There’s a familiar face making their Casualty debut this evening as former EastEnders star Maddy Hill swaps Albert Square for life as a paramedic in Holby. Hill, who played Walford’s Nancy Carter between 2014 and 2016, does her opening shift on the BBC1 medical drama tonight. But things don’t go to plan for by-the-book Ruby Spark, who ends up getting pushed to her limits on her first day on the job. Here, Maddy Hill reveals all about her new character – and whether she’d ever revisit the role of Nancy…
So, how did you get the role of Ruby?
I was approached last August and was asked how I felt about coming in to do Casualty. I’d been watching the documentary series Ambulance, and was in awe of what I saw, so I was really hoping that Casualty were going to ask me to come in and be a paramedic. So when they told me about the character of Ruby, I just thought it was a brilliant opportunity. I also knew that there’d be plenty of action and that the work would be varied.
So, tell us about the character – Ruby certainly rubs people up the wrong way on her first shift, doesn’t she?
Yes, she’s definitely not quite there, socially. She has this obsessive quality that compels her to do things by the book. She puts a lot of pressure on herself and it’s not necessarily that healthy to be such a stickler for the rules.
Would you say that she has a form of autism?
It’s something I considered when playing her, especially when it came to justifying some of the decisions she makes. She hasn’t been written as Autistic, but a lot of people are on the spectrum and get by absolutely fine in their work, but struggle socially. As I say, it’s not something we’ve discussed, but I would like to explore that further.
Was it important to you that Ruby is so different to Nancy on EastEnders?
Yes, that was a huge draw for me. If they’d wanted Ruby to be a boisterous tomboy, I wouldn’t have been interested. It’s great to do something so different.
You’ve said in the past that acting is all about variety and playing different roles, so why have you decided to commit to another long-running series after EastEnders?
Well, the world couldn’t be more different. EastEnders is very domestic and Casualty is this high-intensity, working environment. So it asks different things from you as an actor and it’s very flattering to be trusted with that.
Do you think viewers will be startled when they hear Ruby’s speaking voice because it’s so far removed from Nancy’s?
Totally! She’s so different to Nancy. And in terms of personality, I’m somewhere between the two. I’m very pedantic, as Ruby is. But in Nancy, I was playing someone who was as cool as I’d like to be. It was wish fulfilment, really. But that’s the joy of acting, isn’t it? Playing someone who’s more cool or more highly strung than you are. It’s the best part of the job.
Would you ever go back to EastEnders?
I’ve always been open-minded about it – that’s why I was really glad that Nancy didn’t die. It’s great when you don’t die! I’d be interested to know what she’d be like when she was older. She was quite petulant, so I’d like to see her when she’s matured. And what she’d be like as a parent, for instance.
And how do you feel about the NHS now that it’s reached its 70th birthday?
I think the NHS is hands down the best thing about this country. It’s remarkable and amazing that it manages to do all that it does. I’ve never met a person who doesn’t think that – even those who can afford private health care will have needed the NHS at some point. Obviously, though, we’re living longer and we keep reproducing, so it’s going to be stretched no matter how much money it receives. But it’s one of the most important things in this country and it needs as much resource as it can possibly get. It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m consistently awestruck by the people who work in that world. And they should be paid more – pay them loads more money!
Maddy Hill’s Casualty debut can be seen tonight at 8.40pm on BBC1