|Holby City character|
Kaye Wragg as Essie Harrison
"My Name Is Joe"|
6 May 2014
|Portrayed by||Kaye Wragg|
|Aliases||Essie Di Lucca|
|Spouse(s)||Raf di Lucca (2017)|
|Significant other(s)||Sacha Levy|
|Relatives||Joe Goodridge (grandfather)|
Essie Harrison (also Di Lucca) is a fictional character from the BBC medical drama Holby City, played by actress Kaye Wragg. She first appeared in the series sixteen episode "My Name Is Joe", broadcast on 6 May 2014. Essie arrives at Holby City employed as an agency nurse working on the hospital's ED, AAU and Keller wards. She is characterised as an opinionated nurse who is not afraid to challenge the healthcare system. She is also played as a warm person who makes a good friend for fellow characters and strives to provide excellent patient care. Her introduction to the show was controversial and featured the discovery that her grandfather Joe Goodridge (Julian Glover) was an escaped Nazi war criminal.
Essie's main storylines have been centric to her relationship with registrar Sacha Levy (Bob Barrett). The show's producer Simon Harper was fond of the pairing but tasked his writing team to prolong a "will they / won't they?' dynamic" between them. Their romance is over-shadowed because Sacha and his family are Jewish and they struggle to accept her due to Joe's actions. Her need to have a child of her own also causes problems. Essie later secures a new role within the hospital as transplant coordinator. Wragg took a break from the series in March 2018 and returned in July.
Wragg's casting was publicised in February 2014. Wragg decided to accept the role because she liked Essie's introduction into the series. The character made her on-screen debut during the series sixteen episode "My Name Is Joe", which was broadcast on 6 May 2014. Wragg was originally employed by the show as a recurring cast member but was later invited back to play the role on a permanent basis.
|“||Gregarious and mischievous, Essie is warm, sparky and rebellious. As a nurse, she navigates the rough waters of a challenged healthcare system, doing everything she can to provide her patients with the best care possible, even if that means breaking the rules (and sometimes especially so – sticking it to sticklers gives her an insubordinate thrill).||”|
|— BBC Online.|
Essie is characterised as warm nurse with a rebellious side and is not afraid to challenge the healthcare system. She makes a great friend for other characters and a writer from BBC Online branded her "a rock". She is an independent female with "spontaneous, emboldening and fun" characteristics. Wragg has labelled Essie as having "a big heart" and being "fantastic" at her nursing job. The actress told Hannah Verdier from "TV Magazine" that she was enjoying playing the character. She explained that "Estelle's brilliant at her job and she's trying to get on with it, but now she's starting to question herself. She seems really sorted and then all these cracks appear, which makes her great to play." Essie is an opinionated character and does not shy away from voicing them in medical scenarios. Holby City writers clearly demonstrate this when she is played getting herself into trouble with hospital management for interfering with a high-profile patient's choice of surgery.
Essie is introduced into the show as the granddaughter of sick patient Joe Goodridge (Julian Glover). Wragg was happy that her character's arrival was not linked to nursing. While Joe is being treated on the ward junior doctor Zosia March (Camilla Arfwedson) becomes suspicious of his role in World War II and makes allegations against him. Zosia wants to discover the truth and prevents Joe from signing a form instructing doctors not to revive him. Essie notices the tension between the two but is relieved when Joe is revived. It is then revealed that he is an escaped Nazi war criminal which shocks Essie because she was completely unaware. Wragg told Katy Moon from Inside Soap that Essie and Joe's storyline was unusual and this attracted her to take the role. The story held consequences for Essie as she is forced to deal with the reality of her grandfather's past. Wragg explained "what you find out about Joe is very dramatic, and there are lots of layers for Essie to unravel." Essie was raised by Joe, so she considers him to be her hero and the revelation throws "Essie's world into complete disarray".
Holby City Producer Simon Harper personally decided to create the storyline because he had a European upbringing and studied the Holocaust extensively. He was particularly interested in stories of escaped war criminals and he believed it was inevitable that he would cover the subject during his career. Harper explained to a representative of the Holocaust Educational Trust, that Holby City thrives from stories of character's professional ethics being challenged by their personal demons. He noted that Joe's story worked well against pitted Jewish registrar Sacha Levy (Bob Barrett) having to treat a patient pretending to be "a sweet old man" despite him helping to kill Jews in World War II. The production team was also keen to portray antisemitism in the spotlight. Harper added Kate Verghese, the story producer, pitched the idea of a Jewish doctor being conflicted by a Nazi. Holocaust survivor Kitty Hart-Moxon visited the set to talk to cast and crew of the storyline's importance.
The storyline concluded on-screen as Sacha decided to cancel surgery on Joe because of his Jewish background, despite medical professionals being required to treat all patients equally regardless of their views. Joe's final scenes see Essie and Sacha witness him voicing hateful opninions about the Jewish community. Harper explained that a "final act of repentance" for the character would have been insulting to survivors. Essie is then offered a job at Holby City hospital and she develops a friendship with colleague Sacha. Wragg described their interactions as "lovely" and warned their "spark" could develop into a romance. Rosa Doherty from The Jewish Community said that it was an "unlikely bond" under the circumstances with her grandfather. But they added that the storyline had viewers "gripped" to the show. Essie begins working on the AAU ward. But the newspapers become aware of her situation and run the story. A writer for What's on TV stated that "Essie is plagued with guilt over Josef's past". Sacha decides to take Essie to Wales to escape the negative press attention. Sacha's Jewish mother Esther Levy (Frances Cuka) is furious and orders Sacha to stop seeing Essie.
—Wragg on Essie and Sacha's relationship. (2015)
When Wragg finished filming her original stint on Holby City, producers discussed the possibility of a future return. In October 2014, it was announced that Wragg had been asked to return to the show on a permanent basis. Daniel Kilkelly of Digital Spy reported that Essie would resume her nursing duties at the hospital and her relationship with Sacha. Of her return Wragg stated: "Essie is a such a layered character that I can't wait to see how things unfold once I return. She's a fantastic nurse with a big heart, but a broken life that leaves her unsure of who she is and where she's going. I adore working with Bob Barrett and am very excited to work alongside his big hearted Sacha again, ups and downs regardless. Essie returned to the show during the series seventeen episode titled "Squeeze the Pips" (7 April 2015). Essie's independent nature is sometimes a problem for Sacha because he likes to feel depended upon. Her "slatternly domestic ways" annoy him because it reminds him of his daughters. A BBC Online reporter also revealed that Essie secretly struggles to deal with Sacha's two demanding ex-wives and children.
When she returns Essie reveals that she slept with another man and Sacha no longer wants to be with her. Essie decides to convince Sacha they should be together. Wragg believed that Essie really loves Sacha and she makes him realise that they want the same things out of life, to be "settled and happy". Essie later secures a job as the hospital's new Transplant coordinator. The duo's relationship faces fresh problems when Sacha wants Essie to meet his children. She confides in friend and colleague Dominic Copeland (David Ames) that she is not ready. Essie is convinced that Sacha's Jewish family will not accept her because of her grandfather's past. Barrett told Katy Moon from Inside Soap that Sacha underestimates the situation when he asks her. He also does not consider how his relationship may effect his family. The actor added that Sacha needs to stop being possessive and give Essie some space. Sacha's Wragg told a What's on TV reporter that Essie knows it will be inevitable that Sacha's children will be a part of her life but she is not ready. She is enjoying having Sacha to herself in the early stages of their romance. The actress added "the idea of being the 'stepmum' is a bit frightening for her." Essie tries to make excuses not to see them and Dominic notices her reluctance and makes it more difficult for her to be dishonest. Essie realises she must tell Sacha the truth. Wragg added "Essie realises the situation isn't going to go away. She just wanted to enjoy being in love for a bit longer before the reality of family life kicked in." Essie decides to forget her doubts and go ahead with spending time with Sasha's family.
Months later on-screen Essie's feelings completely changed and she announces that she wants a baby. A What's on TV reporter said the development left Sacha "stunned". Wragg told Laura-Jayne Tyler of Inside Soap that the realisation was unexpected for Essie, but she is of the age and she realises the joy having children creates for women. The actress added that Essie is "madly in love with Sacha" and the physical need for a child takes over. Sasha had already been married twice and shares children with both ex-partners. Wragg believed Sacha has "the best of both worlds" and does not want to ruin his "fantastic" relationship with Essie. In an interview with Daniel Kilkelly of Digital Spy (October 2015), producer Simon Harper declared of his love for the pairing, but warned of his intention to develop the "will they / won't they?' dynamic" further. He explained that writers had planned "big questions" for them to face. The first questioning whether or not Essie has left having children too late in her life. The second being whether Sacha's family will ultimately be able to accept Essie.
Wragg took a break from the series in 2018 and Essie departed in the twentieth series episode "No Matter Where You Go, There You Are – Part Two", broadcast on 27 March 2018. Essie's exit was not announced before transmission and Sasha Morris of Daily Star reported that Essie had left the show, although Wragg confirmed on Twitter that it would just be a break, telling fans that Essie's story is "not quite over". The following month, she confirmed that she had taken a three month break from the show, and that Essie would return on-screen in either July or August 2018.
Essie returned in the episode "Into The Light" which aired on 11 July 2018 when she was admitted to Holby as a patient and was found to have ovarian cancer although Essie chose to undergo a hysterectomy in order to minimise the impact of the disease.
Tyler (Inside Soap) wrote that she and audiences "were thrilled" that Essie returned to the series. She noted that Essie and Sasha had a turbulent relationship, adding "it's not always been plain sailing for the pair." A writer from What's on TV similarly stated that "Essie and Sacha's relationship has certainly had its ups and downs."