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Doctors star Ian Kelsey tells TV Times magazine how the daytime soap is marking the centenary of the outbreak of World War I…

Hi Ian. There’s a very special episode of Doctors on this week, which sees your character Howard Bellamy looking into the truth about his great-grandfather Hugh…

“Howard’s looking to clear his grandfather’s name. He finds some memoirs online and it turns out that the person who wrote them is related to the last person to have seen Hugh alive. But unfortunately, because it’s a drama, the crucial three pages that will give all the clues are missing! So Howard starts digging around to find out what actually happened.”

And we’re right in saying that you play both Howard and his great-grandfather Hugh in the episode…

“Yes. As you know, on Doctors, we’re always doing something a little bit different! It was great to get my teeth stuck into it and I loved playing soldiers for the day.”

What did you learn?

“We had an army expert teaching us how to hold and load the rifles quickly as if we’d done it a thousand times. It was comedy because I got a blood blister on the palm of my hand where I trapped my hand in the loading part. He just laughed and said: “Every soldier in World War I had that injury!””

Has shooting this episode made you reflect on the significance of the centenary?

“I think the world has changed now. I think people have changed. I don’t think the government would be able to call millions of people to arms anymore – I don’t know how that would possibly happen. I think the importance of remembrance is to bring to light the suffering that everyone went through. They were only young lads of 17 or 18 and I don’t think they knew what they were putting themselves through.”

Are you still enjoying your role on Doctors?

“When I signed up to Doctors, it was only for six months! But I’m having such a laugh there, it’s ticking every box at the moment. It’s such a good show to work on and it’s such a friendly, happy family. Doing this episode does make me wonder about my own family in World War I, but it’s hard finding the time to research it. So if they want to have me on Who Do You Think You Are? and do it for me, that would be great!”

This special episode of Doctors can be seen on Friday July 18 at 1.45pm on BBC1.