Who is Tess Bateman as she returns to Casualty tonight?

A face that’ll be familiar to long-time Casualty viewers returns to the Holy ED tonight as Tess Bateman (Suzanne Packer) appears in the first episode of a special two-parter which takes us back to events of Christmas 2020.

Who is Tess Bateman?

Tess Bateman is one of Casualty’s most iconic characters. First appearing in series 18 back in 2003, Tess started her Casualty career as an emergency nurse practitioner and later became clinical nurse manager.

Tess is a highly-skilled nurse, sensible, practical and supportive of her colleagues. Suzanne Packer has said that she drew on her experience as a teacher, and her mother’s experience as a nurse, to develop the character.

Tess is the sort of person everyone relies on, the one who will hold a busy department together with her calm, unflappable manner. To some people she can come across as a little bit old-fashioned and inflexible in her ways, but she’s driven to help everyone else do their best.

She also has a wicked sense of humour and often has a twinkle in her eye. She enjoys warm and friendly relationships with her team to whom she is a hard taskmaster but fiercely loyal and protective.

When was Tess last in Casualty?

Tess left Casualty as a regular character in 2015. It was a low-key exit, as Tess went to live in Leeds with her son Sam (Luke Bailey) and his new baby Charlie. Sam had been a recurring character in the show as he struggled with bipolar, and Tess’s decision reflected this.

This wasn’t the last time we saw her, though. She returned the following year for a cameo appearance in the 30th anniversary episode broadcast in August 2016.

Tess’ biggest storylines

In a long-running story, a romance developed between Tess and ED nurse Adrian ‘Fletch’ Fletcher (Alex Walkinshaw). It was a case of opposites attract, as Fletch’s light-hearted approach to life contrasted with Tess’s more serious outlook. The show allowed their feelings for each other to develop over a long time frame from a warm friendship to love.

Fletch was married at the time, and after Tess became pregnant with his baby and had an abortion she tried to back away from the relationship because she didn’t want to come between Fletch and his family.

When Tess was travelling on a train that derailed, Fletch rushed to the scene to rescue her – and in the middle of all the chaos, as Fletch brought Tess to safety, they acknowledged that they both still loved each other. Fletch realised he had to walk away from her, and left the ED.

In a more light-hearted story, Tess formed a bond with nurse Abs Denham (James Redmond) when the two became unlikely dancing partners – with the much taller Abs towering over Tess.

Tess’s friendship with Charlie Fairhead lasted for many years, and she was part of the harrowing storyline where Megan Roach (Brenda Fricker) asked Charlie to help her to die. Tess stood by Charlie even though she morally disapproved of what happened.

As well as Tess’s relationships with her staff team, her family were also introduced to the show. The breakdown of her marriage to her husband Mike (Louis Emerick) was an important storyline for the character, as was the bipolar of their son Sam (Luke Bailey).

Fun fact: Louis Emerick and Suzanne Packer previously played husband and wife Mick and Josie Johnson in the long-running Liverpool soap Brookside.

Why is Tess back in Casualty?

Tess returns to Casualty in this special pair of episodes, as the ED struggles with Covid 19 patients. She tells Charlie that she’s doing cover shifts and is happy to be an extra pair of hands. With her extensive experience in the ED she’s exactly the kind of reliable, responsible person who’s needed. Though Charlie doesn’t seem to think so.

Why is Charlie angry with Tess?

When we see Charlie in this episode he’s very much in the early days of grieving for his wife Duffy, who died in February 2020. The episode is set in December 2020, so it’s coming up to the anniversary of her death, which followed a particularly traumatic Christmas for Charlie and his wife, who was suffering from dementia.

“We need each other” 💚
Charlie & Tess reunite in tomorrow’s Christmas special.

The #Casualty two-parter begins Saturday 9:15pm on @BBCOne  and continues on Saturday 11th December. pic.twitter.com/257cYtM9vA

It seems that Charlie blames Tess for not being there when he needed her the most, but it remains to be seen whether there was a specific time that Charlie reached out to Tess for support, or whether he just feels she should have made more of an effort to support him when he was going through such a painful time.

Will Tess return?

It’s not known yet whether Tess’s return is going to become more permanent. As tonight’s episodes are set a year ago, we know she didn’t return at any point in the following year – but there’s nothing to stop her returning to the ED in the new year.

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