Holby’s Joe McFadden: ‘Raf is arrogant… but brilliant!’

Former Heartbeat star Joe McFadden joins BBC1’s Holby as cheeky new registrar Raffaello di Lucca on Tuesday. Here, he tells us more about the maverick medic…

What’s Raf’s background?
“Raf’s worked in Japan, Singapore and America, specialising in cutting-edge resuscitation techniques. He’s quite arrogant, but he is a brilliant surgeon and basically tells Guy and Ric they’d be idiots not to give him the job as the new registrar on AAU. He certainly makes an entrance!”

We understand that Raf has quite a maverick approach to medicine…
“Raf does have a bit of a problem with authority and, in the first episode, he creates his own ECMO machine – it’s a pump that takes over the work of a boy’s lungs to allow medication to fight an infection. This is a pretty unorthodox and risky procedure, but Raf’s more concerned with the patient’s welfare than toeing the line.”

Is that what appealed you to about playing him?
“I like the fact that he’s so driven, so passionate and so brusque. Those are the interesting characters to play; the ones who are so focused on one thing and who rub people up the wrong way and cause conflict. Nobody wants to be the nice guy who trundles along getting on with everyone.”

Did you do any training for the role?
“I was very lucky that I got to go and watch some heart surgery – fortunately I’m not squeamish, I just find it thrilling. It was amazing and it gave me such a respect for what these guys do. You can understand why some surgeons have massive egos because day in, day out, they’re saving people’s lives.”

Obviously you’re only acting – but it is nice playing someone who has the power to save lives?
“The power thing is interesting. You’re seeing people at the worst time of their life, they’ve been given awful news and I just have such respect for the NHS, and surgeons and the work they can do. All the medical stuff is really interesting, but I have noticed I’ve been washing my hands a lot more. I just hope I don’t become a hypochondriac!”

What can you tell us about how Raf’s story develops?
“Raf’s all about shaking things up and bringing Holby bang up to speed with the rest of the world. He’s very focused on his career but, as we discover, there’s a price to pay for being as driven as he is.”