Teletext – September 2002

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It’s no casual contract

CASUALTY star Simon MacCorkindale has shown his commitment to the BBC by signing a three-year contract with its hit hospital drama.

Thanks to Holby.TV for this article

The dashing actor, 50, veteran of long-running US shows such as Falcon Crest, joined the show as caring consultant Harry Harper earlier this year and he says: “It is a big commitment. It is very intensive – we work 49 weeks a year.

“I was worried about the balance of my life and I am still a bit worried but I knew what I was doing. I have been in TV from a young age.”

The gruelling schedule means he doesn’t see Susan George, his wife of 18 years, as much as he’d like to. He uses a flat in Bristol during filming but tries to spend as much time as possible with Susan, who lives on their stud farm on Exmoor.

He says: “The apartment in Bristol makes sense for me as I do finish filming quite late some nights. Susan is looking after the stud farm – someone needs to be there 24 hours a day.”

But you never know, she might be tempted to make a guest appearance in CASUALTY. She’s no stranger to BBC drama as she played Terry’s conwoman girlfriend Margaret in EastEnders last year.

The couple also run their own production company Amy International and they are currently developing a TV series based on Dick Francis’s best-selling novels, set in the world of horse racing.

CASUALTY is his first major long-running UK TV drama since Simon moved from Hollywood, after success in films such as Jaws 3 and cult TV sci-fi show Manimal, in the mid-80s.

He laughs: “Obviously, the Hollywood experience doesn’t compare with working on CASUALTY on an industrial estate in Bristol.

“I have adapted but I still frequently ask for my Winnebago but it falls on deaf ears! The hours aren’t dissimilar to Falcon Crest.”

Simon MacCorkindale believes Harry, his character in CASUALTY, will make a big impact in the new series which kicks off in mid-September with a terrifying helicopter crash.

He chuckles: “I was in nearly every scene for that episode but it was a piece of cake cutting the leg off a guy who was trapped in the helicopter.

“Blood and gore doesn’t worry me. Because of the stud farm, I have seen some mucky things.

“I am really enjoying being back in a mainstream British TV drama. They are a great bunch of people and it’s wonderful to be in a flagship family show. I was in four shows in the last series and the reaction of fans has been fantastic.”

However, Simon has strong views that Harry should not get involved in sexual shenanigans with any of Holby’s attractive nurses. He is wed to a career woman with five children, the eldest a rebellious teenage girl.

“It bothers me a bit that there is a tendency in some dramas to let sex and violence lead the way but I don’t think the audience always wants that.

“I think TV needs characters of integrity like Harry who has a lot of expertise. I think we would lose things if he was brought down to the same common denominator as everyone else.”

Simon’s dramatic career began at eight when he wrote a play based on Sleeping Beauty.

That little acorn spawned a career that has included starring in the film Death On The Nile, US TV series Hart To Hart, Dynasty and The Dukes Of Hazzard.

Simon, who was once married to ex-Bond girl Fiona Fullerton, also produced the movie Stealing Heaven.

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