George Rainsford has plenty to tell us about consultant Ethan Hardy and his love life in Casualty. Ethan could do with the calming presence of First Dates maître d’ Fred Sirieix this week when he embarks on his first romantic rendezvous since the tragic death of his fiancée, paramedic Fenisha Khatri.
There's a Casualty double-bill on Saturday, April 30 on BBC1 at 8.40pm and 9.20pm, and in the second of those episodes the flustered medic has dinner with police officer Amy (Doctor Who star Catrin Stewart) and nervously opens their meeting with the classic clanger, ‘Do you come here often?’
As the episode explores whether Ethan is ready to move on, fans of the BBC1 medical drama will be pleased to hear that actor Olivia D’Lima reprises her role as Fenisha in flashback sequences.
Here, in an exclusive interview, George Rainsford tells us much more about this new chapter for Ethan in Casualty…
Thanks for taking time out from your busy filming schedule to chat to us, George!
George Rainsford says: "My pleasure! I’ve got my family on set today and they’ve just done a quick tour, which has been fun. It’s the first time for ages that we’ve been able to have people in the studio, and my kids [George and his wife, actor Jaimi Barbakoff, have two boys] have been looking at the prosthetics and weird stuff! Until recently, I don’t think they quite understood my job, but now they’ve got a better idea."
This Saturday’s special episode of Casualty centring on Ethan has three interwoven timeframes – one where Fenisha is still alive, another when Ethan meets Amy, and the present-day date night. How was it filming this?
George says: "I have never done an episode where I’ve been in absolutely every scene, so it was a really busy fortnight’s filming. It’s one of those slightly left-of-centre episodes that’s a bit different and can be divisive. I’m intrigued by what people will think. It feels integral to Ethan and Fenisha’s story."
Fenisha died in a car crash accident on their wedding day last July. How is Ethan coping with his grief?
George says: "He’s been dealing with it by getting back to work and focusing on their son, Bodhi. On screen, we don’t see Ethan dwell on it, but I’m sure, off-screen, there are plenty of moments and wobbles. Some of him has recovered, but there’s still a sadness at his core. It’s really nice that Olivia’s back in this episode, because Fenisha and Ethan got engaged and then, in the next episode, she died!"
Can you give us any teasers about the flashback scenes featuring Fenisha?
George says: "It’s set in the happy period when Ethan and Fenisha were in engagement bliss. There’s a scene with a sweet little dog that wasn’t the easiest to film. We were putting a bandage on its paw, but it kept pulling it off and licking the pretend blood! We had to go with the flow and add a few lines! Olivia and I find it easy to work together; we slipped straight into a natural chemistry."
Ethan and Amy meet in their lines of duty, don’t they?
George says: "Yes, Ethan initially meets Amy when she tries to interview one of his patients, Lee [The Split star Damian Lynch], who’s a suspect in a robbery. She thinks Ethan’s getting in the way of her police work, and he feels she’s getting in the way of him being a doctor. They rub each other up the wrong way, but they are brought closer together after an intense day saving Lee’s life and she suggests going for a drink…"
How does their date go?
George says: Ethan’s dating technique isn’t great! I think he would rate the date quite highly, but Amy, well, no one wants to be cried on during a first date, do they? Ethan’s a Doctor Who fan and Catrin played a recurring character in that show [maid Jenny Flint from 2011-2014], so it’s strange that he doesn’t recognise her! But it’s a really fun setting to put Ethan in."
Were your chat-up lines better than Ethan’s?!
George says: "Oh gosh, no! My dating technique was to drink all the wine and see what happens!"
Could we see more of Amy in the future?
George says: "I’d like to think so. Amy works under Ffion Morgan [the police officer played by Stirling Gallacher] and she’s got her own stuff going on. You learn that there’s a reason why she’s angry and confrontational. She has experienced domestic violence and has a series of slightly crazy exes. There are things to explore…"
Was it fun filming Ethan and Amy’s date outside of the hospital set?
George says: "Yes, it was nice to get out of the studio and do something a bit different. We had a whole week filming in a restaurant, but it sounds nicer than it was in reality. It was January, just after Christmas, and there was no heating. It looks cosy and candlelit, but, in between takes, we had our coats on!"
Were there any other challenges?
George says: "The eating scenes were a challenge! I hate watching things where people don’t eat, so I was consciously eating and drinking in shot. I remember years ago doing a big dinner party scene on Call the Midwife as my character [George played Jimmy Wilson in the BBC1 period drama] had been invited to Sunday lunch. I gobbled a massive slice of corned beef, and after that I had to keep eating it in every take – that was a mistake!"
Finally, is it true that you love telling ‘dad jokes’ on the Casualty set?
George says, laughing: "I’m in that phase of life! I’m turning 40 this year and I’m a dad, so this is it – bad puns! In a Casualty episode that aired recently, we had to tweak a scene because something in another scene dropped. I wrote this terrible joke about how falling into the river Seine will make you insane, and it was used! I felt a bit bad – the writer was probably watching it thinking, ‘I didn’t write that!’"
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I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.