Casualty: Richard Winsor on playing new lothario medic Caleb Knight

"He definitely likes the ladies. And I mean, why not? He’s a doctor. He’s living the dream," says the emergency department newcomer

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Casualty: Richard Winsor on playing new lothario medic Caleb Knight
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David Brown

New Casualty medic Caleb Knight makes a big first impression in tonight's episode as he indulges in some heroics worthy of George Clooney in his ER prime. With a young woman trapped inside a limo hanging precariously over a bridge, it's left to Cal to save the day.

Here, actor Richard Winsor reveals how the stunt was filmed and discusses the romantic complications that lie ahead for his character in the months ahead...

In your first episode, you’re involved in a set-piece stunt that sees a limo teetering off a bridge – what was that like to film?
That was the very first scene I filmed, actually. It was fantastic to turn up to my new TV job and see this massive set-up with a limousine hanging off the edge of a bridge. It was like: here you go, you’re a doctor now, so go and sort this out.

Was it a baptism by fire?
It really was. Not only was I clambering into the back of this limo, but I was also having to act out this life-or-death medical procedure, which I’d tried to learn about 15 minutes before the shoot.

I take it the scenes where you’re inside the car were filmed in a studio…
It’s the same limousine, but we had to take it into the sound studio and put it onto a rig. It’s made to look the same – so we were 10- to 15-feet off the ground and everything was tilting and rocking. I had to clamber up a ladder and squeeze through, which felt pretty hairy. But that’s my character – he’s an instinct-driven doctor who thrives in that environment. I had no choice but to be convincing.

What’s it like jumping on board a show like Casualty?
It’s a juggernaut. Everyone knows each other, a lot of people have been here for a while and clearly know what they’re doing. So you are jumping into the middle of all that. But the producers, cast and crew are all so lovely and supportive. It feels like a big family.

Who took you under their wing?
In my first episode, I had lots of scenes with Sunetra Sarker, who plays Zoe. At that point, she’s the boss of the hospital and she’s guiding my character through lots of different things. So we had a lot to do with each other, which was such a pleasure because she’s a fantastic, giving actress.

Caleb’s a bit of a romeo, isn’t he?
He is a bit of lothario, yes. He definitely likes the ladies. And I mean, why not? He’s a doctor. He’s living the dream.

Will there be romance for Caleb within the department?
There are some early romantic interludes and a couple of kisses here and there. I can’t give much away, but perhaps some of those sexual flirtations will go further. Certainly with one of the younger characters and also with a returning character, but even I don’t know too much about it yet.

The script calls for you to get your shirt off within the first five minutes – is there a lot of that going on?
That’s just an introduction to the character. It’s like they’re saying: here we go, here’s a hot new doctor. And he’s got to get into the shower, obviously! It’s just a given. But there’s not a lot of that going on – it’s got to be a serious place of work!

Are you squeamish?
No, that’s one of things I wanted to jump head first into. You don’t really feel like you’re playing a doctor until you’ve had to cut someone’s chest open or stitched someone’s leg back together. So blood doesn’t really affect me. But what I don’t like is people being sick – I just can’t take it. It makes me gag when the make-up people bring in a glass of vegetable soup and the actor playing the patient has to hold it in their mouth and then spit it everywhere. Just witnessing something like that gets to me.

Tell us about the friction with your screen brother Ethan…
Well, they’re certainly not on the same page. There’s a lot of animosity between them from years back. The thing is that they’re both brilliant doctors in their own way. Ethan is very by the book and procedural, whereas Caleb is much more instinctive. So the differences within the medical side of our relationship mean that we come to blows. Also, we’ll be feuding over other characters too, maybe ladies…But if pushed, we will stand up for each other if needed. Most of the time, though, we wind each other up the wrong way.

Does your dance training [Winsor previously starred in several Matthew Bourne productions] help at all with the choreography of you Casualty scenes?
You’ve hit something there, because both dance choreography and these medical procedures are all about hitting the mark precisely. Plus the dance I always did was a narrative-driven performance. So it definitely aids those procedural scenes in Casualty.

And finally, executive producer Oliver Kent has said that 2014 will be the year of Connie Beauchamp in the emergency department – does Caleb have much to do with her?
Yes. I’m not sure where our storyline will go but we do have scenes with each other, which is really cool. Amanda Mealing’s a lovely lady as well, so I’m really looking forward to working more with her.

Richard Winsor makes his Casualty debut in the episode airing tonight at 9.10pm on BBC1

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