Chelsea Halfpenny: 'Casualty reminded me why I left Emmerdale'

(Image credit: BBC)

Emmerdale star Chelsea Halfpenny (opens in new tab) joins Casualty this Saturday (BBC1, September 19) in special semi-regular role involving fan favourite Doctor Lily Chao.

Chatting to What’s on TV (opens in new tab) about her new role as trainee doctor Alicia Monroe Chelsea reveals what’s in store on Casualty, and explains why leaving Emmerdale was a good move…

Have you enjoyed working on the Casualty set?

"I’ve loved it and had the best time. I did an episode of it when I was 10 years old. I played a kid with a broken leg when it was still filmed in Bristol, so it’s very different now to how it was then. It was great [this time] to see Wales, as I’d never been before, and I met with lots of lovely people."

What can you tell us about your character, Alicia Monroe?

"She’s very different to Amy Wyatt, who I played in Emmerdale (opens in new tab). Amy lied quite a lot, but Alicia is very happy-go-lucky and sees the positive side to everything. She’s just graduated from medical school and is doing her training in Holby. Clinical lead Connie Beauchamp gets her to shadow Lily, but with her bubbly personality and blonde and pink hair Alicia bugs Lily a bit!"

Does Alicia annoy any of the other characters?

"No, mostly just Lily really! Things are coming up that reveal Lily’s going through an emotionally tough time, and the last thing she needs is someone like Alicia around! I don’t think she irritates anyone else. They find her a bit ditzy at first, but it turns out she’s not as ditsy as she seems, when she notices something about a pregnant patient the others don’t."

Does she have a tough first shift?

"Alicia’s first day of training in Holby is hell on earth and she has to deal with things head on! So when she spots things about a vulnerable patient the others don’t everyone, apart from Lily, is impressed. Connie even says they should all take a leaf out of her book."

Could this be a long-term role for you?

"It’s a semi-regular role, and you’ll see why once it all is on screen! The door has certainly been left open though. It was a really nice few episodes for me and I really enjoyed it – it’s action-packed and I had a great time."

Is working on Casualty as intense as working on Emmerdale?

"It’d definitely just as intense. The scenes in Casualty take slightly longer because of the medical aspect, which was really fun to do. I had to learn to stitch too, because they get you to do it yourself as much as possible! Both shows have really nice people to work with."

Was it a difficult decision to leave Emmerdale?

"Yes, really hard. I was having the time of my life! At the time I was only 22 and weighing up my options and considering advice I realised I wanted to try other jobs. I left while I was really enjoying myself and have it as an amazing memory. I still talk to everybody there and I do miss it. But I think I made the right decision. When I did Casualty it reminded me I’d left because I wanted to do other things."

What sort of impression to you think Alicia will make on the Casualty audience?

"I hope it’s a good one. She might irritate some people with her bouncing around, but I really hope not. She’s a young and kind person. Lily might come across quite harsh when she clashes with Alicia, but Alicia sees Lily (Crystal Yu (opens in new tab)) for what she is. They could have a really nice friendship..."

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 (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab) 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.