The emergency department at Holby is set for big change in 2014: Connie Beauchamp (Amanda Mealing) will be making an impression on staff members, Lee Mead does his first shift as nurse Lofty, while new sibling medics Ethan (George Rainsford) and Cal (Richard Winsor) clash over patient care. So what better time to catch up with the show’s executive producer Oliver Kent, who tells us what’s in store over the coming months?
The return of Connie Beauchamp “This will be huge. 2014 is Connie’s year in the ED. She’s going to go from being a prominent cardiothoracic surgeon to being an emergency physician, which doesn’t necessarily sit right for herself or other people. All the other characters will be asking “what is she after?” – and obviously Connie has her eyes on the prize. She’s not going to want to be subservient to Zoe for very long and it certainly won’t take long for Connie’s ambition to begin to find its way out.”
Ash’s relationship with Lily Chau “There’s a suppressed crush on possibly both sides, but certainly for Lily. And although I don’t think it will necessarily blossom into romance, it definitely informs the decisions she makes. We’re going to see a tempestuous period for both of them, but Ash will begin to realise that Lily is a better human being than he had given her credit for her.
“Towards the end of February, he’ll make a ‘tough love’ decision that he hopes will shock her into changing her behaviour, but it backfires horribly on them both. Lily, though, will show her inner steel and strength and end up more committed to emergency medicine than she perhaps thought she was.”
Lee Mead enters as Lofty “Lee will be playing the most adorable character – I think he’ll be the new Abs. Lee is probably the nicest guy in showbusiness; he has this completely ego-free quality that comes across in his performance. We basically wrote the part for him once we learned that Daniel Anthony [student nurse Jamie Collier] wanted to go. We thought: we need a youngish male nurse; do you think we could get Lee Mead? And we did. So we’ve written the part around him.”
Student nurse Jamie Collier exits “Actor Daniel Anthony will depart in February and he has a sweet romantic story to take him out. Ramin, the gay Iranian asylum seeker who we saw earlier in the series, will return. There was a rather nice chemistry between the two of them and when we found out that Danny wanted to go, we thought we’d bring Ramin back. It’s a rather nice story.”
Fletch’s family woes “He’s in huge turmoil at the moment. We’re not going to be playing the romance between Tess and Fletch. That’s over. But the after-effects are going to be felt for a while. You have to bear in mind that his wife is pregnant with their fourth child and Fletch doesn’t actually earn very much. So this is all going to have an impact on his life in quite an interesting way.”
Max the porter’s flirtations with Zoe “It won’t necessarily be a big hearts-and-flowers romance but it will grow into something fun. They’re strangely equally weighted in status terms because he isn’t affected by her ego and will tell her to p**s off if she gets too grand. That dynamic actually came about from the writers seeing the way Jamie Davis [Max] and Sunetra Sarker [Zoe] interacted on screen.”
Zoe’s power struggle “Having Zoe as clinical lead has made her character less interesting. I don’t think it’s played to her character’s strengths. It’s not a question of Sunetra Sarker’s ability as an actress – she’s brilliant. But it’s more interesting to see the slightly anarchic and rebellious Zoe whose personal life is a mess but whose great in a professional environment. So what we’ll see in 2014 is a big status struggle between Zoe and Connie – and Guy Self [John Michie] will also occasionally appear. In fact, he’s in Connie’s first episode.”
New sibling doctors Ethan Hardy and Caleb Knight make a big impression “They’re like chalk and cheese – it’s the classic story territory of Cain and Abel or John Ross and Christopher Ewing. One is the heart of the family and the other is the head. So Cal [Richard Winsor] is the thrusting stag and Ethan [George Rainsford] is a little bit like Spider-Man. So their default position is to be at loggerheads but every so often they will look after each other. And then they’ll bust up again.”
Big stunts in the summer “Stunts are part of the signature of Casualty and there should be suspense and action in every episode. We do ration them because our budget isn’t massive – but there are some huge ones coming up in the summer. They’re at a very early stage of development, but all I can say is that they’re enormous and we are saving up for them!”