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'Doctors' Ian Kelsey interview: 'Howard will bark orders'

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Ian Kelsey And Elizabeth Dermot

© Lia Toby/WENN.com

Doctors enters a new era next week as Howard Bellamy takes over the post of practice manager at The Mill, succeeding Julia Parsons following her recent departure.

Played by former Emmerdale and Casualty star Ian Kelsey, Howard is a former military man who looks set to ruffle feathers at work as he aims to get the practice through an upcoming reaccreditation.

Digital Spy recently chatted to Ian about joining Doctors and what fans can expect from Howard.

How are you settling in at Doctors?
"I'm settling in really well. It's a lovely environment to work in, with a great cast and crew. It's quite easy to settle into something when it's such a laugh to work on!

"I'm really enjoying it because I just love being on a TV set - I prefer it much more to stage work. There's great banter between the cast and crew all day long. It's just a load of old mates thrown in a studio with lights and cameras, and everyone cracks on and has a laugh."

How did the part come about?
"I went to an audition and was given three scenes which were very, very different from each other. As I was looking at the scenes and working on them, I could see that each one showed a different side of Howard.

"That made it a gem to audition for, because if you get something like this, you can really go for it. He's such an extreme of a character, so I just went for it in the casting and obviously it worked!"

Was it easy to adjust to the fast-paced soap world again?
"I found the line-learning hard at first, but it's just about having a positive mental attitude. If you approach it and you think, 'I can't learn it', then you never will! But I know that I've done this sort of work before and I can do it.

"When I first started, I was looking round and could see that everybody was up to speed with their short-term memory, which you need to develop for a job like this. It's like any muscle in your body - if you haven't used it for a while, it goes slack. So it took about a month for me to get up to speed."

Diane Keen became a bit of a legend among Doctors fans after nine years as Julia. Is there any pressure when it comes to taking over from her?
"I don't think I realised just how much of a legend she actually was until I started speaking to more and more people about the role! (Laughs) But you do quickly realise that quite a lot of stories go through the practice manager. They are big shoes to fill, but hopefully I can do it."

Howard Bellamy (Ian Kelsey) starts work at The Mill

© BBC



What can you tell us about Howard and his background?
"The thing with Doctors is that it could change as time goes on! What I know at the moment is that Howard is ex-military - he went in and worked his way up to becoming an officer. Then he came out and went straight into the NHS.

"He's now decided that he wants to get his hands mucky and that's why he wants to be the practice manager at The Mill. He wants to try his hand at leadership again, so he comes in and starts to lead everybody like they're part of his old military unit - which is quite hilarious!"

The Mill is also facing a reaccreditation, isn't it?
"Yeah, and that's a big reason behind why Howard comes in - he basically emotionally blackmails the staff! Howard has worked for the board of accreditation, so he knows how to get a practice through the test.

"He lets the partners know that he is the man for the job and can get them through this. So even though he may not have been first choice, they have no choice but to hire him…"

Does he have any new ideas for the practice?
"It's just little things like organising and coming up with better ideas. He comes in with a stiff rod and he's barking orders, so he's putting his mark on the practice already - just by how he's running it.

"It's a strange old situation, because the partners own the practice and they're hiring somebody like Howard to keep them in check. They're hiring someone to tell them off, basically!"

Howard Bellamy (Ian Kelsey) starts work at The Mill

© BBC



Does Howard have better relationships with some staff members than others?
"Well, I've spoken to a real-life practice manager and she said, 'You have to manage and manipulate every different doctor in a different way - your relationship with every doctor is different'. That's also happened in Howard's relationships with the characters, which is quite interesting. Each different character has a different relationship with Howard, which is brilliant for me as an actor, because it means that I can bounce off people differently.

"A lot of the characters are a bit unsure about him. They don't know whether they like him, whether they don't like him, whether they look up to him, whether they look down on him. There's loads of different angles and routes to go down with Howard."

Do you still have fond memories of your time on Emmerdale?
"Yes - very, very fond memories. It was one of the best times of my life on that show as it was my first big break. I don't miss it as such, because I'm doing the same type of work on Doctors with fast-moving, fast-paced acting.

"In the end, it was time for me to move on and I'm glad I did, but it's lovely to look back on Emmerdale with very fond memories. I've got loads of photos from the days I spent on set, and it was nice to bump into everybody at the Soap Awards recently!"

> 'Doctors': Ian Kelsey cast as new practice manager
> Read more 'Doctors' spoilers and news

Doctors airs Howard's debut on Monday, May 28 at 1.45pm on BBC One. Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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