Chelsea Halfpenny explains why Casualty’s doctor Alicia Munro is at the top of her game in Casualty

Ethan Hardy’s time at the helm of Holby City ED is over. Last week viewers saw the stressed medic quit as acting clinical lead. This week actual clinical lead Connie Beauchamp makes her triumphant return.

While Connie’s absence due to cancer treatment meant that many Casualty fans missed her forthright presence on the fictional NHS ED, it did facilitate a number of storylines that mirrored reality in many emergency departments around the country. It also showcased Casualty favourites Alicia and Ethan in tricky new senior roles.

Chelsea Halfpenny, who plays doctor Alicia Munroe, talked to What’s on TV about creating a realistic atmosphere on set during Alicia and Ethan’s explosive winter storylines, which saw patient lives at risk, Alicia write a whistleblowing blog and both Ethan and Alicia narrowly avoid dismissal!

Here she reveals why Alicia’s in a good place and taking her job to the next level

The winter storylines put major strain on Alicia and Ethan’s friendship

Did you have a good reaction to the winter storylines?

“We had a great reaction. When I read the episode [with patients on trolleys], it seemed different to other episodes. There was something about it. They really stepped it up a gear. You could sense the busyness of the ward on the page, and even more so when we were filming it.”

Why do you think that was?

“The scenes had a lot more people in them and it felt really intense. A lot of people said to me [on Twitter] that we nailed it. Director Fiona Walton really captured the essence of the NHS in that episode and the following episodes. At the end of the day we’re trying to recreate a realistic image of the NHS and if’s that what it’s like, then that’s what we need to be doing. It’s really important.”

Did the set feel physically more cramped during filming?

“Absolutely. Our set is big but with that many people in beds on the corridors it felt small. During scenes we were almost bumping into each other. But it was really fun. It keeps you on your toes!”

Alicia has grown from strength-to-strength as a medic since her junior doctor days

Do you think Alicia has changed much since she decided to quit drinking and dating?

“She’s become more passionate about the job and is taking it more seriously. Alicia started as quite a naïve girl. She was overwhelmed and wasn’t good with injuries or got too involved in people’s personal lives. Now, she’s a lot more professional. Obviously as she’s had a couple of promotions, passed a couple of exams and, as she gets higher up in the job, she’s definitely taking it more seriously.”

Junior doctors Rash and Bea make Alicia realise how far she’s come

Does it feel like a natural progression that she’s now mentoring junior doctors Bea and Rash?

“It feels like two seconds ago since Alicia was the one doing the shadowing! It’s actually a lot more challenging for me now as, often in a scene, I’m the main doctor leading Resus. It’s really fun to do. We’re going to see Alicia become quite good friends with Bea too, which is fun to film.”

Casualty continues on BBC1 this Saturday