S18 E5 ‘Flash in the Pan’ – S23 E6 ‘There and Back Again’
F Grade Mental Health Nurse
John ‘Abs’ Denham has a certain charm but is a bit of an oddball. The breakdown in hierarchy at NHS hospitals means that he is able to diagnose and treat certain patients, despite not having medical training. Abs, was a bit of a tearaway as a child and was arrested for joyriding. On one occasion, he took his younger brother with him without his parent’s knowledge and crashed; his brother ended up paralysed and Abs has not spoken to his parents since. Now Abs is fascinated by anybody with mental problems or issues. He is a loner and is driven and passionate about his work but doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
His first shift is in S18 E5; as he seemingly arrives and sets to work immediately. Later in the day, a second nurse, also called Abs, presents himself at reception. Tess is confused and resolves to discover the identity of the real nurse Abs. She finds out that a psychiatric patient of the genuine Abs has stolen his identity and is trying to pass himself off as a nurse. Eventually the situation is resolved as Abs proves himself with great professionalism. He even manages to win Tess’s approval, despite emptying the store cupboard and claiming it as his office. In S18 E6, manic patient Sarah Jensen causes disruption and Tess gets impatient. Abs detects a cry for help, however, and invests time in calming her down. But he later doubts his competence when she overdoses on lithium tablets and ends up in intensive care. In S18 E17, Abs is on a mission to reunite two children with their mother, after discovering that her husband is not the caring father he first appeared. In S18 E19, Abs provides the MS sufferer with a dealer’s number, but next episode in S18 E20, he faces being struck off when his earlier suggestion of marijuana as a pain alleviator comes back to haunt him. In S18 E22, a former doctor, renamed the “angel of death”, is brought to the hospital from prison and asks Abs to increase her medication to a lethal amount. In S18 E25, foster mum Lesley struggles to care for her foster daughter, Charlene, who is extremely defensive and angry and has harmed herself with a broken bottle. Lesley is at her wit’s end and does not know what to do. She feels let down by the systems in place that are meant to help. Abs draws on his own experience and expertise to get through to Charlene and work through her behavioural problems, which stem from a fear of turning out like her alcoholic mother. In S18 E27, Percy Miles is brought in, after being found collapsed in his car. He is faking unconsciousness and Abs becomes suspicious of his suspected suicide attempt after he admits to be abusing his grand daughter. He later overdoses on anti-depressants. The father of the abused child arrives and threatens to shock him with electric pads; Abs tells him that if he dies, Percy will get what he wants and won’t have to face his punishment. In S18 E32, Tess and Jim are furious at Abs when a past patient returns as a consequence of Abs’s misleading advice. In S18 E33, Abs allows a local journalist, Stevie Bishop, more access than he should and is disappointed when he realises he has been deceived. In S18 E34, an angry father blames Abs for his child’s death, having seen his picture in the paper after the epilepsy incident. The father lashes out and leaves Abs unconscious in a pool of his own blood. In S18 E35, Abs returns to work following his beating. Tess notices confidence is low and suggests he finishes his shift early. Simon takes speed when he has a tough day at work. After run-ins with both Lara and Jim, he goes AWOL. Lara and Abs find him passed out at home after taking sleeping tablets. A discarded packet of speed is lying by his side. Lara begs Abs to keep quiet. In S18 E37, Simon is finding it hard to give up the drugs and is tired and irritable at work. He makes an error with a patient and owns up, asking the patient not to report him. Lara is finding it difficult to help Simon and confides in Abs that she does not know if she can go through it alone. Abs recommends that Simon get professional help but Lara knows he will never agree to this. In S18 E38, Harry questions Abs about a patient on whom Simon had previously made a mistake. Abs confirms it was Simon’s error but Lara lies, saying it was hers. Abs is annoyed but Lara reminds him that Simon has covered for him and suggests he owes it to Simon to keep quiet. In S18 E39, Simon continues to be irritable and disorientated at work. When Abs points out that this is starting to affect Lara, Simon decides to come clean with Harry about his drug problem, though Lara tries to dissuade him. In S18 E43, Simon asks Abs to be the best man and he starts to make stag night arrangements. He also treats a suicidal man, who threatens to crash into a wall in the car they are both in; Abs manages to prevent this. In S18 E44, Simon is still finding it hard to cope with Harry watching his every move, and Lara breaks down infront of Simon, telling him she does not know if she can trust him. A worried Abs goes to talk to Simon about Lara and catches him with a pack of pills. Simon insists he was going to throw them away but Abs tells him he is selfish and letting Lara down. In S18 E45, Simon is not impressed when Lara and the rest of the hen party turn up at the stag night venue. Although Lara pretends it was a coincidence, Simon soon realises that she came to check up on him. A frustrated Simon goes into the toilets to take drugs but is caught by Abs. Simon leaves and turns up at the house of a woman he met at the hospital earlier that day. Nina chats up Abs at the party. They hit it off but she has to leave him to go with the ‘hens’ to another club. In S18 E46, it is the day of the wedding and Abs arrives at Simon’s house, only to catch him with the woman he met last week. Abs is outraged but a defensive Simon throws him out. Stuck for a best man, Simon asks Jim to stand in – and Jim reveals that he will be flying Simon to the wedding. Meanwhile Abs confides in Nina over telling Lara about Simon’s infidelity. He then rushes to the wedding to tell Lara about the other woman and, while Jim is flying Simon to the venue, a distraught Lara phones Simon to call everything off. In frustration, Simon takes out a packet of pills which he drops under Jim’s seat; causing the plane to crash. Simon is caught in the explosion. His colleagues rush over and battle to save him; Abs willing him to live.
In S19 E1, Abs discovers that a woman, Mel, who says she is bruised from a drunken night out, was in fact raped. He persuades her to have a medical examination so that she has the option to report the crime at a later date. In the second part episode of S19 E2, when one of the missing children Adam is brought in, Abs notices that he has the same distinctive bruising that Mel did. Both had been tied with copper wire. Abs tells Tess he thinks the rapist also abducted Adam. Tess bursts into the examination room and shouts at Mel, telling her to help the police or Kayleigh may never be found. In S19 E3, Nina is traumatised by the previous week’s events and arranges to stay at Abs’s place for the night to take her mind off things. They are about to kiss when a surprise visitor interrupts them – her step sister Ellen from the Ukraine, who is about to start work at the hospital. In S19 E4, it’s Ellen’s first day at work and she settles in well, but it’s obvious that her relationship with her step-sister, Nina, is strained. Ellen hints to Abs that she has nowhere to live and, much to Nina’s annoyance, he offers her his spare room for a few days. In S19 E5, Nina is still frustrated with Ellen, especially as everyone else seems to like her. She arranges to have a quiet night in with Abs and they are about to kiss when Ellen turns up at the door. Nina is furious and tells them both to leave. In S19 E6, Abs tries to talk to Nina about last week, but she is still annoyed and thinks that Ellen is manipulating him. Later Ellen tells Abs she will have to go home soon due to a lack of money. She breaks down, telling him she can’t go back to her father – he abuses her. In S19 E7, Abs hints to Nina that Ellen’s father abuses her. Nina is enraged and calls Ellen a liar. However, she wants to sort things out with Abs and invites him to go bowling with her that night but Jim, Selena and Ellen end up coming along, too. A tearful Ellen tries to leave, saying she is not in the mood to have fun. Abs tries to talk to her but Ellen kisses him, just as Nina walks in. In S19 E8, Abs plays a joke on new SHO Guppy – telling him lies about all the staff, including that Harry is deaf in one ear and Tess is an alcoholic. Guppy finds out that Abs is lying when he confronts Tess about her drinking. Abs speaks to Nina, telling her how much he likes her and that she misunderstood the situation with Ellen. Nina replies that if they are to stand a chance together he must tell Ellen to move out. When Abs tells Ellen the news she says that her work visa is running out and she will soon be deported to back her father in the Ukraine. In S19 E9, Ellen tells Abs not to tell anyone about the problems with her work visa; she would rather deal with it on her own. Later, at the bar, Ellen tells Abs there is one way he could help her to stay in the country: marry her. In S19 E10, Abs makes a mistake when he gives a patient the wrong injection, leading him to have a cardiac arrest. Ellen later covers for him when they are questioned by Selena. Abs is grateful but tells her this has not affected his decision to marry her. She is devastated. In S19 E11, Abs tells Ellen that he is sorry he cannot marry her and confesses to Nina about the proposal. She confronts Ellen and calls her selfish, but Ellen tells Nina to mind her own business and is annoyed with Abs for breaking her confidence. In S19 E12, Harry questions Abs and Ellen about the patient who went into cardiac arrest last week. Abs wants Ellen to corroborate his version of events but, when he discovers her crying about her visa problems, she says she is not sure that she should lie for him. Abs says that he will not be blackmailed – but later tells Ellen he will marry her. In S19 E13, Ellen tries to discuss wedding arrangements with Abs, who tells her he wishes they did not have to marry. Later, he tells Nina, who is shocked that he believed Ellen’s lies about the abuse. Nina confronts Ellen and calls her selfish, and says she has always wanted to have everything of Nina’s. Later, Ellen announces to the department that she is marrying Abs. In S19 E14, Claire quizzes Abs about his engagement to Ellen. Abs tells her the real reason they are marrying is so she can get her VISA. In S19 E15, Abs catches Sam on the ward helping a patient with a bloody nose. Sam is tilting the man’s head back and Abs shouts at him, telling him he should not be looking after patients and that his actions are making the man’s condition worse. Tess overhears, but Sam says he does not care about the job and is going for a break. When Tess asks Abs not to say anything about Sam, and says that she will deal with him, Abs relents. In S19 E16, It is the wedding day, Abs and Ellen have arranged to have a simple affair at a registry office. Abs asks Nina to be the witness, Nina tells Abs he is making a big mistake but she agrees to come. Nina later tells Claire the real reason that Abs and Ellen are marrying – Ellen is blackmailing him. Jim and Selena decide to organise a surprise party for Abs and Ellen. Woody picks the couple up from the registry office in a horse and carriage and takes them to a plush hotel where the rest of the team are waiting. They make sure Ellen feels at home by organising some Ukrainian wedding traditions. An upset Nina leaves the party, and Claire finds her in the toilet crying. Abs and Ellen go up to the honeymoon suite that the team have booked for them. Ellen makes a move on Abs, but he is shocked telling her the wedding was a business arrangement. Ellen warns him that they cannot see other people as they need to pretend their relationship is real. Abs walks out of the room and goes to the hotel bar. He sees a tearful Nina and they talk, but when Abs tries to kiss her Nina rejects him saying she refuses to be his mistress. In S19 E18, Abs tells Ellen to hurry up and fill in her work visa forms so their charade can end. Abs tries to talk to Nina, but she says she will only talk to him on a professional level. Later, Abs is asked to attend to a patient that is trapped in a car. He works with Nina, who is surprised to see him there. The atmosphere is frosty but improves as they work together. Ellen tells Abs she will stay behind at work to fill in the forms. Abs invites Nina round to talk and he tells her that he is finding pretending to be in love with Ellen near impossible. Nina tells Abs to stop talking and kiss her. He moves in for a passionate clinch, but Ellen bursts in crying. She tells Abs that to get her visa she must go back to the Czech Republic for three months. In S19 E19, Ellen has been up all night worrying about going back to the Ukraine. Abs offers to go with her to a meeting with immigration services but she declines. At work Abs persuades Tess to let Ellen finish early so she can make the meeting, he then gives her money to take a cab there. That evening, he finds Ellen crying in the flat. Abs says that is if will help her he will go to the Ukraine with her. She tells him she did not go to the meeting – the reason she is upset is that her father phoned her earlier. He is coming to England for a business meeting and he wants to see her. In S19 E20, Ellen and Abs discuss the arrival of her father Gustav the following day. She will be meeting him as he has finally tracked her down. Abs says she does not have to as her father is a monster. Later in his shift, Nina tells Abs that Ellen is having dinner with Gustav now. Nina realises Abs did not know as he rushes out. Abs storms into the flat and drags Gustav off away from Ellen, saying he is dangerous. Gustav explains that Ellen is terrified of returning home as she will be thrown in jail. Gustav tells how Ellen stole money from his business partner and he then smuggled her out of the country and that if she returns she will be arrested. Abs explains to Gustav how Ellen had told him that he had abused her as a child, Ellen denies saying this but Nina confirms it. Ellen realises she has been caught out and Abs realises that he is the victim. In S19 E21, Nina turns up at Abs’s house and tells him she knew nothing about Ellen’s fraud, but he does not want to talk. At work Abs still will not speak with Nina. Nina confronts Ellen who tells her that she had to lie to Abs or she would have gone to prison. Nina warns Ellen to stay away from them. Ellen speaks to Abs and says that she never actually said her father was abusing her – he assumed it. Abs tells her she was wrong for letting him think that. Claire asks Nina what is going on with Ellen and Abs, she tells her that Abs has found out that Ellen was lying. Later that evening, Abs comes home to find Ellen cooking his favourite meal. She tries to talk to him again but he tells her that he cannot bear to look at her. Ellen says she wants them to have a real marriage. An incredulous Abs says that this is impossible and he wishes he had never met her. She retorts that he has no idea how difficult her life has been and blames him for letting himself be conned. He looses his temper, grabs her things, pushes her out of the front door and throws her onto the street. In S19 E22, Tess finds Ellen sleeping in the locker room, she tells her that Abs has thrown her out. Abs tells Ellen to stop playing the victim, she admits that she took advantage of him but that she loves him and wants a second chance. A young Russian woman is admitted who cannot speak English. Ellen has to translate, but Abs becomes suspicious of her translation as the woman is hysterical. Abs finds out that the woman was forced to work in a brothel against her will and was begging Ellen for help. She said nothing because she did not want immigration officers to come to the hospital. Abs is disgusted that Ellen was willing to send the woman back to her fate to protect herself. Abs tells her – it is over! In S19 E23, Abs tells Ellen he is going to inform the immigration services about her – even if it means he must go to prison. Nina finds out and begs him not to – she says she loves him and does not want him to go to jail. Abs is shocked, he says he loves her too but he must do the right thing and report Ellen. Tess breaks down to Abs about Sam. She tells him she thinks he has a mental illness. Abs comforts her and says he will go and see Sam the next day. In S19 E24, Abs goes to see Sam at his house, he is clearly deluded and is hearing voices. Abs tries to tell Tess but she is in denial – believing he is acting like a normal teenager. In S19 E26, Ellen is still missing, Abs gets fed up with everyone asking him where she is. An immigration official comes to see him and questions him on her whereabouts. Abs tells her they had an argument and he does not know where she is. The woman tells Abs that they are looking into her case and if they find anything untoward the penalty will be severe – prison. In S19 E28, Abs and Nina are both interviewed by immigration officers. Abs lies, saying that Ellen was the love of his life and that is why they rushed into marriage. He relays this to Nina, but says it is her he loves. In S19 E29, Abs warns Nina that they need to be discreet. Luke almost catches them kissing in Abs’s office. Later, Nina tells Luke that Abs only married Ellen to help her out of a fix. That night, Abs has prepared a romantic meal for Nina but a surprise visitor arrives. The man claims that Ellen owes £15,000 – so now Abs will have to pay him back. He demands the first instalment of £5,000 next week. In S19 E30, Abs calls the loan shark, Ian, and asks him to meet him that night about the flat to talk about the money he owes. Later, Abs is shocked to see the man waiting in reception for him. Abs tells him he cannot pay the money – but Ian warns him he must pay up. In S19 E31, Abs is feeling the pressure from the loan shark. He’s so desperate that he almost does the unthinkable and steals a dead patient’s money. He shares his dilemma with Nina who makes her feelings very clear: if he stoops that low, he’s on his own. Abs ends up handing in the money and taking Nina up on her more law abiding suggestion to save some cash; moving into the communal house with her and Claire. In S19 E32, Abs and Nina return home to find they’ve been robbed by Ian. He calls, saying he’s taken what he wanted – for now. In S19 E33, Abs tries to raise the money for the Ian but cannot get the cash and is beaten up. In S19 E34, Ian tells Abs to get him the money by 3pm – or else. Later, he demands cash from another man but his friends ambush him and beat Ian up badly. He is admitted to the hospital but refuses his medical examination. Abs checks on him and sees that his monitor is bleeping and he is asking for help. Abs puts the monitor on mute and stands there for a few seconds before deciding to help him after all. However, Ian’s condition worsens and he dies from an internal bleed. Abs rushes home to tell Nina the good news – they are free from Ellen’s debt. In S19 E35, Harry tells Abs he has a new tenant for the house and he must move out today. That evening Abs and Nina meet the new tenant – Guppy. In S19 E36, Nina and Abs are caught naked on the couch of their flat when Harry and Woody arrive unannounced to fix the shower. In S19 E37, Abs tells Nina that he hates keeping their relationship secret. But she warns him that if immigration found out about them he could go to jail. However next episode after visiting the immigration office, he is informed they are no longer investigating the case. In S19 E43, Abs and Nina are both shocked to find Ellen back working as an agency nurse and that she has got a permenant position.
In S20 E4, when Bruno and Kelsey go around the staff with a ‘sex survey’, Abs is shocked to learn that Nina is far more experienced than him. In S20 E6, Nina breaks the news to Abs about the arrival of her ex-girlfriend Sarah. He doesn’t know how to handle the news. In S20 E7, Abs helps to rescue Tess and Sam from the deviance of Fleur. Whilst Nina tells Sarah that she still loves Abs. Abs and Nina make up and realise they don’t want to lose eachother. But Abs’ mind still isn’t clear of Nina’s past and wrapped up in this he fails to go to the aid of Guppy when he is beaten up by racists outside the department in S20 E11. Next episode in S20 E12, Abs is shocked to learn that the person he saw being attacked was Guppy. However, he keeps his guilty secret to himself and decides not to come clean to anyone. In S20 E13, Abs confesses his guilty secret to Nina, who is shocked and appalled. In S20 E14, Abs decides to come clean and confess to Guppy that he witnessed the attack. Guppy is horrified, but has other things on his mind when the racist gang step up their hate campaign, which turns Abs and Nina’s own relationship frosty. In S20 E16, Nina and Abs are sheepishly hoping that they might sort their differences out seeing as it’s Christmas time but when Bruno makes a move on Nina and she rejects him, he spreads a rumour through Woody about sleeping with her, which eventually reaches Abs. Abs confronts Nina. She’s mortified as she explains what really happened but the fact that Abs believed the lie, hurts Nina more than anything – she tells him that they are finished. In S20 E18, Nina thaws when she sees a compassionate side to Abs treating a patient and he manages to win her back, but she says they should take things easy and have fun. Abs agrees and, accompanied by a bunch of male strippers – does the full monty for her in the car park. However, without him realising, a number of staff have also witnessed it! In S20 E19, Abs tries to stop Guppy from agreeing to assist in his father’s death. In S20 E21, Abs treats a confused family man who can hear voices in his head. In S20 E33, Abs tells Ellen that he wants a divorce and she runs off in tears – he doesn’t know that she is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. But in S20 E36, Abs discovers Ellen’s secret when he bumps into her on the cancer ward, but she begs him not to tell anyone. Abs questions why Nina felt she couldn’t confide in him, but Nina is defensive. As Nina takes Ellen home, Abs shows up and offers them both a lift. In S20 E41, Abs treats a patient with herpes who’s dating Kelsey. He breaks confidentiality to tell her. Next episode the man comes in to make a complaint to Tess. In S20 E43, Kelsey starts a rumour that Greg’s gay. To prove everyone wrong, he spins Nina round and kisses her playfully but Abs looks on jealously. In S20 E45, Abs wants to spend some time with Nina but she is fed up with staying in and organises a party without telling him. He arrives home to find the party in full swing and, when the couple end up arguing, Nina tries to turn her attention to Greg, who rebuffs her. In S20 E46, Nina tells Abs that their relationship is over and he gets the wrong impression when he sees Greg comforting her. In S20 E47, Nina decides to leave Holby and Abs is clearly feeling the strain of their break up.
In S21 E1, Abs along with Guppy, Charlie and Comfort head to Cambodia to assist in the opening of Duffy’s clinic. He is involved in treating a young boy who’s fallen from a tree and a difficult birth. In S21 E14, Abs receives a postcard from Nina in Thailand. Meanwhile Greg gives Abs a peace offering (hash given to him by a patient) however when Tess finds it on him, the pair join forces to get themselves out of trouble. After recent tragedy, in S21 E19, Abs along with some of his colleagues head to the coast but their day doesn’t go to plan when Guppy is poisoned by a fish bite and they are involved in a sea rescue. In S21 E21, Abs has an emotional day as he treats medical student, who fears his cancer has returned. When his scan results come back, Abs is upset to inform him and his father that his cancer is back and very advanced. In S21 E23, Abs treats an elderly man, dressed in woman’s clothes, for burns but discovers a tragic motive behind it. In S21 E25, Abs persuades Greg to make a move on Cyd.
- S18 E6 – Abs is upset when a patient overdoses.
- S18 E25 – Taking Care Special episode where Abs draws on his past
- S18 E34 – A patient’s father beats Abs up in blame.
- S19 E10 – Abs makes a mistake with a patient which Ellen helps him cover up.
- S19 E16 – Abs and Ellen’s wedding day sham.
- S19 E20 – Abs discovers that Ellen has been lying about her father.
- S19 E34 – Abs is relieved when the loan shark dies and he is free of Ellen’s debt.
- S20 E6 – Abs is shocked to learn of Nina’s past romance with Sarah.
- S20 E18 – Abs performs the full monty for Nina.
- S20 E45 – The strain of Abs & Nina’s relationship begins to show at a house party Nina organises.
- S21 E21 – Abs is emotional over a terminal cancer patient.