Lee Mead is back in scrubs tonight as lovable Lofty Chiltern makes his Holby City debut. Its been over a year since the character left the ED, so what has he been up to in his time away from the hospital? And what can we expect from Lofty’s return? Here’s Lee with all the gossip:
So, Lee, why did you leave Casualty in the first place? Well, I was really happy working in Cardiff, I’d made great friends and I could have stayed much longer than I did. But, as every parent knows, it’s hard being away from home so much. I was missing my daughter Betsy – she’s seven now and I know I won’t get these years back. They’re very precious because, before I know it, she’ll be 16 and off living her life. There are more important things than work.
Working at Elstree on Holby City must be a good compromise then? Absolutely. As I say, Betsy is my priority. I want to have a life and do the school runs. So I’m very lucky that when Oliver Kent [head of continuing drama at the BBC] asked me if I’d come back, he said he wanted Lofty to be on Holby City. It means I have a great work/life balance. I get to go home every night, be back in Southend by eight o’clock, have weekends off and still be on a great show that’s one of the biggest dramas on telly.
What’s your Holby City experience been like so far? Exciting – because it’s a completely different setting. And I was surprised by how quickly I was able to relax and slip back into the role. What you’ll see is Lofty working a lot with the guest patients – he’s kind of become like a mini Sherlock in the way he treats them. It’s not very conventional and he can rub people up the wrong way, which gets him into trouble at times. But he’s still a very kind guy.
And what is it that brings him back? Well, he has no intention of coming back full time. He just wants to get enough money to go travelling again. If you remember, by the time he left Casualty, Lofty was having a crisis of confidence because a nurse had died on his watch. So he’s been as far as Australia and New Zealand and has even met someone on his travels. What I can say is that Lofty has fallen in love while he’s been away and that this person has helped him find himself and rebuild his confidence. So you can expect a whole love triangle thing to play out – and there’s a big twist to that particular storyline.
What is it that convinces him to stay at Holby? It’s only really after he bumps into Robyn that he reconsiders his plans. He actually has a really terrible first day and – in typical Lofty style – a few things go wrong. But there’s a beautiful scene where she tells Lofty that he wouldn’t have come back in the first place if he didn’t love nursing so much. So he realises that this is what he really wants to do.
Will you repay the favour and make an appearance on Casualty? We have discussed it. It’s not been confirmed but I would like to do a crossover back onto Casualty so Lofty can see Robyn and Dylan again. He and Dylan did form this funny bond – it was an odd coupling that grew over time so I’d like to revisit that.
Finally – have you had much chance to explore Elstree? Have you found the EastEnders set yet? Yes – and that was quite a big moment for me because I’ve watched it since I was a kid. On my first day, security told me that the car park as full and I had to drive to the other end of the studio complex, so I went right past the Queen Vic and the whole EastEnders set. I must admit – I did have a massive beaming smile on my face.
Well, maybe when the next disaster hits Albert Square, Lofty could be first on the scene? Can you imagine?! Lofty just pops up on EastEnders! That would be fun.
You can watch Lee Mead in his first episode of Holby City tonight at 8:00pm on BBC1