Talking to What’s on TV, Amanda Mealing reveals the fascinating background to Connie’s relationship with dying surgeon Alfred Maxwell and how she’s been deeply affected by the euthanasia storyline with respected screen and TV actor, Michael Byrne…
Last week Casualty left us with a cliffhanger. We saw Connie steal medication from the hospital and visit Alfred. What can you reveal about the circumstances leading to her arrest?
“This week Alfred’s brought into the ED almost dead and Connie refuses to allow any of her staff to treat him. She also tells Lofty to throw away Alfred’s blood tests! Soon afterwards Alfred dies. Rita is very suspicious when she hears Connie wants Alfred’s bloods binned, so she gets them tested to see if there are any unusual drugs in his system!”
Is there a hint of maliciousness to nurse manager Rita’s behaviour, given their history?
“There is initially, I think. Rita really does think this is her opportunity to get rid of Connie!”
Do we know yet whether Connie’s given in to Alfred’s dying euthanasia wish?
“There’s an undeniable ambiguity as to whether Connie has gone through with helping Alfred or not. But we will find out. Either way, at the end of the last episode his argument for assisted suicide had definitely won her over. But [at this point] it’s still questionable whether she did or not.”
Connie is normally so sure of herself. What’s behind her indecision on whether or not to assist Alfred?
“Connie’s usually very clinical about things and very good at deciding what needs to be done medically. But because she has such a bond with Alfred, her judgement’s been clouded so she’s not as clear-cut.”
Their friendship has developed quickly – is there more to it for Connie?
“Shortly after Connie’s daughter Grace left, Alfred turned up at the hospital. This was around the same time as the anniversary of her father’s death, when we discover the reasons behind her work at the Emergency Department. Not only does Alfred look like her father, he’s also everything she wanted him to be – a professor of surgery and a hero of hers. This is why she has such a special relationship with him. In trying to save dying Alfred, she’s trying to save her father again, which she wasn’t able to do.”
She’s been on quite a journey since her arrival at Holby City ED in 2014!
“The initial idea we had for Connie was to have a year of seasons. She arrived in Holby during her spring. Taking over the ED was her summer. And in autumn she began to disintegrate after she lost Grace. Alfred’s arrival marks her winter of despair.”
How has it been working with Michael Byrne, who plays Motor Neuron Disease sufferer Alfred Maxwell?
“It’s been a privilege to work with Indiana Jones’ star Michael Byrne, he’s a phenomenal actor! I’ve found myself welling up in the scenes with Michael. If you see me looking up, it’s because I’m trying not to cry, because Connie doesn’t cry! I just couldn’t help being affected by his performance.”
Given the sensitivity of the subject, have you had a lot of research material to hand on set while filming?
“Yes, a lot of information. We had advisors all the way through, who were on set if we had any questions. We also talked about the medical and psychological aspects of both the patient and carer’s points of view.”
Have you felt a big responsibility with this storyline?
“It’s a huge responsibility to get this story right. Instead of being either for or against euthanasia Casualty’s put across both cases. You absolutely get why this man, who can put his very valid reasons across, wants to die. Slowly his body is becoming a cage. Then Connie’s on the side of caution, saying there are so many ways we can do to give you a reasonably comfortable life until the end. It’s very moving.”
Read more revelations about Connie’s arrest here.
To get a glimpse of Connie being carted off in handcuffs watch Casualty’s ‘strong women’ trailer.