Casualty fans have been left in the lurch for a whole month, the fate of Connie and her daughter Grace unknown ever since they plunged in their car down a ravine at the climax to the last series. Do they live? Do they die? Well, one thing’s for sure – actress Amanda Mealing is blaming the fact that she wasn’t wearing Connie’s killer heels at the time of the crash:
“As you can see, no heels on today,” she says. “This is what happens when Connie takes the shoes off. If you ever see me take the shoes off, then you know that something bad is going to happen.”
‘Something bad’ is quite the understatement. RadioTimes.com is on the Casualty set in Cardiff, mid-way through the filming of the big 30th anniversary episode – and it’s a scene of carnage. Helicopter debris is strewn across the ground, dead bodies (OK, plastic dummies) are covered by blankets and Mealing herself is caked in gore.
“It’s disgusting,” she admits. “It takes an hour to do the make-up and the fake blood is very sticky. There are prosthetic cuts and scars everywhere. And it’s actually a wig rather than my real hair. It’s really clever what they’ve done.” But surely she must be a continuity nightmare? “They just pour more blood on. If in doubt, add more blood.”
As well as taking a physical battering, it’s safe to say that Connie will also be put through the emotional wringer in the feature-length instalment. And those who are used to the character being cool, detached and no-nonsense are in for a bit of a surprise:
“What’s brilliant about the episode is that it’s so un-Connie. It’s lovely to be able to do that. Usually, the shutters come down and she’s the uber bitch. But because Grace is her Achilles’ heel, you get to see a softer and more vulnerable side.
“We’ve never seen her completely break down before and, here, you see all those raw, uncensored emotions. Some people can act pain, anguish and anxiety, but I think you have to be a genius to fake that. I can’t do it. I basically spent a week getting really upset for 12 hours a day. And it left me exhausted and depressed – I had an emotional hangover.”
But don’t actors crave the chance to do the set-piece stunts and get in on the action? “Yes, I did say I wanted to do more stunts get out more,” she laughs. “Shut your mouth, Amanda! Next time, say you want to go to Barbados.”
As for what happens next, well, viewers will have to wait and see in what state Connie is left by the climax of Saturday’s episode (labelled “Casualty – the Movie” by the cast). But should Connie live to do another shift, Mealing thinks that there would be far-reaching repercussions, especially where her romance with Jacob (Charles Venn) is concerned.
“I like Connie being with Jacob. I always said that if Connie were to fall in love, then it would have to be with someone who could match her. She needs someone who isn’t intimidated by her and I think she can see that in Jacob.
“But what happens in this episode would put a real strain on a relationship. I don’t know where it goes as the writers don’t tell me because I’m such a blabbermouth!”
One thing we can say for sure, though, is that the affable Mealing looks set to channel her inner Connie for a new role behind the camera. “Yes, as soon as I get all this fake blood off me, I’m going to be directing an episode. It’s my first time, so I’m looking forward to that. I’m going to be putting them all through their paces – more blood! More blood!”