Casualty viewers have missed the charismatic consultant Harry Harper since he left Holby General last February. But now he’s back!
Harry Harper is arguably TV’s most debonair doctor. But in the flesh, Casualty actor Simon MacCorkindale (55) is, if possible, even more dashing. Immaculately dressed and speaking in deep tones, which are every bit as reassuring and in control as his on-screen alter ego’s, he surely is every woman’s idea of a dream doctor. Many of the letters Simon receives express the wish that he was a real doctor.
“I even get letters describing symptoms and asking me for my opinion,” he says with a smile. “Having played Harry for seven years, it goes without saying that I’ve taken on the look and mannerisms of a hospital consultant. It’s funny- one of the real-life doctors who advises us on Casualty is always saying that if he and I did a ward round together in a proper hospital, everyone would think I was the consultant.
“There’s the danger that you start to believe that you are one – I have been in situations where people have asked if a doctor’s present and I’ve almost stepped forward! I’ve learnt enough from Casualty to know that you should be calm in an emergency but, at the end of the day, I’m an actor. Harry Harper isn’t real.”
Harry’s back on the wards, having left medicine for politics when he became an MR Desperate, disillusioned Guppy went to Westminster to plead with Harry to return to Holby General. Harry refused, but happily he’s had a change of heart.
“He’s back in Holby as consultant manager,” Simon reveals. “He realises he’s of more use in this role than as an MP It’s something of an about-turn for him. Before, he was at loggerheads with manager Nathan over budgets and how the hospital should be run, but now Nathan’s had a breakdown and Harry’s actually fighting to save Nathan’s job. Plus he now has to consider the financial side of things.”
Before Casualty, Simon starred in the American soap, Falcon Crest, and several movies, including the star-studded Death on the Nile (1978) with Peter Ustinov.
And during his sabbatical from Casualty, he starred in a touring production of the Agatha Christie thriller, The Unexpected Guest, and also spent time at the stud farm he and his wife, Susan George, run in Somerset.
“What we really want is to be known as one of the world’s best breeders of Arabian horses,” he enthuses. “We have around 70 at the moment. I love acting,but the stud farm is also a real passion. I’m sure our vet keeps getting fed up with me I keep trying to tell him what to do because of what I’ve learnt on Casualty!”