What’s to become of the legacy of Bernie Wolfe?

Bernie salute

(Guest post by CPR)

With the farewell salute and wink as Bernie Wolfe said good-bye to Serena Campbell and broke the fourth wall saying good-bye to us, her presence in the Berena fandom remains strong. The episodes that followed have had her name sprinkled throughout, mostly through Cameron. The person who should have, Serena, has not referenced Bernie’s name, other than a bit too proudly announcing to Dr. Campbell-Gore that she no longer was partnered with Bernie.

What is about to come withthe appearance of Heather Peace, as Alex, promises to have Bernie’s name mentioned repeatedly. Some may say it is about time. I say, I’m a bit worried at what the powers-that-be will do to Bernie’s memory. Actually, I’m a lot worried. And, I hope I’m wrong.

If the Holby powers-that-be believe that in order to “free” Serena to move on and fall-in love again that Bernie’s personality needs to be disparaged, they are wrong. Again. Just like they were wrong when Leah presented Serena with lingerie. I believe they thought that scene was somehow erotic, titillating, sensual. It wasn’t. I believe they thought that is what the women-loving women viewers wanted to see. It isn’t.

Ironically, what was so charming about the Berena relationship was that it was real, both Serena and Bernie had scars, literal and figurative. Both chose their careers over their families. Both wanted to be the best. Both wanted to be the surgeon that had a patient’s life in their hands. Both had scars on their beautiful bodies. I remember feeling how lucky Bernie was to have Serena because Serena knew of the road map of scars that riddled Bernie’s body before Bernie would have to remove a stich of clothing, and it didn’t matter. Serena wanted her, loved her regardless. Bernie didn’t have to be embarrassed or ashamed of her body. She didn’t have to feel less of a woman. For those of us who are scarred, that means something.

Serena is single. She can move on and look for the new “love of her life”, a new man or woman to spend eternity with, who tastes like honeycomb and chocolate. I wish her luck. She’ll need it. My worry that Bernie’s memory will be sullied is due, in part, because Holby’s history of treating LBQT characters with respect fails miserably. And, given the flurry of complaints and criticisms levelled against Holby and Simon Harper, the executive producer, I fear that they are poised to hammer the final nail in the Berena coffin. But my fear goes beyond that.

Bernie Wolfe was a great character. There are increasing tweets about the “Gentleman Jack walk”, the stride and strengththat Suranne Jones relays in her portrayal of Anne Lister. It is inspiring. A woman who knows her own value and respects herself. A woman who walks with self-assuredness. A woman who is in charge. That’s what Bernie Wolfe, Major Bernie Wolfe, gave to us. She marched down the Holby corridors on a mission. She was strong, proud, focused, undeterred. She rose to the top of professions that are male dominated: trauma surgery and the military. She didn’t miss a beat. Bernie Wolfe was more than a middle-aged woman who finally accepted herself as a lesbian, she was a Major in the RAMC, a trauma surgeon, a woman who followed her dream to become the “best trauma surgeon that England has to offer.” All of that meant something to us.

If only we mattered to Holby. To disparage her character now not only insults women-loving women viewers but women in general. Women who chose their careers, who don’t apologize for it, who strive to professional greatness, who walk into a room and control it. To disparage Bernie Wolfe will disparage them as well.

4 Replies to “What’s to become of the legacy of Bernie Wolfe?”

  1. I am really upset about the whole thing. Jemma was amazing as Bernie Wolfe and why they couldn’t just let her live happily in Nairobi with Alex is beyond me. But no, it looks as though they are going to kill her off for good. Well if that is so, then I have finished with Holby City for good. I too long for another good and ongoing part for Jemma who is an amazing actress and a very empathetic person.

  2. What worries me is if this leads up to Serena being off screen again for a bit, why is that? I’ve said before I’d love it if Alex was linked to L**h stuff and Serena gets suspended. But ultimately Alex could die and Serena maybe goes out to tell B face to face or Bernie dies. But why would Alex be contacted? I could also see Serena telling Alex where Bernie is and kind of giving her blessing etc. Although some may welcome that it ain’t for me, because we really have all wasted our time. Either way I can’t see something happy on the horizon it’s just what Holby do.

  3. Yes, I think the wink, especially, breached the fourth wall. I recall a discussion somewhere about whether Jemma could wink! She showed us. And, if you watch it in slo-mo, there’s just the hint of a middle finger! I too am worried about what the writers have planned next. Currently it’s the David Ames show and getting quite boring. Bernie Wolfe will remain an iconic lesbian character for years to come. I don’t want to see her return to Holby now but I long for a new TV vehicle for Jemma that tests her full acting range, she is an exceptional actress. Meanwhile the good ratings for Gentleman Jack should prove to the BBC that there is an audience for lesbians on TV and they can live happy and fulfilling lives. Berena really did deserve better. Bernie lives on in our hearts.

    1. Yep, I wish Jemma had something new that we could look forward to. Much as I’m enjoying Gentleman Jack, I’m wary of putting my faith willy-nilly into anything. Call me cynical, but what happened with Berena still smarts!

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