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Luke Hamill from BBC drama Casualty

by Ouch Team

3rd December 2008

In this audio interview, we check the vital signs of wheelchair using actor Luke Hamill, who recently joined the cast of BBC One's Saturday night hospital drama series Casualty.
Luke Hamill in a scene from Casualty
Luke plays Alex Truman, younger brother of Dr Adam Truman. His arrival in the show brings up guilty feelings in Adam, as he recalls the accident in which Alex became disabled. Now, Adam has to come to terms with the reality of his brother's life.

In this revealing interview, taken from our Christmas Podcast, find out how Luke's character's story reflects the way in which he himself became disabled following a road accident and how the writers inside knowledge helped create a authentic story for the character.

Plus, now that his career has taken him all the way from corporate banking to prime-time acting, Luke considers what he'd like to do next.

This interview with hosts Mat Fraser and Liz Carr was taken from our December 2008 podcast.

Catch Luke Hamill on Casualty around 8:10pm on Saturday nights on BBC One

[+] Click to reveal transcript

Mat: Well coming soon we've got the quiz but now in the studio we have got for interview Mr Luke Hamill from Casualty.
Liz: Whey hey hey!
Luke: Hello, hello guys.
Liz: Hello there. We have to ask you, you know this is our Christmas podcast what will you be doing for Christmas Luke?
Luke: I am going to be at home with the family and having a really quiet one having some time out.
Liz: Very traditional kind of Christmas for you?
Luke: Yeah, eat all day long.
Liz: Yes of course.
Luke: Drink all day long and watch loads of telly.
Liz: Party games?
Luke: Yeah why not?
Mat: Do you have any aunts and uncles coming?
Luke: Yeah we get a few visitors family, go out, well actually we stay in on Christmas Day they come to us, people come to us.
Mat: Can I come?
Luke: Yeah definitely.
Liz: He's just recently broken up with his wife and…
Luke: If the food is good all day long.
Mat: Can we talk about this?
Liz: Can we?
Mat: Okay. The BBC's long running Saturday night medical drama, Casualty, has got a new face disabled character Alex Truman. He ended the show at the very end of November playing Dr Adam's brother and it seems his guilty secret. As children they were in a devastating car crash which killed their parents and left Alex paralysed.
Liz: Well here's a clip from the first appearance where we hear Adam visiting Alex at the sheltered housing place where he lives. Alex is attempting to open a can of beer while they speak.
[Playing clip]
Adam: I've been a really rubbish brother haven't I?
Alex: You've been busy.
Adam: When did that happen?
Alex: I have good days and bad days.
Adam: Does it affect your… I mean how about your painting?
Alex: I use my mouth.
Mat: So why is Dr. Adam so screwed up about his brother?
Luke: I think it's just something which he's put to the back of his mind, he's just tried to move on with and felt guilty about it and it's just often easier than facing things isn't it?
Mat: I guess so.
Liz: It's a storyline that's just come in. It started on Saturday?
Luke: Yeah we just transmitted the first one on Saturday.
Liz: Okay. And how long is this going on - so is this going to be a long term story?

Luke: Yeah it's running, we'll be running for a while so the drama's just starting yeah.
Liz: Wow okay. So I want to ask you because I was reading up about you and you became disabled in an accident.
Luke: That's right.
Liz: Yeah. So was it painful playing a role being a disabled person who's been in an accident as well? Was all that hard for you?
Luke: I didn't… wasn't involved with the accident scene, the shooting I watching it back on Saturday with keen interest…
Liz: I bet.
Luke: … because I hadn't seen that, and that was me and my brother Adam he was having all the flashbacks to the original scene. So I was watching it for the first time and seeing how well shot it was. But I didn't have that problem of flashing back to my own time. And as well as that I don't remember because I had a head injury so I don't remember the few weeks in and around my accident or the few weeks afterwards.
Liz: Yeah. So it's quite weird it's sort of like…
Luke: It is a bit if you think about yeah.
Liz: I'm fascinated by that
Luke: No I wasn't really thinking about that but yeah.
Liz: Well we've got, shall we go to the clip we've got another clip.
Mat: Yeah let's have the next one.
Liz: Where Alex is trying to teach your brother that being disabled isn't the end of the world, Adam's voice comes first in the clip.
Adam: Do you remember what it was like to walk?
Alex: It's not what matters anymore. You know that - regrets are a waste of space. Get over it I have. To us and Mum and Dad. We owe it to them to keep happy. You, particularly, you've got to live it for all of us.
Mat: Something I think that will be familiar to many listeners, that little scenario. So, Luke, how did you and your family come to terms with your life change?
Luke: Just time I suppose, just time is the great healer. And then just what else can you do it's not something you have a choice about; you just get on with it. And you realise that it's not… being in that moment is not as bad as worrying about it and thinking about what it might be. I mean that's what I've noticed with other people I think they're a lot more precious about my disability than I am.
Mat: Hell yeah.
Luke: Do you know what I mean?
Liz: It's like dealing with other people is the big deal often isn't it?
Luke: Yeah. So you're not thinking about it, it's just that they're always thinking about it.
Mat: It's all they can think about yeah.
Luke: Exactly.
Mat: When you were shooting, like 'on the floor' as they call it in the 'biz' apparently.
Liz: He likes to pretend he's got a TV career.
Mat: You're so cruel Elizabeth.
Luke: Oh he has it's brilliant I've seen it.
Liz: I'm sorry.
Mat: You are really horrible 'it' anyway.
Luke: We haven't worked yet and I'd love to work with you I must say.
Mat: Maybe we will, who knows.
Luke: Yeah I hope so yeah.
Mat: You might find me trotting down the very halls of Holby before you know it. "Now where is he the other one?"
Liz: "The one that got the long part eh? I was in for one episode with fake arms yet again." So after your accident you went into you worked in the City is that right?
Luke: I did for a couple of years yeah.
Mat: When did you get out, recently? Do you still have a few stocks and shares in everything?
Luke: Don't we all?
Mat: Well no most of us don't.
Luke: And some level pensions…
Liz: What were you actually doing?
Luke: I was working in corporate banking back office, oh God no don't want to think… I didn't enjoy it, it wasn't that… I wasn't cut out for it.
Liz: It wasn't for you. So how did you then make this leap to getting into acting?
Luke: I'd done a bit of TV documentary while I was at university with the BBC, local BBC there. And it was soon after the City I just right after that Aspire, a charity of which I'm now a Trustee, that's a spinal injuries charity, they had a call and I was at their premises and they wanted somebody that week to film for a commercial. So it was just literally I'd quit that job and…
Liz: It was that kind of like… wow
Mat: Remind me what was the commercial without saying the products?
Luke: It was an insurance company.
Mat: Luke, what's next?
Luke: What's next - I'm up for a presenting job.
Mat: Oh can you say what it is or would that…
Luke: No.
Mat: My mother who's an actress never agrees with saying what it is before you've got the gig.
Luke: It's all that I don't want to say too much and I'd like to get involved with a film maybe a film which my friend is producing.
Liz: So there's things there…
Luke: Yeah bits and bobs.
Liz: … happening in the future.
Luke: And scriptwriting, I'd like to get involved with some scriptwriting yeah so do some courses in scriptwriting.
Liz: As a bit of teaser for our listeners, Luke, I want to know can you give us a bit more about the storyline come on, we know you're in there…
Mat: Just a little bit more.
Liz: … we know you're in sheltered accommodation and your brother's going to start to know you again but what's going to happen, we want to know more.
Luke: What can I say without spoiling it for the viewers because it's just going to…
Mat: Lie!
Luke: Well yeah well we just there's me and Tristan and there's me and my main stuff is played out with - I just don't want to say, but he's just another fantastic actor in that show who… I'll give you a clue he was in it prominent on Saturday just gone, the episode just gone.
Mat: Huh-ha.
Liz: So it's really about your…
Luke: A very prominent actor in it.
Liz: … your relationship with your brother and your reawakening of that relationship.
Luke: And one of the doctors as well I really become close to one of the doctors.
Mat: Oh yes!
Luke: Yeah not in that kind of way, you're giving me that look Matthew but in a, just in a friendship way which is telling of… we all learn things about each other, we're all there to learn from each other. And that's what we are in life isn't it?
Liz: And were you happy with how they've covered disability? Are you happy with the sort of portrayal in this storyline?
Luke: I am because it's kind of that's just the storyline but the subtext is so much more than that, the disability is just the plot but underneath it it's the relationship with my brother and it's almost got nothing to do with the disability really, looking at it on that level no.
Liz: No it's not trite it's not really crass?
Luke: Not at all no, it was great I loved the way they played it.
Mat: Did it feel authentic?
Luke: Yeah.
Mat: Because often I find that disability stuff isn't quite as authentic as real life and so it's always refreshing when it is.
Luke: Well the writer of the first two episodes her brother, and this is the one that I was casting for, because as I read it and the more I read it I was just actually awakened to 18 years ago when I had my car accident feelings I hadn't had. And I knew that there was some kind of a knowledge, close knowledge, to the subject of paralysis road traffic accident and the writer her brother it had happened to him, so she was well aware of it. And it showed, it showed in the writing and it will show in the episode which is just transmitted and the next one as well and ongoingly.
Mat: Great.
Liz: So tell us where can we see it, where can we watch it?
Luke: Where? Oh it's on Saturday nights BBC1 somewhere around 8:00 o'clock/ten past eight that sort of time it seems to change but around about 8:00 o'clock/ten past eight that's where I'll be for the next… long time.
Liz: Ah you're not giving any… we thought…
Luke: I can't give it I don't want to spoil it.

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