Michael Stevenson interview reveals the behind-the-scenes development of Casualty’s special episode devoted to paramedic Iain Dean

Iain Dean’s descent into depression in Casualty, which culminated with a heart-breaking suicide attempt, was been a slow, thoughtfully developed storyline, carefully and conscientiously put together.

This week, in a bold move, Casualty devotes an entire episode, set over the course of a month, to paramedic Iain Dean without once setting foot in Holby Hospital. Iain is desperate to return to paramedic work, but before agreeing his boss Jan Jenning has requested he works at a 999 call centre and attend therapy sessions.

Here we talk to Michael Stevenson about Iain’s journey in this Casualty special…

Can you explain the set-up of this special episode?

Michael Stevenson: “This episode covers four weeks of Iain beginning his journey into recovery, and a huge part of that is accepting the help that’s being offered to him.”

Did it feel like an important episode to make?

MS: “Yes, massively so. From Iain’s perspective, what happens in this episode was never part of the plan. We went into this storyline and didn’t really know what was going to happen at the end of it, other than we wanted Iain to survive.

“As it’s has developed we’ve realised it’s not a story you can just put on the shelf. It’s very important to tell the next phase. Talking about how people recover is as important as talking about mental health issues.”

WOTV has seen the episode and found it authentic and brave…

MS: “Thank you. I think it’s an amazingly brave move by everyone involved to do this. It’s an episode where we never go into the hospital! We don’t visit the hospital because we’re focusing on the subject in hand. So we stick with Iain, the emergency call centre and the therapist.”

How does Iain cope with being in the 999 call centre environment?

Iain begins to open up working alongside the frontline 999 team

Iain begins to open up working alongside the frontline 999 team

MS: “Initially Iain’s a fish out of water at the call centre. He doesn’t really know why he’s there, but accepts it because his only answer is to get back to work. By being in this uncomfortable position he realises there’s another world beyond his personal situation.”

Iain’s been resistant to therapy for a while. Why does he agree to it now?

MS: “He has no option really. For Iain to get back to work, this is the course Jan has set him on. He’s still sceptical as to where that will take him, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

Frances Barber as Claire during intense therapy scenes with Iain

Frances Barber as Claire during intense therapy scenes with Iain

How was it working with Frances Barber, who plays Iain’s therapist Claire Wakelines?

MS: “Filming the therapy sessions was intense! Luckily I had Frankie Barber playing Iain’s therapist. She’s very talented and working with her was really special. Claire doesn’t force Iain into anything, but she’s quite firm. He knows he has to open up and talk.”

Casualty’s Paramedic Special airs on BBC1, Saturday 27 April at 8.20pm