Holby City ending: what happened to Jac Naylor, final episode spoilers, and why was the series cancelled?

Rosie Marcel who plays Jac Taylor made a touching tribute to the show as it came to an end

After 23 years on air, BBC medical drama Holby City has come to an end with an emotional finale which paid tribute to the NHS.

Any Holby City fans that haven’t watched the final episode yet which aired on Tuesday (29 March) evening, beware, for there are spoilers ahead.

For everyone else - this is everything you need to know.

What happened in the finale?

Holby City came to an end with an episode focusing on fan favourite character Jac Naylor, played by Rosie Marcel, who, since returning to the hospital last year, has been battling an inoperable brain tumour.

After finding out that Elliot Hope (played by Paul Bradley) and his team had to stop the operation on her tumour, Jac told Fletch (Alex Walkinshaw) to write her a do-not-resuscitate order.

While there was a glimmer of hope that the operation could be successful if they gave it another go, Jac ultimately decided not to go ahead with it. She said that she was tired, and maintained that she didn’t want to continue to live at the expense of sacrificing her dignity by losing her bodily functions.

Rosie Marcel has starred as Jac Naylor on Holby City since 2005 (Photo: BBC)

Shortly after, Jac suffered from a stroke and while Sacha Levy (Bob Barrett) and Max McGerry (Jo Martin) were ready to cart her into the operating theatre, Fletch revealed Jac’s Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment (ADRT), and declared her as brain-dead.

But even in death, Jac was able to save the lives of others one last time, as her organs were donated to different patients around the country, giving viewers one last chance to see some of their favourite characters that had departed from the show.

Her spleen is given to Ric Griffin (Hugh Quarshie) and her kidney to another hospital where Serena and Bernie (Catherine Russell and Jemma Redgrave), or #Berena, as fans have dubbed them, are located.

Henrik Hanssen (Guy Henry) accompanied her liver to Leeds, where he is reunited with surgeon Russ Faber (Simon Slater).

Other cameos of familiar faces also included Chizzy Akudolu as Mo Effanga and Luke Ruberts as Joseph Byrne.

Elsewhere in the hospital, Nicky McKendrick (Belinda Owusu) was able to perform her first surgery on a beating heart successfully, and Dom Copeland (David Ames) was able to smooth things over with his biological mother, Ange Godard (Dawn Steele).

Holby City began as a spin-off of it’s fellow medical drama Casualty (Photo: BBC)

In a voiceover at the end of the episode, Jac said: “It took me a long time to find a place I belonged, somewhere to call home.

“It wasn’t with my mother or the carers she dumped me with. It certainly wasn’t with any man.

“It was when I first walked into a theatre and breathed in that rarefied air, realising my hands could save lives. I knew then on day one I had found my place in the world. Somewhere I belonged.

“This is what the NHS means to us.

“It’s not a badge on a cabinet minister’s lapel, it’s not a number down the side of a bus. It’s a nurse missing her break to sit with a lonely patient.

“It’s a surgeon grinding out a 15-hour op. The sound of sirens coming to the rescue, Thursday night applause floating across the rooftops.

“It’s all of us doing the best we can in impossible circumstances.

“It’s something to believe in. It’s home.”

As the episode drew to a close, the final shot showed the hospital with the words “Thank you” and “NHS Holby City” projected onto the building.

What has Rosie Marcel said about the show ending?

Speaking to Inside Soap, Rosie Marcel, who has played Jac since 2005, said: “The final episodes I think are some of the best we’ve ever done.

“Our show has been incredible throughout the years, but because we had this decision forced upon us, it made us go, “Sod them - we’re going to do this to the best of our ability,” and we’ve delivered something outstanding.

“We should always be up for awards - BAFTAs, NTAs, Inside Soap Awards, and if it’s going to be any year it needs to be this one, because we have pulled out all the stops. After 23 years on telly, we bloody deserve it.”

Ahead of the final episode, Marcel paid tribute to the drama with a post on Instagram, sharing pictures with her co-stars Bob Barrett and Paul Bradley.

She wrote in the caption: “These are a few of my favourite things... Well peeps. Does that work??? The gorgeous Bob who will always be my dearest friend.

“The incredible @ptjb for just being him and what means being incredibly supportive and loving. And Alex Walkinshaw. Couldn’t have done it without him.”

What have the cast said about Holby City ending?

Many of the Holby City cast, both past and present, took to Twitter to say goodbye to the show as the final episode aired.

Belinda Owusu, who played Nicky McKendrick, wrote: “Bye Holby.. Bye Darwin.. Bye Nicky. Beyond grateful to have been a part of the magic.”

David Ames, who played Dominic Copeland, tweeted: “Bloody hell I’m so proud of this show and everything we’ve represented and done.”

David Ames stars as Dominic Copeland in the medical drama (Photo: BBC)

Catherine Russell, who reprised her role as Serena Campbell, tweeted a series of photos from her time on the show, adding: “It really was like family.”

While Dawn Steele, who plays Ange Godard, tweeted: “Thank you, what an amazing job it was. So sad. What a message though – thank you NHS.”

Lucinda Dryzek, who played Jac Naylor’s sister Jasmine Burrows, posted: “To all the Holby family, you really were the best. And you will be truly missed. And I’m so grateful to have been a part of it.”

Chizzy Akudolu, who played Mo Effanga, tweeted: “This is actually breaking my heart. Holby meant to much to so many people, including me. I’m in bits. Didn’t think it would affect me like this… #holbycity.”

Casualty bosses also issued a statement commemorating the end of its spin-off show Holby City.

On Instagram, the official Casualty account posted: “It breaks our hearts that our beloved sister show, Holby City, has ended tonight.

“For 20 years we have loved sharing our hospital with our friends in Elstree.

“Like many of the British public we have laughed, cried and been thoroughly entertained by the great characters of Keller, Darwin and beyond.

“We will miss you Holby City and we pay tribute to our many great colleagues who have poured their hearts into the success of your show.

“We are proud to keep the Holby City flag flying and promise to keep telling heart wrenching, urgent and entertaining stories for the sake of both shows.”

Why was the series cancelled?

For fans of the series, the end of Holby City has been a long time coming, as it was announced back in June 2021.

In a statement, the BBC said: “We sometimes have to make difficult decisions to make room for new opportunities and as part of the BBC’s commitment to make more programmes across the UK, we have taken the difficult decision to bring the show to a close in order to reshape the BBC’s drama slate to better reflect, represent and serve all parts of the country.”

After 23 years on the air, Holby City has been axed by the BBC (Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Piers Wenger, Director of BBC Drama, also told What to Watch: “It was an incredibly difficult decision that took time to come to. We had clear direction on wanting to make more drama across the UK.

“We had EastEnders, Holby in the south and Casualty in Wales.

“We need dramas to better reflect life in the north of England which is why we’ve chosen to bring back Waterloo Road.”

Where can I watch the final episode?

If you want to catch up on the final episode, you can do so on the BBC iPlayer website.

You can watch all of the episodes in the final season, season 23, and the finale episode of season 22, however earlier episodes are not available on the BBC iPlayer.