Tina Mollett’s shocking abuse of boyfriend Jacob Masters escalates into extreme violence in the next episode of Casualty (BBC1, 9.25pm, Saturday 21 August 2021 - See our TV Guide for listings).
Viewers will see Tina’s behaviour grow more perverse as she throws out Jacob’s mother’s jewellery, becomes uncontrollably jealous of his working relationship with new consultant Stevie Nash (Elinor Lawless), and attacks him with a glass framed photo of his mum, leaving him visibly injured and vulnerable... and results in Jacob asking Tina to marry him!
We talked to Adele James, who plays the nurse, and asked her to take us into the mind of Tina. Here, Adele reveals Tina’s backstory, thought process, and why things are going to get worse for Jacob (Charles Venn) after he proposes to his girlfriend....
Adele James, Tina was introduced to Casualty in July 2020 as a minor character. Did you know then that this abuse storyline was the works?
Adele James: "I actually knew from when I first auditioned, way back in 2019! We wanted it to be a slow burn because more often than not with domestic abuse cases it is a death by a thousand cuts. I had to really play the other side of her, that very sweet, kind, empathetic, warm, talented nurse.
"You have someone who appears to be very charming, pleasant and friendly, but they’re making little comments here and there. Gradually they isolate you from your friends, family, everything that is familiar to you. And, over time, you realise that you've become a part of something but you don't know how you got there…"
It’s interesting how far in advance Casualty planned this storyline…
AJ: "Definitely. It's interesting too how people picked up little things as we’ve gone along. There have been comments on social media with people saying ‘I’m not sure how I feel about what Tina just said there. I feel like it’s going in this direction.’ While other people are saying ‘No, no.’ You can see how people justify that kind of behaviour. I think we're all capable of being manipulative, but we’re not manipulative people; not consciously trying to hurt our partners, friends or family. But what Tina is doing is very conscious, and that's the difference."
What sort of feedback are you getting? When a TV favourite like Jacob comes under attack, sometimes the villain-player can as well…
AJ: "I was quite nervous about that when we started to film the peak of the storyline. But people have been really amazing. They recognise that we’re actors fulfilling a role. They also see the value and the importance of the storyline. The feedback has been mostly centred around how brave Casualty are for running a storyline like this and how important it is to highlight that this happens to men. I've been really glad about that. People have been wonderful."
Charles Venn has said that you both talked about how to approach this storyline. Did that help, especially with the violent scenes coming up?
AJ: "It was really useful. Those conversations are absolutely necessary. Charles is a wonderful actor and a good friend now. That makes doing something like this a lot easier. I think most actors would say that they want to take on a role like this at some point in their career, where they feel like they really get to transform, but it does take a huge emotional toll on the people involved. We had to make sure that we were really looking after each other and creating a safe space. That nothing that happened in a scene was going to seep out and affect us personally or our relationships with one another."
Casualty sounds like a nurturing working environment…
AJ: "It is! Everyone's really supportive. Considering we have lots of directors and crews across the storyline it really is remarkable how well looked after you feel. The pastoral care is wonderful."
Tina viciously attacks Jacob this week when she becomes jealous of Stevie Nash. What do you think is going on in her head? How does she get to this point of violence?
AJ: "It's a definite loss of control. Tina feels like she's drowning in this feeling of not being able to control [herself] when she sees Jacob placing his attention on other people. I discussed this a lot with the story team. Tina's background is one of abuse.
"She wasn't necessarily the victim of it herself, but witnessed it between her parents when she was younger at the hands of her father. She doesn't really know what real love is. Her way of trying to create ‘love’ is much the same as what she witnessed her dad doing — really unhealthy, controlling and vicious. It’s not really love. So, when she sees Jacob giving his love elsewhere, it makes her feel incredibly lonely. She spirals and spirals because her mind is going off on a million things. She’s getting worse and worse in her head and she can't claim it back until she knows that she's the only thing that he's focused on again..."
AJ: "It made more sense to me for the abuse she witnessed to be at the hands of a man, because I think that makes it hard for her to trust that any man could truly love her for who she is. I don't think she has ever felt like she's enough, and it's escalated.
"It’s ironically sad that she's getting what she really wants but is so paranoid that the rug’s going to be swept from under her feet that she self-destructs and destroys."
Does it help to have empathy for a character when you play them?
AJ: "I think so. In all honesty I love Tina, but I think I have to. I’m pretty sure nobody else does. I feel sorry for her. I do not justify or excuse any of her actions, but I have love for her. I think with help she could be that better version of herself. I just don't think that can happen in this relationship."
How does Tina justify her behaviour to herself?
AJ: "I have an acting coach and we've discussed at length that in order to be so paranoid Tina must love everything that Jacob is and does as equally as she hates everything that he does. She wants to be with him because he's a kind, loving, friendly, personable nurse and person. But they’re also the things that she hates about him and that make her feel insecure about herself. She lashes out because that insecurity makes her feel exposed and vulnerable. So she has to gain control again and the way that she does that is by hurting Jacob emotionally and physically."
Do you think she has genuine remorse afterwards?
AJ: "I think she does… and that’s what’s so tragic about it as the person playing her — she has these outbursts where she doesn’t know what else to do but attack. As soon as she's done it she regrets it. But that doesn't justify it. I don't think that means that she is worthy of forgiveness. Tina definitely needs professional, medical help in dealing with these emotions. And she needs to not be with Jacob! I don’t see a way in which these two can be together."
That’s what makes Jacob’s proposal so shocking...
AJ: "Yes... I don’t think Tina expects the proposal! It’s important to remember Jacob has a hero complex and Tina is very good at manipulating that against him. There is nothing wrong with wanting to save people, he's wonderful at his job and a very kind person, but he's managed to get himself into a relationship with somebody who knows how to manipulate that."
Tina also uses the memory of Jacob’s mother against him...
AJ: "Tina knows what a sensitive spot his mother is to him. It's the working of that relationship that leads him to propose. He sees an opportunity — at least this is what Charles and I discussed — to save Tina, where he couldn't save his mum. Tina's very aware of that. She knows what she's doing when she works the mother string to his bow."
There is a lot of rewatch value in these episodes…
AJ: "Thank you. I'm glad that it's being received in that way because I do think it warrants more than one watch in the same way that, when you see these things going on in real life, you have to go back and analyse what's happened and how you got to where you got to. What it was that played out, that led to things escalating."
What would you say to someone who may be affected by this Casualty storyline and recognises their life in it?
AJ: "Firstly I’d say that I am incredibly sorry because this must be awfully triggering to watch us play out. But also that I recognise their experience as valid, that their story matters and, in the safest way possible, they should absolutely seek support, guidance and help, whether that's a charity or a loved one. I believe them, I believe their story and what they're going through, and to try and seek help."
And finally, can you tease what happens after Jacob proposes to Tina?
AJ: "I would say, watch out, because it's going to get uglier. The problem is the more love Tina gets the more insecure she gets. The more Jacob commits to her, the worse it's going to get for the pair of them. Unfortunately, it's going to be a watch through your fingers job!"
This episode of Casualty will be available to watch on BBC iPlayer after it airs on BBC1 on Saturday 21 August 2021 at 9.25pm.
If you are affected by the issues in Casualty storyline please contact BBC Action Line
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