn for the worst and last amazing thing i was able to do was meet jemma. Since then Berena was the only thing making me feel hopeful and getting me through the constant daily pain. I know this sounds ridiculous, but now that Berena is gone i feel like i have nothing to get me through. I just wish the BBC could see and feel what it’s like to have something so important ripped away from you.

  15. Berena meant a great deal to me. Without Bernie Wolfe coming into my life and making me realise that if a 52-year-old woman could come out and be brave and be her true self, then 20 year old me could stop hiding and do the exact same thing. I am so grateful for the many friendships I made through this relationship, and so grateful for the many different life stories and advice from people that has enriched my life. It was all such a beautiful, magical and real thing played out in real time and it makes me sad that so much effort was put into it, so much praise was lapped up by the people who inevitably ruined it for good. I’m angry, and I won’t let my feelings go unheard.

    I’m not so much bothered by Berena splitting, my issue lies with how it was done, the baiting, the false hope, the ignored aftermath and the lack of responsibility and care on the writer’s/producers behalves. They claim to have gotten it ‘right’ and portrayed it as ‘grown-up’ and ‘believable’ and yet so many women have been unable to think, eat, sleep, have even resorted to things as bad as self harming and their MH getting worse. It’s so easy for the praise to be taken in when they are given it, yet when they’ll ignore the bad and act as if we and Berena never even existed. This isn’t the rep we signed up for, this is NOT how their story was supposed to end.

    They [the Holby writers/producers/anyone involved in this particular storyline] really had it all, they had us wrapped around their fingers. We believed in them and in getting a perfect ending and then they chose to f*** us all over, tarnishing all it used to be. We believed in them, we put so much trust in them to get it right for us and they let us down big time. We need to band together to make our voices heard, we aren’t going down without a fight.

  16. I’ve always had a soft corner for British TV series, but I came across Berena not on my own but through a friend. Though I’ve been quite leery of f/f stories on TV because I find them too male-gaze-y, which makes me uncomfortable, there was something about this one that hooked me right away. Perhaps it was the terrific acting of Jemma Redgrave and Catherine Russell, their characters’ sexual chemistry setting the screens on fire. Or perhaps it was the age thing — older women, falling in love, desiring each other — which was so hopeful and uplifting, like a mirror to my own future.
    What I hadn’t anticipated was how emotionally invested I would get. The ham-handed break-up handed to us as a Christmas present (sometimes I’m convinced it was someone’s idea of a cruel joke) felt like a slap in the face. Unlike many others in the fandom, I wasn’t that upset with the infidelity storyline because I still held on to hope that they would handle it well. And it seemed I was right, when Bernie and Serena looked set to work through it.
    And then, those two and a half minutes…
    I didn’t expect to break down over a fictional couple. But I did, and then we were told that it had been a “mature” and “grown-up” ending, and that I wasn’t “getting it”. I don’t have the words to articulate my distress and discomfort and anger. I can only say that I am grateful to have found tremendous support online, and be part of a movement that makes this fiasco a learning opportunity for everyone, including myself.

  17. I first came across Berena while searching Youtube for something else. Two minutes into the clip Catherine and Jemma were on-screen together. Their chemistry was immediate. I was hooked. I began watching every episode of Holby Berena appeared in, in long evening and weekend marathon sessions until I caught up. I found a welcoming fandom and community of amazing women from around the world.
    I watched the interviews, the comcons, the award ceremonies, listened to the Holby executive team and cast when they said they were glad they were getting it right (and they were), that representation – particularly representation of older women and even more particularly older lesbian women – mattered, that they understood the importance and impact of what they were doing, that this storyline would be different, that it was being taken seriously.
    Then came the lesbians cheat (and the lesbians-cheat-with-younger-women) trope, the predatory lesbian trope, the lesbians-love-each-other-but-cannot-be-together trope, the lesbians-will-always-be-unhappy trope, the bi/lesbian promiscuity trope, women-loving-women’s sexuality yet again stripped down to just sex. Made worse by the queerbaiting of spoilers and interviews, that Berena were staying together (they clearly weren’t), that Berena were getting a “mature, adult, beautiful” ending. It was clear that the Holby powers that be thought they were still getting it right.
    They weren’t, and I was heartbroken.
    Representation – good representation – matters because people learn about themselves when they see themselves reflected back. In the dearth of lesbian stories in mainstream media, almost all are the teenage/young adult coming out trope. But I am in my 40s. In Berena, I could see where I am going, where I could go, possibilities, future. Berena broadened our stories. #BerenaDeservedBetter

  18. I was drawn in to the Berena love story before I realised that it was a love story. Two beautiful professional women at the top of their game, surgeons who appeared to be able to work together in a way rarely seen on tv or in real life. Flawed women with very different personalities but something in each of them appealed to me. Then the love story began and I was truly smitten with Berena. Obsessed in a way that I have never felt before. Words are not sufficient to describe how I feel about Berena and how it has affected me, a straight, professional woman. When “eternity” happened in June 2018 I felt that I could finally relax, Berena were endgame

    Then came the Autumn trailer followed by spoilers and baiting. I have never suffered from anxiety before but my anxiety levels were high and constant, my mind was distracted beyond what is reasonable as it became apparent that Berena was not being treated with the care and love that I felt we had been led to believe would be the case. I am still grieving their break up and how it happened. I still hope that they will be endgame at some point in the distant future but it needs to be done in a safe way with regard to the fandom. Responsibility for what has happened on screen and in the wider press and social media needs to be acknowledged. If you’re reading this and feel that, like me, you can try be a good ally then please get involved

    #BerenaDeservedBetter and so do we

  19. I was surprised, to say the least, that I was heartbroken when Bernie and Serena split. And even more so that I didn’t sleep that night but instead connected with other women around the world who were also grieving that this fictional couple, Berena, would no longer grace our TV screens. Their story was brilliantly written and exquisitely acted but their parting was brutal, hasty, and scarred with too much bait suggesting they would marry. This award-winning story of middle-aged lesbians had been kicked into the nearest bin, yet again, the on-screen representation of gay women shown as leading only to sorrow. I’m proud to join this campaign to bring about change. Lesbians can live happily ever after!

  20. What a beautiful love story unfolded between two beautiful, smart, and vibrant women, Serena Campbell and Bernie Wolfe, only to be abruptly and insensitively destroyed. They deserved better and we did too.

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