Casualty star Crystal Yu: ‘Lily is doing a very grown up thing!’

Lily Casualty
Lily's got her eye on a future without Iain (Image credit: BBC/Alistair Heap)

Crystal Yu reveals why Casualty doctor Lily Chao chooses a big career move over her ailing relationship

The news is out about Lily. Crystal Yu is leaving BBC1’s Casualty this Saturday. And, as sad as that makes us here at What’s on TV, Lily’s not gone yet!

We seized our opportunity to talk the talented star about her final episode and where she thinks it all went wrong for doctor Lily Chao and paramedic Iain Dean…

Here Crystal talks heartbreak in Holby…

Crystal, you’re breaking a lot of Casualty fans’ hearts. Are you ready to take responsibility for the reaction on Saturday?

"I will, I promise! I’m going to do an Instagram live afterwards as I want to say thank you to everyone."

Will Lily leave Iain without looking back?

Will Lily leave Iain without looking back? (Image credit: BBC / Alistair Heap)

What is behind your decision to leave?

"I have to say it was my decision to leave but it almost broke my heart. Back in January I was offered another year and when I told them I couldn’t everyone understood. We film Casualty in Cardiff and I’ve put my personal life in London aside. There are things I need to sort out and I wasn’t able to do that from Cardiff. So it was a necessary decision but I couldn’t stop crying – and I’m such an ugly crier!"

Your exit storyline is really poignant. Was it difficult to film?

"Yes, because it’s my last episode I thought it was my last chance to prove what I could do. I’m so thankful to director Matthew Evans because he approached the episode with sensitivity and compassion, but also the strength I needed."

Did you feel a lot of pressure to do Lily and Casualty justice?

"Definitely. But Matthew came to me and said ‘Crystal, don’t be afraid to just breathe.’ He reminded me I’ve played Lily for over four years and I didn’t need to push or prove anything because I know who she is. He allowed me to take my time and tell the story. I’ve a lot to thank him for."

Tell us about the nitty gritty of Lily’s exit. Is it tied to Iain and the Hong Kong research post?

"Lily isn’t leaving Holby in easy circumstances. If she was single I think she would have leapfrogged over her colleagues in the ED to propel her career upwards with the research post. But she’s feeling very vulnerable in her relationship with Iain (Michael Stevenson) and the return of his ex, Sam (Charlotte Salt). The research post has come up at a very good time. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise."

Three's a crowd, so Lily's hotfooting it to Hong Kong...

Three's a crowd, so Lily's hotfooting it to Hong Kong... (Image credit: BBC / Alistair Heap)

Is she in love with Iain?

"Yes, for the first time Lily’s genuinely fallen in love. Love has always been very logical for her. She’s chosen partners that are ‘right’ for her intellectually. Iain caught her by surprise and made her feel vulnerable. Then Sam comes along and Lily doesn’t know where she stands."

Let’s talk about Lily’s jealously. What’s your opinion on it?

"It’s quite right Lily is jealous! Her jealously hasn’t come from nowhere. If Iain had been honest with her when Sam returned to Holby and said he wanted to 100% be with Lily, she would have been fine. But she’s heard all the rumours through colleagues! Sam has a history of cheating on partners and stealing other people’s boyfriends so it made Lily really insecure…"

Do you think Iain fuelled their problems?

"He hasn’t been acting like a boyfriend. He spends his days working with Sam and yet at the end of the day he wants to spend the evening in her company too. That he wants to be around Sam and not Lily, who he’s not seen all day, isn’t very sensitive, which made her even more insecure!"

Idealistic Lily back when she first joined Holby ED

Idealistic Lily back when she first joined Holby ED (Image credit: BBC/RichardAnsett)

How does the decision to leave Iain and Holby affect Lily?

"Leaving definitely isn’t an easy decision. Lily has to break her own heart to walk away from Iain. Compare Lily to how she was when she first arrived – she was an idealistic doctor who didn’t really care about anyone else, only her career. So for her to have fallen in love with Iain and yet walk away from it… She doesn’t want to be in a relationship that makes her insecure and where she feels secondary. Lily’s doing a very grown up thing!"

Watch Crystal’s exit in Casualty on BBC1, Saturday 4th November at 8.20pm.

Elaine Reilly
Writer for TV Times, What’s On TV, TV & Satellite Week and What To Watch

With twenty years of experience as an entertainment journalist, Elaine writes for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and covering a variety of programs from gardening and wildlife to documentaries and drama.


As well as active involvement in the WTW family’s social media accounts, she has been known to get chatty on the red carpet and wander into the odd podcast. 

After a day of previewing TV, writing about TV and interviewing TV stars, Elaine likes nothing than to relax… by watching TV.