DIVA: For those readers who aren't
familiar with it, what kind of show is Doctors?
Lu: Doctors is a BBC Drama Series set in a
Midlands GP practice. It's on Monday to Friday at 1.45pm, so set
those "series record" buttons!
It strikes me as more overtly
"issues-based" than evening soaps like, for example, Coronation
The Doctors "formula" is that each episode has
continuing storylines surrounding the main cast but also a "story
of the day", usually centred around a patient. As a result, we can
tackle scripts that reflect the "issues" that a doctors' surgery
might encounter. This set up is one of the show's strengths. It
allows us to mix things up. A story of the day can be hard-hitting
and topical, or we can go off on a complete comedy tangent. I've
already been dressed up as an Octopus and Dolly Parton so the sky's
Do you think TV can change the way
people view minorities and/or social issues?
I think it can certainly go some way to
"normalising" what might seem unfamiliar or threatening to people
who haven't encountered these things in their own life. And, in my
mind, that's a major positive. On the flipside, however, some
viewers will see, for example, a gay character in a soap and
complain its being 'rammed down their throats' so the key is to
find the right balance.
Tell us about your character, Freya,
and what's happened to her on the show to date.
Freya made a big impact when she arrived and
has already been pigeon-holed by a lot of her colleagues. She is a
passionate women's activist but, underneath, isn't as together as
she makes out. She comes across as the eternal sloppy student -
jeans, trainers, never making any effort with her appearance. She'd
argue this is because she doesn't want to conform to social
conventions, but she hides behind her baggy jumpers, like we all
do. I don't think she truly believes she'll ever find herself in a
On screen, up until now, Freya has been seen
as a reactor and an accomplice - pushing along other character's
storylines. This month, that changes in a big way. The scripts
start to focus on finding out who she really is... underneath all
of those checked shirts.
When did you join the
I started filming on the show at the end of
February. I came in at the same time as Simon Rivers, who plays
Kevin. It was great having someone to hold hands with as we stepped
over the threshold, and we hit it off from the word go. Si is
brilliant to work with and we have stupid amounts of fun playing
sparring partners. We had a documentary team following us when we
started, and there's a lovely short on the Doctors website about us
joining the team. I look back at that first week and remember
feeling there wasn't time to blink. Launching straight into "triple
banking" (9 episodes being shot at once) and having a documentary
crew stalking us on every break? It was madness. Brilliant; but
How has it been joining such an
established group of actors and crew?
I won't lie; I was petrified when I first
joined. But I couldn't have asked for a warmer welcome. It'll sound
like a cliché, but I've never worked with a friendlier bunch of
cast and crew. Genuinely. I've already made friends here that I
know I'll be propping up a bar with when I'm old and grey. But it
has to be like that, or the show wouldn't work. We're a small
group. Unlike other soaps, there are only 11 of us in the regular
cast. It would be a bloody nightmare if we didn't get on, but the
producers are extremely careful when it comes to picking their
team, and I'm not just talking about the actors. Whether you're
working in the production office, on the floor, or behind the
scenes, Doctors is a team effort. We do what the others soaps do,
but with a third of the budget and within a third of the time. It
wouldn't work if there were egos on board. It's a case of jumping
in feet first and learning how to swim pretty damn quickly. There's
no treading water.
A few things will be revealed
about your character over the next few months, starting with
today's episode. What can you tell us about "Parts and
"Parts and Fitters" is a really fun ep and the
start of a major storyline for Freya. The catalyst is the arrival
of someone from her past who, without giving too much away, isn't
what people expect. Even her best mate Cherry (played by the
gorgeous Sophie Abelson) is going to find her jaw hitting the
floor. It's a great "up yours, world" moment for Freya, which I
think she deserves. It lets her stick two fingers up at the
assumptions people have made about her and smacks home the lesson
that you should never judge a book by its cover.
How similar are you to the character
People say we look alike, but I can't see it
I'd like to think I look before I leap. Freya
doesn't. She thinks with her heart first, head second. When
provoked, it's like lighting a firework. The best thing is to step
back until she's finished fizzing.
I know there are people who would argue I do
the same and, thinking about it, maybe they're right... but I'd
still maintain that Freya has a shorter fuse than me... and I think
my wardrobe is a little more varied. (I'm pretty sure I'll never
buy another checked shirt as long as I live).
What do you like most (and least)
I love Freya's passion and
loyalty but she can sound like a broken record. When allowed to
leap onto her soapbox, she will describe the atrocities imposed on
suppressed women with alarming (and often repetitive) detail.
Whilst I actively share her belief in sexual equality, I'd love her
to get the same message across without the portable statistics and
pie charts. I think more people would listen to her if that
happened, instead of smiling and thinking "here she goes again".
She also has no taste in shoes.
How much input have you had into the
development of Freya's character and story lines?
I've been involved in Freya's development
since day one. Before I joined, Doctors had just said goodbye to a
gay character who had been with the show for years. Because of
this, the introduction of Freya might be dismissed unfairly as a
way of re-ticking the diversity box - replacing "a gay with a gay".
But that's not what we've done. It would have been the easier
option but, with Freya, we've chosen a less obvious route. I can't
say much more without giving the game away...so you'll just have to
Where might we have seen you before
Things kicked off for me properly a few years
ago when I did a show at The Royal Court Theatre called "The
Since then, I've been really lucky. I've
continued to do bits of theatre, but have mainly worked in TV. I've
done the rounds : "Casualty", "Holby City", a stint on "Eastenders"
but, besides Doctors, "Candy Cabs" (shown on BBC1 in April) is what
I get recognised for the most.
More recently, "Random", a short film for C4,
came out in August and I've got the second series of "Rev"
launching on BBC2 this month. "Threesome" (that I nipped out of
Doctors to do a cameo for) is also running on Comedy Central at the
Last week I finished recording a voice for the
new "Woman in Black" film (that should be released in February) and
you'll also see me popping up in a BBC2 sketch show called "Watson
and Oliver" that airs in the New Year.
This year has been amazing. It's meant lots of
midnight motorway driving (and not much sleep) to make it all work,
but I've loved every second.
Any hints about what's next in store
Between now and February, a lot will be revealed about Freya.
Kevin helps to unravel a thread exposed in "Parts and Fitters",
Cherry and Freya hit some turbulence and I've just started filming
with someone who is going to turn Freya's life upside down. I want
to say more but, like any good doctor, have to practice a code of
confidentiality. For now, at least...
If you missed today's episode, Parts & Fitters,
watch it on BBC iPlayer