Former singer from Blake, Jules Knight, joins Holby City next week as Dr Harry Tressler and he’s certainly set to make a big impression. He talks to holby.tv about his new role…
Are you enjoying your time on Holby so far?
Great, I love it. Obviously it’s very different from what I was doing before. It’s a very different schedule and a lot of hard work, getting up at 5am every morning but I’m getting used to it. The cast and crew have all been very welcoming too, so I’m really enjoying it.
Is this your first major acting role?
Yes. Basically after University, I went to drama school. I’d obviously acted a lot when I was young but professionally I got the record deal with Blake six months after I left Central and then did that for six years so this is my first acting role really.
What made you decide to leave Blake and pursue acting?
I’d been thinking of leaving Blake for some time. For me I felt we’d achieved what I’d set out to achieve and I had a great time; toured the world and had some great experiences but all good things come to an end and I felt there was always going to be a time when either we’d break up or one of us would leave and for me I felt it was time.
I started to miss the acting, three years into Blake. I had an acting agent all through my time in Blake. I was sort of saying if anything good came up then let me know but it was very difficult to ask an acting agent to look for work when every time they said they’ve got an audition, I had to say sorry I couldn’t do it. So after a while that can be quite frustrating for an acting agent so at the end I gave them the green light and said I was ready to make the move and if something right came up, I’d like to do it.
When the character came through for this I thought it was pretty perfect. So I then started the audition process, it took four auditions for this part and it took a long time to cast as there were quite a few people up for the part. I didn’t really think I was going to get it but eventually I was offered the job. It was a bit last minute, late notice for the boys but I thought it was too good an opportunity to turn down.
Will Blake continue without you?
I think they are. I’m not sure in what format but yes they are continuing. We will remain friends.
Do you think you will miss the jet-setting lifestyle of Blake?
A little bit. We had some amazing experiences, like helicopter flights, amazing dinners, red carpet events, singing at incredible venues like the Albert Hall and the Sydney Opera House which of course are all very glamorous but for me it was time to go and I’m sure there is plenty to come in the future. There are only so many parties you can go to, to be honest. There’s only so many flights and hotels you can stay at: I’ve just moved into a flat and I have so many toothbrushes, soaps and shampoos from hotels, you would not believe!
Did you watch Holby before joining the show?
It was definitely on my radar. I love it; I’m quite interested in medical things anyway, I’ve always been fascinated by that whole thing so for me it’s quite satisfying
What can we expect from Harry as a character?
I think he’s going to shake things up a little bit. He’s clever, a good doctor, he’s good with people but he’s also quite manipulative. He likes to get what he wants. He’s like all good characters; he’s multifaceted. So he’s not the kind of person you’d want to get on the wrong side of.
What’s your first scene?
I think he’s going to be a bit of ladies’ man; play people off against each other. The first scene is related to that and I think they’ll be a lot more of that to come!
Is it right he has flirtations with Mary-Claire?
He leaves with her and they go the pub. Mary-Claire takes him into town and they end up together and it annoys Gemma!
So is Harry quite rebellious?
He’s got his own sort of beliefs and rules. He’s more concerned about the patients than anyone else’s rules so he is happy to flout them. That’s why he’s particularly good with patients because he’s slightly anti-establishment.
I guess this doesn’t go down well with everyone?
Well we’re yet to see! The senior management probably not but sometimes these renegades actually end up being ok so long as they don’t break the rules too often.
Any characters in particular he may clash with?
I don’t think Ric likes Harry very much. There’s an interesting dynamic there. Ric probably thinks he’s a bit of an idiot so in the first episode you see he takes an automatic dislike to Harry. Harry likes playing games, being cheeky and messing around whereas Ric’s quite serious so that will ruffle a few feathers for sure.
Gemma and Harry also have a love hate relationship, so there’s a lot of game ship there.
What would you like to see from Harry?
I want him to be not too nasty and not too arrogant because it’s difficult to like someone like that but I think the good thing about him is that he has lots of different sides and he is a nice person. He is a very good doctor, good with people so hopefully he will be a three dimensional person who has good and bad points. For me I want to create a character who’s real and likeable at least some of the time.
Do you share any similarities with Harry?
I’ve never been one for too many rules; I was always breaking them at school! There’s a fair amount of similarities.
Have you done any research for your role?
Yes I did; I spent time in a hospital, shadowing a registrar. It was really interesting to see how it all works and very useful in terms of being relaxed in that environment and procedures. It really made me have huge respect for the job that they do because it’s bloody hard work. I got home that evening absolutely exhausted, emotionally and physically. I think one thing that happens in the medical profession is they have to deal with so much life changing stuff on a daily basis that some medical people can develop such a thick skin about it because if you invest emotionally into every scenario that happens, you’d be a complete wreck! One thing I noticed about the people that worked there is that they’re very professional, they have a checklist of things to do, arriving at the patient’s bedside they have to show the right amount of empathy and also make sure they are doing their job and can walk away. It was really fascinating and I would love to do it again.
You also went to University with Prince William and Kate?
Yes, but I haven’t spoken to him in quite a long time. We studied the same subject for two years; we studied moral philosophy, history of art and at one point social anthropology as well. We spent a lot of time together; we were in the same group of friends. We were a close tight group, I know it sounds quite weird but it was very much like a bubble. We thought it was weirder to see him in the paper than to see him in real life, he was just one of the lads, a very nice down to earth guy. Kate was part of that group as well. It was all very normal to see him and spend time with him, go to the pub, do sports. We were in this separate environment and then when we went back to London we crashed down to earth again. That was very different for him as well.
Did you attend his wedding?
No I wasn’t invited. When we were in Blake, in celebrating the wedding, we did a performance in Trafalgar Square and did a song we thought was perfect for it. It was an event of national importance. I’m very pleased they are together and that Kate is pregnant.
Do you find all the attention that surrounds him strange?
Obviously he’s hugely well known; it must be strange to be in the papers everyday but I guess like everything you get used to it. We had a fantastic four years at St Andrews, it was an important and life changing part of our lives. Everyone, especially in those specific years because it was a special time; we shared great experiences and I think he says he feels the same that St Andrews is a big part of his life. Most of my friends from St Andrews got married to each other; in that respect they’re not different.
What are your acting goals for the future?
I trained specially in TV and film so I’d love to go into film at some point. I’d like to be in something with music as I love film music; I find it very emotive, acting with music. This is obviously quite a new direction for me, I’m learning every day. There’s some great actors here and I’m so grateful to be learning from them. I’m happy to take on any opportunity that seems right but I’d love to stay here and relearn the craft. It’s great to be on set. It’s a heavy work load but you do pick things up. I’m looking forward to what it might bring in the future.
Do the cast give you any advice?
They’ve been very supportive. Everyone has their own method, their own way of doing stuff, learning lines, delivering lines. As an actor you have to find your own method. At drama school, they throw a lot of information at you and you pick the things that work for you. I think that’s the same here, you learn your own method through actually doing the job so no; actors don’t really tend to tell each other how you should do this. You might pick something up from watching someone. I often, when in a scene, like watching others as I find it useful.
Do you think you will ever make a return to music?
I’ve been offered a few solo deals and for now that’s on hold, maybe at some point in the future I could do a solo album if it’s going to be right and I’m also quite tempted to do a musical. I always said I’d like to play Javert in Les Miserable at some point in my life. It would have to be something I’m really passionate about. Doing 8 shows a week is a huge commitment so you have to really want to do it. I’m open to anything really but I’m just very pleased to be doing what I’ve wanted to do since I was young; getting this job has been the culmination of many years of preparation and I’m really very pleased to be at Holby.
We’ve heard you and some of the cast have fun on set singing?
We’ve been singing quite a lot! It’s been quite weird obviously not singing as much as I used to do so you do find yourself singing – they start it though, I just happen to join in! Catherine Russell loves singing, Niamh also – she won’t stop!
We were talking one day about an idea of Holby the musical and I’m in full encouragement of that! I remember the first time I watched Glee I wasn’t sure if it would work but then obviously it was a huge success so you never know what could work! A medical musical!
Do you mind working with all the prosthetics?
I haven’t yet but I am looking forward to doing some surgery scenes. The day I spent at the hospital, seeing how they did the stitching and everything – I wasn’t squeamish at all! So I’m keen to get stuck in myself. Infact I’ve got a scene next week in surgery so I can’t wait!
What kind of fan attention do you get?
I have had recently some difficult scenarios with that, which I can’t talk about much, suffice to say if you do any job in the public eye, you sometimes get unwanted attention. It can be scary and stressful. There’s a lot of social media stuff that happens, hiding behind computers to say and do things. As I say I can’t go into it too much but I’ve had some nasty experiences which I wouldn’t wish on anybody.
The flipside is you do get some nice comments from people all around the world and loads of people on Twitter and Facebook sending the sweetest of messages and gifts. I got more birthday presents from fans last year than I got from my family. I was so bowled over! All around the world, people I’d never met. Stuff they’ve paid their money to buy, it’s extremely flattering. I’ve been given a watch, clothes, and amazing cakes – all very appreciated.
If you’re a singer or actor or anything in the arts, if what you do can move people to that extent, as that’s what we’re doing it for; to take someone out of their life for an hour or two and give them an experience, take them on an emotional journey, to hopefully uplift them or make them think about stuff in a different way, relating what you do on stage or screen to what’s going on in their life – if you can do that, it’s very powerful. So I feel privileged to be in that position. I enjoy it and if they enjoy it, everyone’s a winner.