OK, Casualty fans, this is the big one: all the gossip on the latest twists from the boss himself, Oliver Kent. The BBC1 medical drama’s executive producer reveals what it’s store for the doctors and nurses as we head into the show’s 30th anniversary year. Will Zoe and Max be reconciled? What about the growing flirtations between Jacob and Connie? And is Cal really a dad? Read on for all this and more…
Max and Zoe
“The temptation with the story is to get them back together as soon as possible. But that wouldn’t be true to life, so we have to let it play out. I’m not going to tell you which way it’s going to go, but these are two people who love each other.
“We also know that it’s Zoe’s tendency to self sabotage that stops them being happy, which is completely truthful to Zoe’s character. She messes up all the big decisions in her life. We got a little flak when Zoe slept with a stranger before her wedding, but that is what Zoe would do. If we’re too nice to characters, then it’s not truthful.”
Connie and Jacob
“It’s a long, slow burn and it will keep us guessing for quite a long time. The interesting thing about them is that, on the surface, they are polar opposites. But once you see them together, you realise that they have more in common than she might like to think. But we’re taking it slowly. We’ve seen that there’s a huge chemistry between them, but we don’t want to rush the story. The best moments we have to wait for.
“We have a set of rules for Connie. She never goes to the pub, she doesn’t enquire about people’s welfare and the only person who can speak the truth to her is Charlie. So planning stuff with those rules in mind is really good fun. The temptation with Connie is to play for emotion. But we have to find ways for her to hold it back. Amanda Mealing’s worry would be that we’d make Connie too soft, but we haven’t disappointed her yet.
“Jacob is a great alpha male nurse. We needed someone like that after the departures of Jeff and Fletch. And the essential truth that we need to gently remind ourselves of is that Casualty is a show about nurses, not doctors. Even though Connie, Ethan and Dylan are brilliant characters, this is a programme that’s driven by nurses.”
Lily and Alicia
“The things that we make Lily do! In lesser hands, it would make us hate Lily. But because Crystal Yu is so skilled, we don’t.
“So we have this story coming up that is slightly reminiscent of Salieri and Mozart in Amadeus in which she does end up bullying Alicia to quite a severe extent. We know that Lily’s father had just died, but she just can’t show any vulnerability, even though they meant a lot to each other. We had a story conference last week and everyone loves Lily. We all want to give her a hug, even though she wouldn’t welcome it.
“As for Alicia, we’ll see a big episode airing in November that will find Alicia excelling herself, which is something that Lily can’t bear. It leads to a huge crisis of conscience for Alicia and she’ll end up questioning her faith in her career.”
“Taylor – the woman who broke Cal’s heart – comes back with a baby that she says is his. So Cal has to find out whether he really is the daddy – and, all the time, he’s getting increasingly attached to this little girl. Now, Cal doesn’t do love or settling down, but suddenly he’s got this little girl, for whom he’s fallen hook, line and sinker. So it’s really messing with his mind.
“The aftermath of this will play out into the new year, with one story kicking off another. The thing about Cal is that he’s always consistent: every time something goes a little bit wrong, he gets drunk, goes out on the pull and makes a fool of himself.”
Dixie and Iain
“Dixie will meet a woman called Jess, who she becomes involved with. But the trouble is that Jess is already attached to somebody else! It’s a long time since we saw Dixie have her head turned by anybody. Traditionally, she’s been very unlucky indeed. This storyline will start out as a cute romance before becoming something much bigger. And fingers crossed it works out a little better for Dixie this time.
“And you should also be watching out for Iain and Rita because their romance will take some very interesting turns.”
New receptionist Jack
“West End star Alistair Brammer has really hit the ground running. He’s hilariously funny. The funny thing is that Alistair is not at all like his character. A lot of our actors are a bit like the people they play. Alistair is nothing like that – he’s quiet and sensible and Jack is flamboyant and outrageous and waspish. He’s great.”
The 30th anniversary in 2016
“Well, when we teased last month that we could be killing Charlie, we didn’t know if anyone would believe us. But we did seem to persuade people that we were going to kill our most important character.
“I’ve always been a firm advocate of keeping Charlie front and centre. Charlie is by far the most important character, so it was great to see that plotline eliciting such a big reaction. It was extraordinary and moving to see how a show that’s been around for 30 years can still move people.
“So what we do next year needs to emotionally top that. What we have in mind is – emotionally – even bigger than what we’ve just done and there will be a spectacular stunt to go with it. It’s an absolute joy doing this show – it’s not my programme, I’m a custodian and just lucky enough to oversee it. But I have a huge responsibility to get it right!”
You can watch a trailer featuring all the autumn drama on Casualty below: