The Casualty Spring trailer has raised many questions - especially when it comes to doctors Stevie Nash and Matthew Afolami.
Matthew (Osi Okerafor) is seen losing his temper in Resus, getting a dressing down from clinical lead Dylan Keogh (William Beck), keeping lists of deceased patients’ names, suffering intense nightmares, and accusing Stevie (Elinor Lawless) of sexual harassment.
These storylines kicked off in earnest, in the first of two Casualty episodes on BBC1 (8.40pm and 9.20pm on Saturday 26 February 2022), which saw the couple’s casual relationship grind to a dramatic halt.
It opened with Stevie confronting Matthew about his night terrors. He in turn calls time on their romance and comes up with a disturbing new coping strategy to quell his PTSD from his time as a war medic - which leads him down a dark and dangerous path that could also spell the end of Stevie’s career.
This week the storyline develops further when Matthew officially accuses Stevie of sexual harassment.
We caught up with Elinor Lawless to chat about this intense storyline, quiz her on the revelations in the Casualty Spring trailer, and find out why Stevie attempts to support Matthew, despite his repeated venomous rebuttals!
'Casualty' interview: Stevie and Matthew’s new trauma-themed storyline kicked off in Feb. What ignites the dramatic chain of events?
Elinor Lawless: "Matthew and Stevie have this friendly, physical relationship - that's the PG version! But she’s aware that something is going on with him. He has full body nightmares and, basically, that has repercussions for them as friends in a physical relationship. Stevie knows something's up but she doesn't know if it’s her place to fix it. It sets them, as a couple, on a trajectory that spirals quite quickly. What we see here is the breakdown of communication…"
We see Matthew embark on a troubling ‘life-for-a-life’ strategy to cope with his PTSD. Will it bring him to a lonely place?
EL: "Yes, and what these episodes highlight beautifully is the isolation that comes from trauma - and also the self-isolation when trauma goes unchecked and untreated. Stevie recognises that in Matthew, due to the trauma that she endured at the death of her sister, which put her in a very small, angry bubble."
How would you describe her approach?
EL: "She wants to bulldoze there in there like a little pit bull, but when she's in the room, she's like, ‘Oh, what do I do now?’ There is a sense of frustration when she can’t fix a problem - a real sense of throwing your hands up. She likes to be able to go in, sort it out, and dash! But, even with the best of intentions of wanting to help, she just doesn’t know how."
It sounds like a time of emotional turmoil for her and Matthew…
EL: "That’s the thing, there's not a lot of processing going on with Stevie, she doesn’t take the time to.
"Matthew has endured unspeakable trauma. We read about veterans - the loneliness of that unique place, of having seen the worst of humanity, and trying to slot back into an everyday life. That must be hugely painful. I can't begin to imagine what it must be like to try and find meaning in the everyday. This storyline shines a light on the repercussions it can have for a person."
In Feb’s second episode we saw Stevie deal with the heartbreaking death of a child patient. It really brings home how traumatic the life of a medic can be…
EL: "Yes, even when we were filming this episode with the death of the child, people on set were affected. Medics don’t un-see those faces. They don’t forget them. What medics go through every day… They have to carry some serious stuff, while also getting on the job. It's never ending. For some people there's a huge fall out from those situations, that’s what you see with Matthew - he’s ploughing on and trying to run from it."
We will see Matthew behave very aggressively towards Stevie in the coming episodes. Yet she never seems fazed by it. Why is that?
EL: "Stevie takes it with a pinch. There’s a fight in Stevie. She’s like, ‘You want to shout? Okay, I’ll shout louder.’ She’s not intimidated or alarmed by it - she sees it for what it is. She doesn't fear for her own safety. She’s just like, ‘Dude, what's going on?’ I think that’s alarming for Matthew."
Matthew’s going to accuse Stevie of sexual harassment. Can you give us a hint on what the future holds?
EL: "Stevie’s not afraid to have the hard conversations. She’s not afraid to stand her ground. She's like a dog with a bone. It’s interesting and I think it will raise a lot of questions for viewers. The relationship takes an unexpected turn."
How is it working with Osi on these intense scenes?
EL: "He’s so lovely. Because he’s so gentle himself, I think a kind-of fragility comes through. And it’s something Stevie can’t ignore - as much as she sometimes wants to. Osi plays Matthew’s vulnerability really nicely."
Without giving too much away, in theory, would you like to see them together?
EL: "I just don’t know if they have space for each other's stuff. I think that’s why, up to this point, it’s remained a purely physical relationship. Neither of them really know how to go there emotionally. In theory, it would probably be a disaster!"
The Casualty double-bill episodes Balancing the Books and Apron Strings aired on BBC1 at 8.40pm and 9.20pm on Saturday 26 February 2022. Both episodes are available on BBC iPlayer.
Casualty episode Trigger airs on BBC1 at 8.35pm on Saturday March 26 2022. It will be available on BBC iPlayer after transmission.
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With twenty years of experience as an entertainment journalist, Elaine writes for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and www.whattowatch.com 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.