Amanda Mealing reveals Connie’s pushed to the brink in Casualty, yet off-screen it’s still one big happy family. Phew!
Mark our words. The next few episodes of Casualty are going to down as among some of the greatest in the show’s history.
This weekend, after months of build up with various characters – notably Duffy Fairhead’s dementia diagnosis, Connie Beauchamp’s post-traumatic stress disorder and Ciaran Coulson’s watchful presence in the ED – the influx of patients from a prison riot creates the ideal atmosphere for a perfect storm… with Connie (Amanda Mealing) and Duffy (Cathy Shipton) at its centre.
The exact details are tightly under wraps, but we caught up with Casualty star Amanda Mealing, who reveals just enough to have us on the edge of our seats for Saturday’s episode…
Warning: Contains terrific Casualty spoilers and teasers…
What does the influx of patients from the prison riot mean for Connie?
AM: “Connie’s forced to get out of her office and treat people. But she’s already almost killed a patient and wrongly blamed doctor Archie Hudson. This is Connie at her most vulnerable. She’s no longer brilliant at her job. She doubts herself, and doubt is the greatest enemy of a surgeon!”
We hear Duffy gets caught up in Connie’s whirlwind. What can you reveal?
AM: “Connie and Duffy are both going through life-changing and debilitating situations. Connie’s is brought on by anxiety, Duffy’s by disease. These strong, much-loved women are being destroyed in different ways by something beyond their control.
“It’s dreadful how far Connie goes to save her own skin, but it’s because she’s in the throes of addiction. It’s not just PTSD. She’s now an addict who can’t go a day without these diazepam tablets.”
Charlie (Derek Thompson) is dear to both Connie and Duffy. Is he in for a tough time too?
AM: “Oh yes! He doesn’t know it yet, but it’s in the post!”
How has Connie arrived at this point?
AM: “Connie’s suffering post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] since being violently attacked. She’s self medicating and, meanwhile Ciaran (Rick Warden) has usurped her powers.”
Why do you think these recent Casualty stories are particularly affecting?
AM: “Casualty’s unique in a way because every week you can have a stunt with jeopardy and in high-octane situations. Yet we also have those personal, softer, slower journeys as well. It’s unique to do all that in one episode. Plus we get to do it every week!”
Does the intensity of filming have a knock on influence on the atmosphere on set?
AM: “I think because we work as an ensemble emergency department, and you can be anywhere at any time, it means we all work together at some point, so there’s a real ensemble feel. We also have our regular cast meals out so it’s a real family feel off set too!”
What do you think would most surprise viewers about life behind-the-scenes on Casualty?
AM: “The laughter is almost nonstop. Considering most scenes are tragic and heartfelt there’s a lot of laughter. Also those in conflict on the show are usually the best of friends off screen. It’s easier to be in conflict with someone you’re friends with because you can take it really far!”
Has it been particularly special working closely with Cathy Shipton on these storylines?
AM: “Cathy’s such a good friend and amazing actress. She’s been such an enormous support. It’s wonderful to work opposite someone you trust. For both characters it’s a tough journey, so it’s really nice that’s Cathy’s sympathetic. Our dressing rooms are close together so we sit down and go through the scenes thoroughly so we can be careful and delicate with each other’s work. Some of the final scenes… there’s going to be tears all round!”
Life is never easy for the medics who run the fictional emergency department, and for two Casualty leading ladies, events are due to take a sinister turn when their personal and professional stories collide…
To find out what happens next tune into BBC1, Saturday 20th July 2019, at 8.30pm.