Guest post by Kelly aka @inchhigh1971
I think it is safe to say I have been a bit late to the realisation of the true extent of hurt and the impact to the LGBT audience of the Berena storyline ending in Holby City back in December. We all mostly accept it was not the ending but rather how it was done.
That is not what I have decided to mainly focus on, as this has already been covered extremely well. But I need to explain how I have changed my viewpoint and now will not watch the show I once loved.
Back in December my Dad was in hosp terminally ill so my main priority was here.
I initially then thought there was an element of hysteria around the Berena ending and I admit and fully hold my hands up, that I was ignorant to the hurt.
I have since learnt a lot more from this site and from twitter followers who were hurt and angry and still understandably are.
I have sat back and learnt that many were blocked for airing their criticism to Catherine Russell and the criticism to writers and producers at Holby was met with silence.
I thought it was the classic Government style PR tactic of shutting up shop and riding out the storm until the storm passed. Hoping it all would pass quickly.
Then, on Lesbian visibility day back in April, I saw many tweets from allies in the media and tv world and it occurred to me that Catherine Russell, who I followed and as we know plays a now openly gay/bi woman in Holby, had not tweeted or RT anything that day. In fact her twitter posts were about promoting both her children’s gigs and train delays. Yet a week or so after that visibility day there were two tweets with other gay/bi women characters, who she was ‘getting to play with’ (in her words) on Holby. This would have normally been met with excitement but it was totally reckless and showed a lack of empathy towards the hurt still felt by many.
There are still ardent CR fans and that is fine, their choice, but for me I felt let down and baited by Holby like many others and felt quite frankly used at this point. I started then to question the loyalty I once had to both the actress and Holby.
I then thought about all the media interviews she had done talking about representation and the importance of this, when she was riding the waves of this newly acquired fame and had ever rising numbers of LGBT followers. I simply asked her a question as to why there were no tweets on the visibility day. I received no reply, yet over two years, whenever I replied to one of her tweets, I mostly got a like from her.
I went to see CR in person at Leicester. I met her beforehand and had a selfie with her. I met her in the hospital with her dear Dad whilst I waited with my late Mum. I went up to say hello as I loved AYBS and Holby.
I followed CR on twitter in addition to already loving the character Serena she played on screen.
Like many of us I was deeply affected by the Berena storyline. I had watched Holby since 2005 and loved it but suddenly it had now become a powerful ally and for the first time in my life I saw positive representation. I have been out as an openly gay woman since 1993 and thought ‘Well done Holby and the BBC!’
There was never any such tv representation in my teens. I came out at 23. I went to school during section 28 and it was tough for me and many of us in the early 1990s. I struggled with accepting myself as being a gay woman and my mental health suffered as did my family supporting me.
Back to June 2018 and I kept the faith only to then realise much later than others that we were played. The Dreadful cheating storyline, which was totally against the character of Serena and her hatred for it after her ex Edward’s cheating, was sloppy, rushed and unnecessary. They could have just ended in June was the overwhelming view but they dragged it out for a further six months purely for ratings. What other reason was there?
I feel that CR has not been at all fair. She enjoyed the adulation but has not been prepared to listen to any valid and fair polite criticism.
The writers and producers have acted the same.
Then just this week the storyline with Dom/Lofty/Issac made my blood boil. They were only married recently then, what a surprise, a gay cheating storyline once again.
Holby has gone from positive representation to promoting a long-existing stereotype of gay men not being committed and this, so close to their reckless storyline and the ending of Berena, all within six months.
I would rather they not bother at all with gay or LGBTQ characters if this is representation.
I have been in several long term relationships and have not cheated once. I am not alone and it was this week’s latest gay cheating storyline that angered me. I saw the reaction on twitter and after 14 loyal years of watching Holby I will now join the exodus. I am almost hoping there is now a collective LBGTQ boycott.
People have to make their own minds up and decide whether dramaneedsdrama is acceptable to justify the way Berena ended.
The audience numbers grew with Berena and this new audience has been betrayed.
It’s a shame as Patsy Kensit’s character is due to return and I will miss Jac Naylor and the humorous lines given to Serena but it’s tainted for me now. Tuesdays I used to call Tues Gays due to Holby. It’s been a major part of my life and I loved it and maybe I will heal and return to it, but for now it’s Au Revoir.