Watch: BBC cancels Holby City after more than two decades
More than 30,000 fans of the medical drama Holby City have signed a petition calling for BBC bosses to reverse their decision to cancel the show.
The broadcaster announced on Wednesday that the long-running show — a spin-off of Saturday night stalwart Casualty — would come to an end in March 2022 after 23 years.
Fans, though, have quickly expressed their disapproval at the decision, with tens of thousands flocking to the Change.org petition "Don’t scrap Holby City".
"The show has raised awareness about so many issues of value to the public — whether that's mental health, bereavement, exploring faith or sexuality," wrote petition creator Jon Rodd.
He added: "The pandemic has shown how highly the public value the NHS, and Holby City is an important representation of the work that the NHS does, and the issues the NHS and its staff and patients face."
In its statement announcing the cancellation, the BBC said it was "incredibly proud" of Holby City, noting the hundreds of awards the show has won since it began.
They 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."
Holby City debuted in 1999 and is set in the same hospital as Casualty, expanding the world of the hospital outside of the emergency unit which provides the focus for its parent show.
Over the years, Holby has featured dozens of household names in British TV, including Patsy Kensit, Ade Edmondson, Leslie Ash and Angela Griffin.
Along with many other long-running TV dramas, Holby City has been able to keep working during the pandemic, utilising innovative techniques in order to keep the cast safe while telling intimate stories.
During the early part of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, both Casualty and Holby City donated PPE and medical equipment to NHS staff.
Simon Harper, executive producer of Casualty and Holby City said: “Casualty and Holby City are all about celebrating NHS heroism, so we are only too happy to help out and do what we can for the courageous and selfless real life medics battling this situation."
The 23rd series of Holby City began airing in April and will run through to the final episode in March next year.
Watch: Holby City cast discuss challenges of pandemic era filming