|Holby City character|
|First appearance||"More Equal Than Others"
8 November 2005
|Created by||Richard Stokes|
|Portrayed by||Paul Bradley|
|Occupation||Clinical Lead (2005–06, 2011–)
Consultant cardiothoracic surgeon
Professor of medicine (2012–)
|Spouse(s)||Gina Hope (until 2006)|
|Significant other(s)||Anne-Marie, Lady Byrne
Professor Elliot Hope MBBS, OBE is a fictional character from the BBC medical drama television series Holby City, portrayed by actor Paul Bradley. The character first appeared on 8 November 2005 in the episode "More Equal Than Others" - series eight, episode four of the programme. Elliot was introduced as a consultant surgeon and Clinical Lead on Holby General's cardiothoracic surgery ward. His storylines have seen his wife Gina, a Motor Neurone Disease-sufferer, commit assisted suicide, and his relationship with his children subsequently deteriorate. Elliot considered suicide himself, before reconciling with his family. He ended a brief romance with colleague Lady Byrne as he was still mourning Gina, and later shared a kiss with his old friend Tara Sodi.
Bradley was cast in the role after originally auditioning for a more minor part, and impressing executive producer Richard Stokes. He observed real heart surgery being performed in preparation for the role, and bases his portrayal of Elliot on his own father, who was a doctor. Elliot is portrayed as "a disorganised genius" and "a medical Columbo". He was the focus of Holby City's 2007 Christmas episode, based on the 1964 film It's a Wonderful Life. The assisted suicide storyline proved controversial, though the Elliot-centric Christmas episode was generally well received by critics. The Times's David Chater called it "highly effective in what it sets out to do", though Robert Hanks of The Independent deemed it "incompetent to the point of sacrilege".
Elliot was introduced to Holby City in November 2005 as the new Clinical Lead of the hospital's cardiothoracic surgery ward. Paul Bradley was cast in the role, having auditioned for a smaller part and impressed executive producer Richard Stokes, who asked him to audition for a longer-term character. Bradley met with the show's producers, who offered him the role of Elliot on the spot. His casting was announced in June 2005, when series producer Emma Turner commented: "The man is a great surgeon but his shambolic appearance and eccentric manner will cause the highly-political Connie's feathers to become ruffled. Elliott is a devoted family man who absorbs the pain he sees around him - but there will always be a price to pay."
As research for the role, Bradley observed three operations at the University College London Heart Hospital, an experience he described as "amazing" and a privilege to attend. Bradley's father was a doctor in Nuneaton, and he attempts to emulate him onscreen through his portrayal of Elliot. Bradley has described his first few weeks on Holby City as amongst the hardest acting experiences he has ever had, due to the medical terminology, props and procedures associated with the role.
Jim Shelly of The Mirror commented unfavourably on the "horrible inevitability" of Bradley's casting, as he had previously portrayed Nigel Bates in the BBC soap opera EastEnders. Shelley noted a trend for former EastEnders and Channel 4 soap Brookside actors being cast in Holby City. The show is filmed at Elstree Studios, where EastEnders is also filmed. Bradley has commented that it is "strange" making the same journey to a different show, and has noted differences between Elliot and his EastEnders character Nigel in that Elliot has a "better wardrobe" and is more intelligent. He has also commented that working on Holby City is "harder" than EastEnders, as the show is filmed with a single-camera set-up which takes longer, and there are "more things to go wrong" when working with medical props and simulating operations.
Elliot is described on the BBC Online Holby City homepage as "a disorganised genius" who "comes across as a bumbling eccentric" but has surgical expertise which is "second to none". Bradley has deemed Elliot "a medical Columbo", who is "shambling, untidy but good with patients and a genius medically", as well as "a brilliant surgeon who does everything in an off-the-wall way." He has been described as "genial" by The Mirror's Shelley, while fellow Mirror critic Jane Simon has deemed him "shambling" and "not the most convincing medic we've ever seen". Comparing Elliot to fellow cardiothoracic consultant Connie Beauchamp (Amanda Mealing), Bradley explained: "Connie is text book brilliant, whereas Elliot is more inspired. He may seem eccentric but he really listens to his patients - he's very straight forward and not at all stuck up. They are chalk and cheese. Connie's side of the office is very neat and tidy. But Elliot's is a total mess. She's quite uptight, and anybody as relaxed as Elliot really gets on her nerves." On 17 November 2006, Bradley appeared as Elliot in a Children in Need segment featuring the Holby City cast performing a version of "Hung Up" by Madonna.
Elliot's wife Gina suffers from Motor Neurone Disease. An October 2006 storyline saw her travel to a clinic in Switzerland, where euthanasia is legal. The assisted suicide storyline was the first time the subject had been addressed in a soap. Gillian Bevan, who plays Gina, explained: "Gina can't bear to be a burden to her husband any longer. She is adamant that Elliot wouldn't understand her decision." Although Elliot comes to understand Gina's decision, and is by her side as she dies, his relationship with his children becomes strained as a result. Sam Stockman, who plays Elliot's son James, explained in October 2007: "[James] still blames Elliot for helping his Mum die and then just posting her suicide note to him, which was the first he heard about her death".
The Holby City 2007 Christmas episode, "Elliot's Wonderful Life", was a reimagining of the 1964 film It's a Wonderful Life featuring Elliot, and guest-starring Richard Briers as his guardian angel. It was filmed in North London over three weeks. Series producer Diana Kyle described the episode as Elliot "go[ing] on a major emotional journey and tak[ing] time to reassess his life". Bradley explained: "Elliot goes into this complete breakdown and decides to kill himself", and discussed Elliot's motivation in considering suicide: "Something in his brain snaps. He's overworked and emotionally overwrought." He explained that, while the episode is based on It's a Wonderful Life: "the screen doesn't go wobbly so you know you're in fantasy world. It's played very straight. There are some really interesting things going on - angels in the corridors and nobody knows who this old man is. But it's not all doom and gloom, there's humour in there and it's a bit of an adventure." Bradley was pleased to work with Briers, commenting: "Richard has always been a hero of mine. He's an actor I've always wanted to be like. We got on so well; we were exhausted from laughing!" Briers added of the storyline: "It's extraordinary to pinch a marvellous idea from a great film."
Elliot arrives at Holby General in episode "More Equal Than Others", when it is revealed he has beaten cardiothoracic consultant Connie Beauchamp to the position of Clinical Lead. He later steps down from this position in order to spend more time with his wife, Gina (Gillian Bevan), who has Motor Neurone Disease and goes on to end her life by euthanasia, with Elliot by her side. Elliot's relationship with his children, James (Sam Stockman) and Martha (Holly Lucas), is strained following their mother's suicide. James goes missing, causing Elliot to worry his son has also committed suicide, before returning from Bangkok with a heroin addiction. He becomes involved in gang violence and is shot. Although he recovers, Martha is resentful when Elliot refuses to attend his trial, where James is given a 12-month suspended sentence. When Martha is shot with a crossbow, Elliot considers suicide, but ultimately decides against it and his family reconciles. Elliot has a brief romance with Lady Byrne (Jane Asher), the mother of his registrar Joseph (Luke Roberts), however he ends the relationship as he is still mourning Gina.
Martha leaves Holby to attend university, returning two years later having married in Las Vegas without telling her father. Elliot is upset, so Martha plans a picnic at which Elliot can get to know her new husband Ben (Oliver Boot) better. At the picnic, Elliot's dog Samson is run over by an ambulance, resulting in a pneumothorax. Elliot operates on Samson in a basement theatre, and he makes a full recovery. When Ben confides in Elliot that he is experiencing on-going health problems, he initially agrees not to tell Martha, not wanting her to worry. Martha later learns Ben is in the early stages of Sarcoidosis and will be blind within months. Relating his own experience of Gina's failing health, Elliot advises Martha to leave Ben, and ultimately they break up.
When Martha arranges a surprise party for Elliot's 50th birthday, he is re-introduced to an old friend from university, Tara Sodi (Meera Syal). He and Tara formerly performed pioneering heart surgery together, but their patient died. Tara attempts to convince Elliot to try their technique again. Elliot initially refuses, but later changes his mind. The operation is successful, and Tara is offered a full-time contract at Holby General. When Tara revives a patient with a DNR order against his wishes, tension arises between her and Elliot over the issue of euthanasia, with Tara unaware of the circumstances of Gina's death. Despite this, Elliot convinces her to sign her contract, and the two share a kiss.
In later years, Elliot mentors both Penny (Emma Catherwood) and her brother Oliver Valentine (James Anderson). He becomes very friendly with Penny, and is devastated when she is killed trying to save a patient's life. He tries to help Oliver overcome his grief. Elliot's job is threatened when Henrik Hanssen (Guy Henry) attempts to merge Darwin Ward with the heart surgery ward at St. James' hospital, but he puts an end to the plans and Elliot keeps his job. He becomes determined to see the scientific project he has worked off for many years, the Hertzig (an electronic heart), into practise, and is delighted when he finds a potential patient. However, the patient withdraws their consent at the last minute, and Elliot risks his career by putting it in anyway. There are complications and the patient later dies.
Elliot trains a new F1, Tara Lo (Jing Lusi), when she comes to Darwin, and becomes close with her. A second potential Hertzig patient arrives on Darwin, and he and Tara successfully use the Hertzig on her; however, a number of months later, she returns to the ward with problems and soon dies. Tara is devastated, and she reveals to Elliot that she has a brain tumour and the Hertzig trial made that very real. Elliot keeps the information from Oliver, who is Tara's boyfriend. When he finds out, he lashes out at Elliot for not telling him. Tara's tumour starts evolving again, and Elliot brings in a brain surgeon to operate on her. However, he, Oliver and the entire world are devastated when there are complications and she passes away. Elliot becomes deeply worried for Oliver, who married Tara the night before her death, and tries to help him despite being knocked back by the F1 over and over again. In the end, Oliver leaves Holby City on good terms with him.
Elliot starts a relationship with Oliver's psychiatrist, Sharon Kozinsky (Madeleine Potter), and they becomes serious until Sharon gets an exciting job offer in America. Although he originally plans to take sabbatical and visit America with her, he decides it is a step too far and says goodbye to her.
Bradley was named 20th "Best Actor" in the 2006 BBC Drama Awards for his role as Elliot. He was longlisted for the 2007 National Television Awards, but was not shortlisted. The storyline which saw Elliot's wife Gina commit assisted suicide was the subject of a Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail debate. Rachel Pickering, a GP and hospice doctor from Greenwich, opined that the storyine was to be "condemned". She criticized Gina's dying words: "I want to be allowed to die with dignity", suggesting that The Voluntary Euthanasia Society has "hijacked" the word "dignity" in changing its name to Dignity In Dying. Pickering wrote that, in her own experience, the majority of MND patients die peaceful natural deaths. She was opposed by two correspondents, Lena Pycroft of London and Ray Knight of Thaxted. Pycroft congratulated the BBC for "[bringining] into sharp relief the appalling dilemma facing terminally ill patients", while Knight commended: "The most telling point in the Holby City episode was that, having made the decision, the patient was happier and more relaxed - a fact repeatedly confirmed in real life. Is it not time our legislation reflected that?" A Holby City spokeswoman defended the storyline, stating: "Throughout every stage of the process, the production team and scriptwriters have worked very closely with researchers, advisors, expert medical professionals and specialist support societies, all from the field of motor neurone disease. Every part of the story, emotional and medical, was checked and discussed. This is a powerful, heartwrenching story that will challenge our audience."
The Times's David Chater commented positively on the episode "Elliot's Wonderful Life", writing that: "Holby City fans will love this episode [...] It is highly effective in what it sets out to do, although – like so much television at Christmas – you need to drink a pint of warm Baileys for the full effect." The episode was selected as recommended viewing by several TV critics, including Dydd Iau of the Liverpool Daily Post, and Roz Laws of the Sunday Mercury, who noted: "It sounds a bit strange, but there's snow, carols and an uplifting happy ending for a change." The Mirror's Maeve Quigley called it "a timeless story", though questioned the plausibility of a world in which Elliot's patients went untreated, as "the NHS isn't a one- man band after all". In contrast, Robert Hanks of The Independent reviewed the episode negatively, calling it "incompetent to the point of sacrilege". Hanks wrote: "What it did add to the mix, that James Stewart never achieved, was to give the viewer an authentic frisson of empathy: there was a point towards the end - during an encounter with Elliot's miraculously resurrected, motor-neurone-disease-afflicted yet remarkably soignee and articulate wife - when I began to see never having been born as preferable, sometimes, to prime-time TV."
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