There are harrowing scenes in this week’s Casualty, as nurse Robyn Miller gives birth in a graveyard. Amanda Henderson reveals the reality behind the distressing scenes…
We talked to Amanda Henderson, who plays the vulnerable nurse, about filming the traumatic scenes of Robyn and David’s potentially deadly misadventure…
Giving birth, in the rain, in a graveyard, with a mentally ill nurse and no phone. Surely this is the ultimate nightmare! How was it to work on? "The weather was constantly against us on this shoot. It was filmed in November and we had to stand down for a while because of thunder, lightening and hail - all in an hour! And the rain was just constant. But you get used to it. I was wrapped up warm when I wasn’t giving birth on a gravestone without any clothes on!"
This location shoot was also a night shoot. Did you do anything to prepare for it? "Night shoots are hard work. I don’t normally do them so I tried get into the night shoot mode beforehand by going out with my friends. I didn’t drink, even though they all were, and attempted to keep up with them. It was difficult to stay awake but it got me into the swing of working at night!"
Do you enjoy getting off the hospital set and onto a filming on location? "It’s always nice to get out of the hospital. I get really comfortable on the set because I know where I am – most of the time. So when they take me out on location I get giddy like a child who’s been let out of school for the day!"
Did it have any knock-on affects in your personal life? "Crystal Yu, who plays Lily in Casualty, is my housemate. At the time she was on day shifts and I was on nights – so it worked out perfectly, as one of us was working while the other was sleeping!"
How was it working with Jason Durr, who plays David, on these scenes? "Jason and I worked closely on this because we really wanted to do the script justice. It’s the pinnacle of both Robyn’s storyline and David’s storyline. Bringing the two together meant we worked carefully on our research and background."
Were you both worried about getting the tone right? "There are so many people who have gone through horrendous births like Robyn, and there are so many people dealing with bipolar and other diseases like David. Both Jason and I would hate to offend anyone."
What research did you do? "As I’ve never given birth in my life I watched a lot of videos of people giving birth. Never, ever do this. Potentially, it’s the worst thing I’ve ever done for a job!"
Did you talk to anyone to help you understand what Robyn’s going through? "I was really fortunate to have so many women about me on set who’d given birth. They helped me, and we also had a midwife who advised us about how things would happen. I have to say it was terrifying!"
It’s a scary time for Robyn. How dangerous does it get for her? "At first, when David takes off with Robyn, she is adamant she can calm him down. But she doesn’t realise quite how far along her baby is. When they get to the graveyard Robyn realises she has no control. David’s not in a fit state to be anywhere but in a hospital. And Robyn’s in no fit state to be anywhere other than a hospital.
"When Robyn goes into fully-fledged labour in the middle of nowhere and no one around to help, she’s frightened. Although David is a nurse and her friend, he’s not mentally stable, and at this point she’s terrified of him. He’s someone she doesn’t know…"
Watch Amanda and Jason in action this Saturday on BBC1 at 8:40pm
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