West End star Lee Mead reveals it’s out with the Technicolor dreamcoat and in with hospital scrubs for his new role as a nurse in BBC1’s Casualty…
You join Casualty as new nurse Lofty this week. How did this come about?
“I had a guest role on the show over two years ago, which led to the producer phoning my agent and saying they had a role in mind for me and would I be interested? This rarely happens in your career! It’s such an honour. Thankfully I delivered the goods and was packing my bags for Cardiff where it’s filmed!”
Was it daunting to join such an established show?
“I was nervous. I’ve mainly done theatre and only had a few guest roles on TV, so this is my first regular role. I’m chuffed to be on this primetime BAFTA-winning programme with my own part. It’s quite surreal.”
Were you a fan of the show before you joined the cast?
“I watched it growing up. To be honest I wasn’t a regular viewer, but I certainly tuned in from time to time. When I met the crew and directors on my first day I remember thinking ‘Wow, this is incredible!’ I’ve had some scenes with Derek Thompson, who plays Charlie and has been on the show for over twenty years. He’s such a nice guy. He’s a bit cheeky and makes you feel very relaxed. He’s the godfather of the show!”
How does working on Casualty compare to the stage work you’ve done?
“They’re a great team of people on Casualty, from the crew, to actors, make-up and publicity. I think you need to be close on this kind of show because you’re on set for 12 hours a day and need to support each other. In theatre when you work with actors there can be a lot of ego involved and that can make it quite an awkward process. But there’s no ego on this set, which I think enhances the performances.”
How are we introduced to your character, Ben, who later becomes nicknamed Lofty?
“Ben has been secretly staying in the attic of Robyn’s flat, having nicked the keys from his dad who rents it out. Robyn chases Ben out of the house, but when she ends up putting her foot through a rake he decides to stay with her and takes her to A&E.”
How does he come to work at the emergency department?
“Although Ben’s in his 30s and has been using his parents as a bank, he’s not a bad person. Robyn can see he’s a good man, so when she discovers he’s a qualified nurse she helps him get a job at A&E. She even moves him into the flat with her and Max, the hospital porter.”
What does joining Casualty mean to you?
”For me this is like a whole new career! I’ve wanted to get my own part in a show for a while. Unfortunately when you’re known as a theatre actor it can be hard to make the crossover to TV. I’m so chuffed it’s happened! Casualty is a lot of fun and there are some good storylines to come for Lofty.”