Hearts are beating a little faster in Casualty this month as a trio of dashing new doctors joins the Emergency Department to set female pulses racing and threaten the equilibrium of the department.
Gowning up for medical action are Hotel Babylon hunk Raymond Coulthard as Matt Strong, an anaesthetist whose bedside manner turns the head of feisty Zoe (Sunetra Sarker); rising star Robert Boulter as Kieron, a new F2 who melts ice-queen May (Laura Aikman) but is harbouring a big secret; and much-lauded actor Michael Maloney as Howard Fairfax, a consultant whose surgical savvy impresses the heroically high-maintenance Ruth (Georgia Taylor).
“Joining an established, long-running show like Casualty can be daunting but fortunately most of my filming was with Sunetra Sarker, who’s a joy to work with,” says Raymond Coulthard, whose character, Matt, is threatening the long-standing on/off relationship between Zoe and Jordan. “I play nice guy Matt who’s got a big crush on Zoe and has a great bedside manner that makes him very popular with both staff and patients. He’s warm, funny and easy-going – many of the attributes that Zoe seems to struggle with herself – and seems to be just what she needs in her life. But things accelerate very quickly between them and soon Matt is throwing caution to the wind and hoping that Zoe feels the same way.
“Luckily I didn’t have to cope with a lot of medical jargon or blood and gore as the majority of my scenes are in an isolated love story with Zoe,” he adds. “This was just as well as a friend of mine had a dream that on my first day of filming I had to say the line: ‘Hello, I’m Matt Strong and I’m an anaesthetist.’ He dreamt I had trouble saying it and after the 30th take he woke up laughing! Thankfully I didn’t have to put it to the test!”
Survivors and Waking The Dead star Robert Boulter was less fortunate. His character, the enigmatic F2 Kieron, was thrust right into the middle of the medical action: “Playing a doctor is a strange experience,” he admits. “Pretending you know what you’re talking about when you don’t is very bizarre but there are advisers on set who are fantastic at taking you through procedures and giving you the confidence to stand there and look like you know what you’re doing. The jargon can be difficult – one of my first scenes consisted of three pages of words I never even knew existed! But with the help of the medical advisers I got through it and hopefully look like I know what I’m talking about!”
With the brooding Kieron causing ructions between fellow F2s May and Yuki and harbouring a big secret about another member of the ED, Robert was thrilled to have a big impact on the drama: “Kieron is fiery and passionate, and not afraid of taking risks, but he carries a big secret with him,” explains Robert. “He has his own agenda, and is willing to go to great lengths to get what he wants, which means he’s going to have a very big impact on the ED.”
Far from being daunted about joining a long-running show, Michael Maloney relished it. He says: “There’s a significant body of people constantly working on Casualty – a pressure cooker of people in a limited space all wishing to excel, which is pretty exciting. I’d worked with tons of people from the show before so it was a party! I mean, Stephanie Beacham was my landlady 25 years ago and I’ve hardly seen her since so we had quite a lot to talk about!”
Michael plays Howard Fairfax, who he describes as “a doctor who means well but manifests disaster”.
“I’ve played doctors and psychologists before so I’m used to the medical stuff,” says Michael. “The gore and make-up effects are really excellent but the authenticity is reduced somewhat when everyone breaks for lunch and tucks into steak and kidney pud regardless of how gaping their wounds might be that day! But my hat goes off to the real men and women of a hospital casualty department – now that’s a proper job and to me, and many whose lives have been saved; they are geniuses.”
With Fairfax causing medical mayhem and throwing Ruth’s surgical ambitions into disarray, and the other doctors sending shockwaves around Holby, it seems the prognosis for the smooth running of the ED looks unsettled for some time…
(Source: BBC Press Office)