Holby City gave Cameron Dunn's story the right ending

Sophie Dainty
·7-min read
Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

From Digital Spy

Holby City spoilers follow.

He's Dunn his worst, but tonight's Holby City episode marked the end of the road for killer Cameron. And it's about time too.

Nic Jackman's final scenes aired in Tuesday's (March 23) episode, which saw his evil alter ego get his long-awaited comeuppance when he was arrested by the police.

Since 2019, Cameron has slowly but surely become one of the show's most notorious villains, with a grand total of five victims under his belt (and that's excluding poor Ange, who he kidnapped earlier in the month – thankfully she's still alive and well).

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

He knew it was coming. We knew it was coming. But tonight's episode was a wholesome, satisfying conclusion to the show's story of the moment nonetheless. And one that was long possibly overdue.

Let's not forget that this plot actually dates all the way back to 2019, when Cameron let evil Evan Crowhurst die as revenge for stalking and raping his (then) friend Chloe Godard. It seems incomprehensible now, but there was actually a time when Cameron was simmering as a possible hero in Chloe's story, should she get a happy ending. The irony is that, nearly two years later, she would be the key to his downfall.

Cameron's actions at the start were questionable and, actually, very complex. It was wrong to let Evan die but it was hard to hate him given that his intentions were, seemingly, for the greater good. Evan was evil and had done so much worse. Fans had forgiven Ethan for a similar crime in Casualty. Surely they would this time, too? However, where Ethan lived and learned from his mistake, Cameron didn't. In fact, he almost began to thrive on it.

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

There were two major turning points that succeeded this: Bernie's off-screen death and Zav's tragic accident.

"Bernie dying was massive. It changed him and I don't think he ever recovered. He's a tragic character but he became irredeemable after that," Nic Jackman told Digital Spy.

"It's funny as when I first came into the show, Cameron was so different and everyone liked him, but then he turned into a monster. I did have some idea as there were key moments – like when he let Evan die: he just stepped back and didn't help him.

"He knew what he was doing. That was the big shift and ever since then he went in a darker and darker direction. "

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

Then came Zav's shocking death – and the guileful actions Cameron took to cover it up. Unprecedented delays because of the pandemic meant that this fairly vital twist struggled to gather momentum due to the production break that followed. It then appeared to get lost in the flood of other stories when the show eventually returned.

Nonetheless, Zav's demise appeared to awaken a beast in Cameron – and no crime was too small after that. By the time Holby got back on the straight and narrow after its extended summer break, Cameron had turned into a full-blown serial killer. And it's been a fairly quick descent from slightly obscure to full-blown ludicrousness ever since.

From killing a patient when a narcissistic stunt went wrong to making a mistake and pinning it on Skylar, to cold-bloodedly killing Bobby late last month, Cameron quickly became the cat with nine lives. He'd woven a tangled web and there was no way out of it. And yet, we were tuning in each week to see if there might be. It's been ghastly, gobsmacking and undeniably gripping. Really gripping. But we're watching a medical drama, not a thriller movie, and that's why Holby was right to park it here.

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

It's not hard to see why Holby's bosses made the decision to progress Cameron's story this way. A few years back, the show had a similar long-running story involving another murderous medic – yes, we are looking at you John Gaskell. Given the rave reviews and boost in ratings Gaskell's gripping trail of destruction delivered, no one can blame them for going for gold twice.

In doing so, some of the implausible contingencies in Cameron's story has sparked some concern from avid fans, who feel that the show has been hijacked by writers with highly creative imaginations. It's true – this has felt bonkers at times. However, when balanced with harder-hitting stories like Henrik's, Dom's and, up until recently, Kian's, is it really such an issue if Holby deviates from house style for certain stories?

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

Let's also not forget that Holby is quick to rise to the task of emphasising social commentary when issues in the wider world call for it. In the past year alone we've seen the show highlight problems with insufficient nursing funding, bed shortages and, most importantly, the uncompromising COVID episode set at the peak of the pandemic.

As a medical drama first and foremost, Holby has always, and will always, pay homage to the NHS in this way. But in a time when the wealth of entertainment options is endless and ever-changing, it seems reasonable that the writers would want to break out of the echo chamber every now and then in order to keep up with the increasing demands they face in 2021.

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

On the whole, Cameron's criminal reign has been highly entertaining. It has also offered us some escapism from the unavoidable, hard-hitting realities of the harrowing COVID scenes – which, despite its vital importance, would be a heavy watch without the more quixotic strands running alongside it. Nic (who, you'll be pleased to know, is a far cry from his alter ego in real life) has played an absolute blinder in his descent from awkward junior doctor to callous killer – creating a character we won't be forgetting in a hurry.

"I've loved playing him," Nic said. "It was really brave for a show like Holby to have a character who was this dark for this long. It's quite unusual to be given that in a show like this. I was really lucky, it was really meaty.

"I just got stuck in and I've loved playing the villain. It's nice now I am able to talk about it. There have been so many secrets I've had to keep for a long time, knowing how dark he goes. I am so glad we can finally have a chat about it!"

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

Like us, Nic also backed the decision to end the story where it did, saying: "It's right that the police took him away. Justice will be served and that's important with this kind of storyline." He's right, it is.

Unsurprisingly, Cameron's arrest will spark a refreshing change of direction in the episode format of late, rightfully allowing other stories and characters to come into focus instead. As for whether this is the last serial killer plot of its kind? We're not so sure.

That's because Holby has always been the more sudsy of the two BBC sister shows, and the shift into these more melodramatic, long-form, soapy-style stories has been deliberate. While it has, at times, taken us to the improbable points of hospital kidnaps and not one but two dangerous doctors in nearly as many years, it always comes back to its central premise of being a medical drama.

Cameron's story needed to come to a conclusion and it did. He's left big shoes to fill and we'll now be keeping our eyes peeled for Darwin's next deviator. But fewer murders and more medical dilemmas for a bit before then, please.

Holby City continues on Tuesday, March 30 at 7.50pm on BBC One.

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