Jan Pearson explains what happens when a student shoots a terrified hostage in Doctors and Karen has to try and talk him out of hurting anyone else.

The Hollins family find themselves at the heart of a hostage situation in Doctors when a uni friend of Jack’s points a gun at him, Karen, Ellie and lecturer Sia while he traps them in a classroom. It’s a really dramatic storyline, isn’t it?
“It’s something like the Columbine story – this young man goes on a rampage around the university campus and the Hollins family are drawn into it over the week. It’s hugely exciting for us, we very rarely do a story that runs over five days and involving one family. It’s beautifully written and it’s quite scary at times so I look forward to seeing how people respond to it!”

How does Lewis end up staying at the Hollins’ family home?
“Lewis’s father persuades Karen that he can’t look after his boy over the Easter holidays because he’s working away. He flatters her saying that his son could use a woman’s touch and that’s all that Karen needs – a little bit of flattery. She’s a very open-hearted woman and is more than happy to house half of Letherbridge! She likes the idea of having a house full of teenagers that she can sort of cluck over. But it all goes horribly wrong!”

There are signs that things aren’t right from quite early on and Karen’s daughter Immie is one of the first people to notice…
“Yes, she picks up on that. She’s working on an art project which happens to be an exploration of gun crime. It becomes apparent that Lewis knows more about the subject than she does which she finds alarming. But Karen is oblivious to this because they have quite a nice relationship. Lewis is actually quite touched by Karen’s motherliness and she is duped by that. She doesn’t pick up on the signs that Immie sees. Both Karen and Rob are taken by Lewis’s polite nature and Jack’s obvious friendship with him. But as the week progresses they become very much aware of the danger Lewis presents to their family.”

How does Karen feel when she realises how dangerous this boy is?
“I think she feels very guilty about that, but that’s not what is pressing for Karen. For Karen it’s all about looking after her children. She goes into fight mode as she realises that Jack might be in danger. She was never meant to be in the classroom, but she goes in search of Jack. She’s given an opportunity to leave by Lewis, but she refuses to leave her son. So she goes completely into the line of fire to protect her children.”

One of the hostages is shot. Do you think it was beneficial that Karen was there?
“Absolutely! She has no medical skills whatsoever but she knows to try and stop the bleeding and throws herself into that role. She also tries to talk Lewis down to some success but ultimately not…”

The Holins family have gone through quite a lot with Jack’s affair – do you think the hostage situation will bring the family together?
“I think it does initially, they kind of look to themselves for comfort. But the whole family have to bounce back ready for the next time they get knocked down because I’m sure there’ll be another time!”

See the dramatic storyline unfold all week at 1.45pm from Monday January 25 on BBC1.

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