Casualty is back with a bang this Saturday with a huge helicopter stunt that looks set to leave lives in the balance. In the thick of the action is staff nurse Jacob Masters, who is both physically and emotionally involved thanks to the threat posed to Connie and Grace, who were last seen plunging down a ravine at the climax to the last series.
Here, actor Charles Venn reveals all about how it felt to play the hero in the medical drama’s big 30th birthday special…
So, do you relish the opportunity to play the action man and do the stunts?
Most definitely. As a kid, I dreamt about being an action man. I was always lively and energetic – and I actually wanted to be stuntman when I was younger. Never got to carry that through as the acting thing came along. But I always wanted to get involved in action-based type roles. So I’m living the dream in many ways. It’s pretty good. I can’t complain.
How injured does Jacob get in the helicopter crash?
I’ll say he’s emotionally injured. He’s as tough as old boots, but it’s an incident that has an emotional effect on him. The repercussions are long lasting, without giving too much away.
Is he too close to Connie and Grace to be effective in the emergency?
He has difficulty dealing with the situation and being professional because he’s so emotionally connected. But, then again, it’s only natural that he feels the need to help. He wants to defend and protect – that’s what all the characters do. God forbid we ever see our loved ones in any kind of danger. We naturally want to come to their aid or stand alongside them. So it’s very close to home for Jacob.
What was your reaction when you read the script?
I was extremely excited. Word went around that Jacob was going to be quite involved and I thought, ‘OK – that’ll be interesting’. I love a challenge. But I didn’t expect it to be as heavily involved as I am. I mean, it’s the 30th anniversary and, in the grand scheme of things, it feels like I’ve only just started in this show – certainly compared to some of the others here. When the script came out and I read it, I was truly surprised. And immediately excited and nervous! I feel so lucky that I’m part of it. It’s so special and a real pleasure.
What kind of stunt work do you get to do?
A lot of down and dirty stuff. Avoiding debris, having to show feats of amazing strength! It’s one of those ones where there’s lots of physical action – saving and lifting and moving and sliding. It’s a lot of that. You just roll your sleeves up and just get on with it. That’s probably the best way to describe it. I’ve been very blessed – Jacob as a character who’s been very involved in stunts and action sequences, which is right up my alley. It’s been brilliant. It really has.
Are Casualty fans rooting for Jacob and Connie?
100 per cent. But when I started on Casualty, I didn’t know how they were going to take me. My character is a bit like Marmite – you love him or hate him. No in between. So you’re talking about Jacob being with someone really high in the Casualty food chain! Connie Beauchamp – head matriarch! I wasn’t sure if the viewers would be like, ‘Nah – not feeling that, not crazy about it, don’t think it’ll work’. But it’s not like that – they love it! They champion it.
How’s Amanda Mealing as your leading lady?
I’m very happy, she’s wonderful. Come on – it’s easy work! I remember when I was told that there would be a relationship going on between Jacob and Connie. I said “Really? That’s easy!” She’s a beautiful woman. Even covered in mud and fake blood, OK she’s seen better days in this episode but she’s still glowing through it. She luminates through it! Amanda is amazing to work with. She’s a wonderful professional – very driven, very determined. She’ll do whatever is necessary to tell the story and put herself through any physical and emotional discomfort and obstacles. She wants to be sure it is as authentic as possible.