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Thread: Casualty's series producer Oliver Kent DS interview ********CONTAINS SPOILER***********

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    Cool Casualty's series producer Oliver Kent DS interview ********CONTAINS SPOILER***********

    Casualty's series producer Oliver Kent recently had a chat with Digital Spy about future plans for the BBC's flagship medical drama.

    Which storyline are you most proud of from the past year of Casualty?
    "The highlight for me has been the Ruth story and her descent into serious illness and then her recovery. I liked it because it took a long time to play out. I also think it surprised the audience because it wasn't quite what they were expecting, so when they saw Ruth getting married to Edward, they wouldn't have necessarily known where it was heading. But we knew all along and it was quite satisfying to see the audience going along on the journey. So that was probably my highlight, and I also liked the fact that Charlie was very involved in the story."

    Do you have a favourite episode from the last year?
    "I think it would be the one where we spent the whole episode in the psychiatric ward with Ruth. Partly because I think it was the best script that had been written in a long time, partly because it was very well directed, and also because Georgia Taylor, Derek Thompson and Matthew Kelly are such fantastic actors so it was lovely to see them have the room to take up a whole episode."


    Does Ruth's journey still have some way to go?
    "She's definitely on her way to recovery and she will get better. But it'll take a bit of time and it's important to show that people don't get better overnight, otherwise it would just look like we were doing it for cheap value."

    It's Casualty's 25th anniversary in September, so can you tell us anything about what's in store for it?
    "The 25th anniversary will give us a lovely chance to look at some of the favourite moments and characters in Casualty over the years, but I can't confirm any details at the moment. There's a lot happening at that time as we're also moving production to Cardiff, so our main priority is to achieve that with minimum disruption to everybody - including the viewers. The audience won't necessarily notice the change - the fictional hospital is staying in the same place - but there are some big episodes coming up towards it and just afterwards. And we have several new characters arriving and one or two departing, so there's going to be quite a bit of change heading towards and just after the 25th anniversary."

    Is there any pressure to live up to the big anniversary celebrations that we've seen on Coronation Street and EastEnders in recent times?
    "Well, we knew that there were certain things that we didn't want to do. We didn't want to do a live episode because everybody else had already done it. There is a certain amount of pressure, but there always is. There's always pressure to compete with The X Factor, Britain's Got Talent and all those other shows, so the pressure for this actually isn't that different than normal! But everybody is very aware of it."

    Will there be a sense of nostalgia for the anniversary or is it more about the here and now? Could any former cast members return?
    "There's a bit of both, actually. There's always a certain amount of nostalgia that fuels what we do, because the show has got such a prominent history. We're not necessarily bringing back old characters, but I wouldn't want to give away too much just yet about what we're doing for the anniversary."

    When you get to 25 years, is there a part of you that stops and considers how to keep the show strong for the next 25 years and beyond?
    "Well the funny thing is, whenever we ask ourselves that question, the answer is always to look back at the original series and the original format. All of the things that have made the show run for 25 years are in there, so it's never about trying to do anything that's radically different or trying to be something else - it's about staying true to what Casualty has always been."

    Over on Holby City, there's been lots of stylistic changes in recent times and there's been comparisons to big US shows like Grey's Anatomy. Do you ever keep that in your thinking for Casualty?
    "Well, I think the root of Holby City is very different from Casualty. We tend to be inspired predominantly by British drama - particularly the dramas of the '60s, the kitchen sink dramas. Inevitably there is some inspiration from American dramas, but we very consciously don't base our style on anyone else because we have a very long history and a very established format. The most important thing is to be true to that."

    You mentioned new characters - can you tell us who the new signings are?
    "We've got two new nurse characters and one new doctor. We felt that it was time to bring back some youth, and over the last few years we brought in junior doctors, although we did bring in Mads last year. Now we're bringing in two new nurses at the start of the new series - Lloyd Asike and Scarlett Conway. We're very excited about the castings. Scarlett is played by Madeleine Mantock, and it's her first job out of drama school and she's incredible. And Lloyd is played by the brilliant Michael Obiora, who viewers will probably know from Hotel Babylon, EastEnders and Grange Hill. He's phenomenal. And then there's the doctor coming in a bit further along the line, who you'll hear more about at a later date."


    It's also recently been announced that Gemma Atkinson is joining Casualty as new paramedic Tamzin. What can the viewers expect from her?
    "She'll certainly ruffle some feathers! She and her paramedic colleague Omar, played by Dhafer L'Abidine, will definitely keep Dixie and Jeff on their toes. Dixie and Jeff are used to being the top dogs and suddenly they'll have to compete with this other glamorous pair of paramedics! Also, later on, there's another thorn in their side in the form of Louise, the ambulance dispatch, who unexpectedly pushes Dixie even further. So what starts out as quite a light-hearted story eventually turns a little bit darker."

    Do you have any more big-name guest appearances on the way?
    "Yes, we do! We have Anita Dobson, Andrew Sachs and Tina O'Brien. We also have Julian Glover who was in Star Wars and Gary Kemp who was in Spandau Ballet. There are quite a few coming up."

    Are there any plans on the horizon for Casualty to be broadcast in HD?
    "Yes! Just before the move to Cardiff, it will start being filmed and broadcast in HD. For the super-vigilant fans, episode 15 and 16 of the new series will see the start of filming in HD."

    Some of the fans seem to be slightly concerned about the move to Cardiff and whether it could result in cast departures. Can you give any reassurances over that?
    "There will be some changes in the make-up of the cast leading up to and after the move to Cardiff, but the heart of the show will remain exactly the same. The show won't look that different - it's still set in Holby. All the road signs will still be in English and it will still be the same show. It may look slightly different and the set will be slightly bigger, but the vast majority of the cast are staying. Some are not, but most are staying."


    We've just seen the character of Linda Andrews return to our screens as a new regular. Are there any big plans on the horizon for her?
    "Yes, Linda has a massive story leading into the new series, where she will find herself getting involved up to her neck in a very dark situation involving a couple of characters. One of those characters is played by Tina O'Brien and the other is played by Naomi Bentley. Linda's desire to help out and do the right thing, albeit in Linda's inimitable and slightly rebellious style, leads her into a little bit of trouble."

    Fans of Zoe feel that it's been very quiet for her, so does she have any good stuff on the way?
    "There's quite a lot planned for Zoe, yes! It had gone quiet for quite some time, partly because we had other characters who had more pressing storylines that we were getting through, but we do have a lot planned. We'll see her rise in the ascendancy and take on a lot more responsibility within the Emergency Department, so she becomes more senior. And also, what's much more fun is that we'll see a rather delicious interaction between her and Dylan."


    Nick Jordan's fans have also made similar comments about him, so will he be more prominent moving forward?
    "Yes, absolutely. We're making sure that in the new series and beyond, we'll see Nick and Charlie becoming prominent again. They'll become a real central force uniting the department."

    We've had loads of people asking whether Nick and Zoe will reunite. Could it happen?
    "No. I think the fact that they have been a couple informs the way they are now - it forms the dynamic and the chemistry between them. But we don't have any plans to bring them back together as a couple."

    How about Ruth and Jay?
    "There's a big storyline planned for Ruth and Jay. I don't want to give away too much about what it is, but fans of Ruth and Jay will not be disappointed."

    People are also keen to find out what's going on with Tess and whether she'll get her old job back…
    "They don't have to wait very long to see that situation resolved. We deliberately put Tess in a situation that she would find very challenging, and we hoped that the audience would want to see her fight to get her old job back. That situation will resolve itself within a few weeks."

    Could Adam have any happiness on the horizon?
    "Events for Adam will take a surprising turn over the next few weeks. He realises what he needs to do to get his life back on track and make himself happy."


    Would you ever consider giving Noel or Big Mac bigger storylines or do you prefer having them around for comedy purposes?
    "We always refer to them as the glue that holds the department together - they do that exceptionally well and we love them for it. From time to time, if writers want to write for them, they do. So in the new series, there's a really, really sweet episode where Noel looks after a patient himself. I think generally their function is to be the backbone of the gang, but it's up to the writers."

    Are there any plans to bring back Cheryl Campbell as Miriam?
    "We haven't thought about it, actually. Our main priority at the moment is making sure that Jordan is back at the top of the tree, so we really didn't want anyone in his way for a while. The reason we ran that story was to reboot Jordan - we wanted to get his mojo absolutely back, so we brought in this rather soft, gentle and nice character. One might think that would make Jordan realise that he needs to be soft and gentle, but in fact it's completely the reverse, which we all really enjoyed! Now that's done, I don't think there's any particular need for that character right now, but we loved having her around and Michael and Cheryl got on extremely well."

    Finally, which other characters should we be keeping an eye on over the next few months?
    "Keep an eye on Adam over the next few months because his descent into darkness becomes very pronounced. Watch Dylan as we'll get to know him a little bit better and find out what makes him tick. And also, look out for Ruth as she comes back to the department. We'll get to know Linda a little bit better and we'll resolve the issue with Tess and her job. And we've got quite a lot of good stunts leading up until the end of the series…"

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    https://www.digitalspy.com/soaps/eas...-kent-leaving/

    EastEnders' top boss Oliver Kent is leaving his role after more than 20 years with the BBC, Digital Spy can confirm.

    Kent has spent the past two years in the role of Head of Continuing Drama for BBC Studios, overseeing EastEnders alongside Casualty, Holby City, Doctors and Scottish soap River City.

    Digital Spy has now learned that Kent has decided to leave the organisation to explore new opportunities.

    Mark Linsey, Chief Creative Officer for BBC Studios, commented: "We would like to thank Ollie for his significant contribution to BBC Studios' continuing drama. Under his watch we have seen some huge programmes, fantastic storylines, incredible one-offs and numerous awards.

    "During his time in the role, he oversaw the successful win of two tenders, securing Holby City and Doctors within the BBC Studios portfolio.

    "In addition, his commitment to making BBC Studios and our programmes more diverse and inclusive must be recognised and celebrated. We wish him all the best for the future."

    Former Coronation Street and Emmerdale boss Kate Oates has recently taken over as Senior Executive Producer on EastEnders, Casualty and Holby City.

    When Oates's role was announced in the summer, it was confirmed that she'd report in to Kent. Succession plans for Kent will now be announced in due course.

    EastEnders has also recently appointed Casualty story producer Jon Sen as Executive Producer and he'll help to execute Oates's vision for the show next year.

    Prior to his stint as Head of Continuing Drama, Kent served as Executive Producer on Holby City and Casualty from 2013. He originally joined the BBC in 1996, rising through the ranks in various production roles.

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