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Doctors' Elisabeth: 'It was great to mess Zara up'

(Image credit: BBC)

Don't miss Doctors on Monday, February 13 (BBC1), when pregnant Dr Zara Carmichael suddenly goes into premature labour! Elisabeth Dermot-Walsh, who plays the character tells us about the life and death drama of the 'birth' episode... and whether it will be a happy ending for Zara and her medic partner, Dr Daniel Granger. How is Zara feeling about becoming a mum? "Having a baby is something Zara has wanted ever since she arrived in the series in 2009. So when we got to film the labour scenes, it was actually quite emotional." Where is Zara when she goes into labour? "She's actually in the surgery. It's lunchtime and the surgery is closed. Zara is stuck with Cherry and Simon, who are her least two favourite people! Zara has always pictured giving birth in hospital, surrounded by top doctors. So, let's just say things don't turn out quite how she'd planned. I think the viewers will be surprised when they see who has to deliver the baby!" What was it like filming the scenes? "It was quite nerve-wrecking. I haven’t ever been in labour personally, although I have given birth a few times on screen before. All you can do is consult with any mums that you know about the experience. You don’t want to let the audience down. I know we have lots of people who watch at home, who have children. But it's certainly not a beautiful birth. We didn’t suger-coat anything. Zara is normally so high maintenance with her appearance, so it was great fun to mess her up a bit!" What's it been like wearing the baby bump for months? "Oh, it has been absolutely wonderful! Normally, Zara wears these body conscious outfits. But because I had this prosthetic bump on for months and months, I didn’t have to worry about doing my sit-ups or feeling guilty for eating a doughnut. I made the most of not being under pressure to look more svelte! It was great!" What kind of parents will Zara and Daniel make? "As the baby is born prematurely, it is touch and go to see if he will survive. If he does, the next challenge will be to see how well Zara and Daniel take to parenthood. But I think they are both ready for it. This is all Zara has ever wanted. And, Daniel already has a daughter, Izzy, from a previous relationship." What's going on with Zara and Cherry? Will they ever be friends? "Zara and Cherry couldn't be more like chalk and cheese. Cherry is possibly more understanding of Zara. But Zara just doesn't hold back, and has been very dismissive of Cherry's wedding plans. In fact, they end up having a fight during Cherry's hen night!" A full-on cat-fight? "Yes, it all kicks off! We actually filmed the fight up near New Street in Birmingham. The camera was quite far away from us. So there we were, a heavily pregnant woman and the bride-to-be, screaming and shouting in the street. The hilarious thing is nobody batted an eyelid. They must be used to the site of bedraggled hen parties?!" Are you still having a good time playing Zara? "I love playing Zara. She behaves appallingly! She’s not a loveable person at all. I would not like her in real-life at all. I would not stand for her nonsense. She can be such a cow. But I love her. She’s magnificent!" Is there any chance of Doctors being repeated in the evening? "We do already have a wonderful audience who are home at lunchtime during the week. But we would love it if everyone else got a chance to watch it too. At first I didn't realise how passionately some people feel about Doctors. I once met a lady in the street who said, 'I am a carer, working from home. Daytime TV saves my life! It keeps me going.' That was so lovely and I have never forgotten that."

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.