It’s been another eventful year for actor Luke Robert’s character, Registrar Joseph Byrne. Following a failed relationship with colleague Jac after she betrayed him by having an affair with his father Lord Byrne, who then later died leaving Joseph in turmoil. It’s one of a number of gripping storylines that Luke has been challenged with during his time on the show. Kindly Luke took time out of his Holby schedule to talk to holby.tv…
You’ve been on HOLBY CITY for two years now, are you still enjoying your time on the show?
It’s true, two years… and a bit. We’re filming about three months
ahead of transmission. Wow! It goes fast. Still loving working on the show. Getting to plumb the depths of my crazy character. That’s the great luxury of playing a regular for such a long period of time. The part can grow and develop in so many directions, whilst hopefully remaining true to it’s essential nature. That’s the result of the producers’ and writers’ inventiveness with maybe a little help from the actor who needs to keep pushing the envelope to keep it interesting for himself and everyone else. Oh and I have tons of scenes with Patsy Kensit, who is adorable!
Joseph is such a complex and intriguing character to watch as well as being popular on holby.tv, why do you think he has such a strong fanbase and what kind of feedback do you get from viewers?
I’m delighted if he’s as popular as you say. Was kind of nervous when I began playing him. He’s not your typical heroic doc, the guy you would necessarily root for or want operating on you! At the same time it was his troubled psyche that appealed to me. I remember being told by a drama teacher that it’s what’s hidden that interests us. And I have a field day hiding all the dark personal history, intrusive thoughts and impulses that plague Joseph as he attempts to function as a surgeon in a busy hospital. Think we have the tendency to want the underdog to triumph. So maybe that accounts for his popularity. Not to mention I love playing him, so maybe that rubs off on some of the viewers. Then again I get very mixed responses when approached in the street. Some adore him, others can’t stand him. I’ll take any reaction. At least they’re watching!
You’ve already had a number of great storylines during your time on the show so far, which have been the most memorable/ challenging for you?
Most challenging storyline? One that is coming up is going to be
pretty hard to play down. Its not going to do anything for my street cred. Its just pretend. Take pity, ladies!
One of your first storylines involved Joseph’s OCD, did you have to much research into this condition?
The OCD storyline was a terrific launch for the character. There was a little nervousness I suspect on the part of the producers when they came up with it. Only because when I auditioned I was told they might throw it out and make him another charismatic maverick doctor. Glad they didn’t go that way. It was a cool character trait and an amazing detail for me as an actor trying to build the character initially. I hope it has informed his whole personality. I did some research ofcourse, bought a few books, even read some of them. By chance, I had attended an abnormal psychology course a couple of years before when work was a bit thin and OCD was covered. During a tutorial, when I owned up to always stepping on even stairs and touching the banister with both hands an equal number of times (just for good luck!), I was advised to nip it in the bud.
You also got to film an episode in Dubai earlier this year, did you enjoy this? Did you get the chance to do any sight-seeing?
Dubai was hot and hard work, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Such an
interesting mix of the ancient and the modern. It’s a bit like a star
wars set, flowing robes and unlikely skyscrapers. We were very well looked after by the locals. And foreign location work is always
exciting. It suddenly feels like you’re making a movie. As for sight
seeing, we shot in some pretty cool locations, so I would take a look around in between takes and at lunch!
How do you think Jac’s treatment of Joseph will affect his future relationships?
Jac has screwed him up royally. But he owes his evolution in part to her. She stole his innocence but also made him tougher, more capable of operating in the real world (well tv land). Understandably he is now rather sceptical about relationships and that may inhibit future romances.
Do you think Faye could be the right woman for him?
Faye’s temperament appears to be a welcome antidote to the
Jac experience, but she is a bit of an unknown quantity, so who knows whether it will work out? Of course I do. But I can’t tell you. Ha ha ha.
Who are your closest friends on Set? Do you socialise outside work hours?
I don’t really like any of the other actors! Sorry I’ve had a beer and I feel like being controversial. I’m actually drinking with one of the cast members right now. We all get on very well. Sometimes we drive each other crazy, but we work crazy hours together. It’s one of the strongest ensemble casts I’ve ever been a part of. Good people.
I cant pick favourites. Jaye Jacobs is a good friend. So is Tom, Paul, Rakie, Amanda, Sharon, Tina, Robert, Phoebe, Patsy, Nadine, bad boy Hugh Quarshie, Duncan, Hari, Stella, Alex, Andrew and yes even Rosie! She’s nowhere near as mean as her character! She even bought me lunch once. I lie, I paid. Did I miss someone out? Bet I did. Yikes! Oh I do miss Peter Wingfield. He was always good fun on set.
Which of the characters you have played so far in your career has been your favourite and why?
I’ve been very lucky and played some pretty cool characters. Some heroic, some less so. Joseph is right up there. He keeps evolving, which is exciting. He is by turns, comic. Sometimes tragic. I loved playing Capt. Dan in Mile High. Who doesn’t want to walk around airports dressed as a pilot, surrounded by beautiful air hostesses?
Ryan in Crossroads allowed me to be the bad boy I always hoped to be and am still working on in my spare time. There just seems to be fewer Jacuzzi scenes in real life! Perhaps one of the most interesting characters to play was John in ‘Oleanna’, just because the script is out of this world and I frankly had no business playing it in my twenties. I once played Humphrey Bogart in my own production of Woody Allen’s ‘Play It Again Sam’, which was one of the best experiences of my life. I got everyone involved. My Dad even built the set.
What would you like to do in the future career-wise?
Obviously I want to be Bond, when Daniel Craig has had enough. I
really enjoy Spooks, so maybe a MI5 agent. I would eat up a period drama. Could cope with a moment on Doctor Who, just to work with the lovely Freema again. Have always had my eye on the part of Jamie in the play, Long Day’s Journey into Night. I have to say I love playing Joseph (no, I really do!), so not ready to hang up the white coat just yet. Maybe he and Elliot could have their own spin off series … I dread to think what the producers would say if they read this interview. Please don’t show them.