Charles Venn gives us an exclusive interview, as Casualty explores a shocking domestic abuse storyline involving Jacob Masters and Tina Mollett.
As fans of Casualty know, the BBC1 medical drama never shies away from tackling tough and sensitive subject matters. This Saturday, a special episode will see senior nurse manager Jacob Masters and his partner, locum nurse Tina Mollett, take centre stage as their domestic abuse storyline reaches a powerful climax.
In recent months, Jacob (played by fan favourite Charles Venn), on the rebound from clinical lead Connie Beauchamp (Amanda Mealing), has thrown himself wholeheartedly into a relationship with Tina (Adele James).
But while, on the surface, their romance seems to be going swimmingly, viewers now know that Tina is a mistress of manipulation, and her true colours are about to be exposed.
Here Charles Venn, 48, tells us about the challenges of portraying Jacob in such an important story...
Charles Venn reveals his first thoughts when he heard about Jacob and Tina's new storyline...
Charles Venn: "I couldn’t understand it initially — Jacob in a coercive, toxic relationship. But then I read up on the facts. A lot of men go through this, more than we realise, and I thought, ‘Okay, this is a challenge.’ It has been tough to play; harder than I thought it would be."
Jacob is usually such a strong and confident character. Do you think this will help highlight that it can happen to anyone?
CV: "Exactly that. Coercive behaviour is an ability to manipulate someone who opens up and trusts a parasitic person. Unfortunately this is the case with Jacob, he’s opened his heart to Tina, has strong feelings for her and believes he loves her, and she’s taking advantage of that."
Tina’s behaviour escalates this week — she spends £8,000 on Jacob’s credit card, belittles him, and even tries to control patient treatment. How does this affect him?
CV: "Jacob’s left doubting his work, his ethos, and himself. He’s completely in knots and questioning himself — and Jacob never questions himself. Even when he was with Connie, he knew who he was. But Connie wasn’t coercive; this is completely different.
"Tina takes this confident man with a passion for helping those in need and starts manipulating. He is so under her spell he just goes with it and, before you know it, he’s stuck."
In this special episode, viewers will see two alternative outcomes to several different confrontations — one where Jacob responds passively and one where he reacts assertively. How did you find that?
CV: "The assertive/passive approach helped immensely. It’s a very relatable depiction of what goes on in coercive behaviour. You become selective about what you want to confront. Do you decide to be assertive, knowing it will lead to an argument? Or do you leave it? You end up being more passive…"
How did you and Adele prepare for these difficult scenes?
CV: "We had lots of talks about finding a safe place for both of us. There were times when I needed to have a minute to myself to debrief, and vice versa. It was very intense.
"Adele is a wonderful, devoted and generous actress. It’s a pleasure to work with her. She brings an incredible dimension to Tina. People are going to be impressed with her portrayal and have mixed feelings towards Tina by the end of this story!"
Was it hard to switch off after filming?
CV: "Sometimes I’d be a bit edgy, because the storyline was a lot. But you can’t go half-hearted with a story like this. You have to do it justice. At the end of the day I needed a release so I’d go to the gym, and maybe have one little glass of red just to relax.
"I’ve been in the business for over 20 years, but have never felt the way I felt after this one. I felt vulnerable and very protective of Jacob."
This episode is set to be a very difficult watch for fans…
CV: "Yes, unfortunately it’s a painful, uncomfortable watch and there’s going to be a lot more. This is a long journey. It needs to be, because people have gone through it and are going through it as we speak.
"It’s difficult for me to see Jacob like this. Tina starts to ostracise and isolate Jacob from his friends, so a lot of her manipulations and machinations take place behind closed doors. It’s dark, it's harrowing, and it's sad."
We need Connie to return!
CV: "Yes, compared to this, Connie and Jacob’s relationship was picturesque. Jacob could do with Connie coming back so he can get a nice, lovely hug from her!"
Finally, on a different note, are you looking forward to celebrating Casualty’s 35th birthday in the coming months?
CV: "Yes, absolutely. It still hasn’t entirely sunk in that we’ve won a BAFTA — that’s two in four years. It’s a celebratory period right now for us.
"I can assure you that episode one and two of the new season are special [series 36 is set to begin later this year].
"Casualty viewers will definitely be licking their chops!"
If you are affected by the issues in this episode of Casualty please contact BBC Action Line
When will this episode of Casualty air?
This special two-hander between Jacob Masters and Tina Mollett airs on Saturday 24 July 2021 at 9.35pm on BBC1. It will be available on iPlayer after transmission.
Is there a trailer?
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