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George Rainsford — AKA Ethan Hardy — reveals ‘joyous’ reunions and ‘revenge’ plans in ‘Casualty'!

Ethan Hardy reunites with Cal Knight when Casualty returns to 2016 for its 35th anniversary special.
Ethan Hardy reunites with Cal Knight when Casualty returns to 2016 for its 35th anniversary special. (Image credit: BBC)

Ethan Hardy is front and centre when Casualty celebrates its 35th anniversary with an exciting, extended episode this Saturday (BBC1, 8.45pm, Saturday 14 August 2021 - See our TV Guide for listings).

During the anniversary special bereaved Ethan is so deep in mourning for his fiancée Fenisha Khatri that he winds up in the ED needing medical care, which leads to shocking revelations dating back to 2016!

Richard Winsor, Tony Marshall and Charles Dale reprise their roles as Ethan’s deceased brother Cal Knight, receptionist Noel Garcia, who died of Covid earlier this year, and former health care assistant Big Mac. Two new characters are also introduced, cavalier consultant Stevie (Elinor Lawless) and cheeky paramedic Teddy (Milo Clarke).  

Here George Rainsford, 39, who plays Ethan Hardy tells us more…

How is Ethan Hardy one month on from Fenisha's tragic death?

George Rainsford: "Ethan is, understandably, devastated by what’s happened. He hasn’t been working and is adamant he never wants to go near the hospital again. Holby at present represents everything awful that has happened recently. He does have Bodhi to look after, which I think has given him some focus otherwise he would have nothing to get out of bed for."

Can you reveal how he comes to be in the ED? 

GR: "He develops a fever which leads Charlie Fairhead to worry for his welfare and insist he gets checked over."

You have lots of lovely scenes with Derek Thompson, who plays original character Charlie. Was it special to work with him on the anniversary episode? 

GR: "It’s always a pleasure to work with Derek. He is synonymous with the show so it’s particularly special to share some scenes during our anniversary episode. 

"In story terms too, Charlie is one of the few people who understands Ethan’s past, his medical history, as well as the loss of his brother, Cal. Charlie is selfless, emotional support for Ethan."

The big news about this episode is the return of Cal, Noel and Big Mac. What can you tell us?

GR: "Ethan is troubled by a nagging memory. He can’t recollect the details of an event five years ago during which he had the opportunity to quit his job as a doctor. He sees it as an enormous regret that may have saved the lives of both Cal and Fenisha. 

"His subconscious in the form of Cal challenges him to remember what really happened and highlight to him that his life, and in particular his career, is worth fighting for."

Was it strange to revisit Ethan’s character from five years ago and being called ‘Nibbles’ again? 

GR: "It was really strange. Rich [Winsor] and I were both quite nervous for our first scene actually! But within five minutes of putting on the old glasses and scrubs it all clicked and we fell back into this really familiar dynamic. All the little Cal wind-ups and Ethan frustrations instantly reappeared, which was wonderful.

"Without giving away any spoilers, the nature of what we were filming this time around was very different from four years ago, so there were lots of new things to explore too."

You and Richard are friends in real life. Have you missed working with him? 

GR: "What I had really missed from working with Rich is his infectious corpsing  - the name we use for laughing during a take. He can’t control his breathing when he suppresses a giggle, and the agony on his face when he tries to do so is hysterical. It usually disrupts filming for a good half an hour once it starts!"

Cal kitted out in a superhero costume outside the ED

We imagine being asked to dress up as a superhero did nothing to help on set giggles! (Image credit: BBC)

How was it reuniting with Tony and Charles? 

GR: "It was joyous. I hadn’t seen Charles since he left, and the way in which Tony finished after 12 years on the show was so sad and impactful that it was really nice to have him back being the entertaining Noel we all loved. Tony is so funny too. I’ve never seen him in a bad mood or not making people laugh."

What do you think will make this a special episode for fans?

GR: "I think, as well as the return of some fan-favourites, the episode itself is unique in that it explores some events from five years ago that have a significant impact in the present. 

"It’s an origins story for some powerful storylines going into the new series. Namely a new consultant called Stevie Nash [Elinor Lawless] who has a very interesting, complicated connection to Ethan..."

Since joining Casualty, what has been your personal favourite storyline for Ethan?

GR: "Gosh, there have been so many. I have to say my time with Richard - either Charlie’s stag do or when the brothers stole the ambulance! Connie and Ethan’s trip to London, Bodhi’s birth, and Ethan and Fenisha’s wedding episodes were all highlights too!"

What is your favourite behind-the-scenes memory of working on the series? 

GR: "Even though we don’t exactly share storylines, my longest-serving scene partner is probably Amanda Henderson - and no one makes me behave more silly than her!" 

Who is your all-time favourite Casualty character and why?

GR: "Ethan Hardy, because even though we’re very different, there is something oddly familiar about him!"

Are the cast and crew marking the 35th birthday off-screen?

GR: "Good point. If our producer reads this can I suggest bowling and burgers?"

What is your earliest memory of watching Casualty?

GR: "I have a vague memory of an episode in which some thuggish youths burned down the hospital in the ‘90s. I was later told that one of them was played by Matt Bardock - Jeff the beloved paramedic!"

Casualty is going from strength-to-strength, why do you think it stands the test of time?  

GR: "As Will Beck [acting clinical lead Dylan Keogh] said in his speech when we won the BAFTA, I think at its best, Casualty dramatises the everyday. Fans want strong characters that are relatable, yet flawed, and stories that are dramatic, current and original.

"I’m constantly amazed what they come up with to keep the show feeling fresh, yet still honouring its core theme: everyday heroes. And, given the last 18 months, and everything we have seen our NHS and frontline workers do, that is something definitely worth celebrating."

Well said! We know new character Stevie is going to have an impact on Ethan’s future. Can you tell us more?

GR: "Stevie is a terrific new character. Brash, derisive, self-serving, sarcastic and played with such wit and vulnerability by Eli Lawless. I think her and Ethan will have a very complex and interesting relationship. 

"To begin with Ethan doesn’t recall meeting her five years ago. For her, however, it had a far more permanent, deeply upsetting impact. She arrives hell bent on revenge! Dramatic times ahead..."

Do you have any other upcoming storylines you can tell us about? 

GR: "The Stevie storyline is not something that resolves itself straight away. It’s a slow burner and runs in conjunction with Ethan trying to shake off his grief and recover. He reacts emotionally to grief but, instinctively, runs away from addressing his problems. But, as we know, they catch up with you in the end. 

"There is a great episode set over five days that explores his return to work and juggling his home life with Bodhi. Acceptance and finding peace in his own life will come about by being a great doctor and a kind and forgiving colleague. You’ll have to stay tuned to see if that’s possible!"

And, finally, how would you sum up Casualty’s special anniversary episode?

GR: "Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard said: ‘Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.’ Characters such as Faith, Stevie and Ethan need to explore their tragic past for clues on how to live now..."

Casualty’s anniversary episode will be available on BBC iPlayer after it airs on BBC1 at 8.45pm, Saturday 14 August 2021.