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'Doctors' Matthew Chambers talks Daniel Granger plots - interview

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Matthew Chambers as Daniel Granger in Doctors

© BBC

Doctors star Matthew Chambers is currently enjoying one of his biggest years on the soap, as his character Daniel Granger's infidelity and struggle with male post-natal depression has led to him separating from Zara Carmichael.

The actor has also been keeping busy behind the camera, recently directing his second block of Doctors episodes which will air later in the year.

With Daniel set to face the music for sleeping with Cherry Clay next week as Jimmi now knows the truth, Digital Spy recently chatted to Matthew about what's in store.

Have you enjoyed playing all of the ups and downs for Daniel this year?
"Oh absolutely - I think you need them, don't you? You can't be too constant on Doctors because there's not much interest in that. Ups and downs are marvellous!"

Has it been strange not to have Elisabeth Dermot Walsh, who plays Zara, around for most of the year?
"Well, it's been quite a while now - it was strange to start off with because we've worked so closely for such a long time, so I do miss my partner in crime!

"But I also took quite a period off myself over the summer, so I was away for a bit too. First of all I was on holiday, and then I came back to direct a block of Doctors episodes, so I guess life moves on. You do get used to people not being around, but Elisabeth not being there was definitely strange at first.

"I'm very good friends with Elisabeth so we do keep in contact as best we can, but obviously with her having a baby in real life, that's taken over her life and her partner's life!"

Elisabeth Dermot Walsh & Matthew Chambers

© BBC

Doctors logo

© BBC



Were you surprised at Daniel's bad boy side returning when he cheated on Zara earlier this year?
"No, I wasn't surprised! I think it's always been lurking beneath the surface with him, as he's such a volatile character. But I was surprised at the twist that it happened with Cherry, because of how close to home that was. Not only is Jimmi his best friend, but he's married to Cherry and it's a very serious relationship for those two. I was surprised and pleased with all of that, because it's very controversial."

How does Daniel react next week when he discovers the truth is out?
"There's a great sense of relief, in a way, because it's been this terribly large elephant in the room, and I think Daniel had always known that it would come out one way or another. He's also glad that it's come out without him having to actually sit down and admit what's happened - that's a bit of a relief to him too. Whatever happens from now on, at least the truth is out."

Could Daniel's friendship with Jimmi ever recover from this?
"Well, I don't think Daniel expects that Jimmi will forgive him, but I do think there is hope there, because Jimmi is his best friend. So while Daniel wouldn't expect it, I think there is a chance."

We've heard that Zara will be paying a visit at Christmas, so can you give us any early hints about her return?
"Well, as is always the case with Zara, her return doesn't go without notice! Apart from that, I really can't give you any hints on what happens because I don't want to spoil it. But she certainly comes in with a bang!"

Do you think there's any hope that Daniel and Zara could be happy together again?
"Yes, I do believe that they can be happy together again. As well as being quite volatile creatures, they do have quite a bit in common. I think it's going to be a question of whether they're able to go to another level in their relationship and also their personal lives. But I believe there is hope for them, for sure."

Zara Carmichael (Elisabeth Dermot Walsh) and Daniel Granger's (Matthew Chambers) baby has arrived

© BBC

Daniel and Zara bicker about finding out the sex of their baby

© BBC



How did you feel about taking on Daniel's male post-natal depression storyline?
"It was a wonderful chance to be given that kind of storyline, because it isn't really covered on television, or indeed in everyday life. Very often we hear about post-natal maternal depression in conversation and in the media, but we don't really hear about paternal depression. So I think our storyline was a great chance to explore it and bring it to the fore.

"I'm sure that, given the opportunity, many men would take help in this situation, but first of all it's a question of realising what is actually going on. Having a child is such a massive change to your life, so trying to figure out what's making you feel this way when you have depression can be difficult. Of course, people don't always ask for help so the story was a fantastic opportunity and one that I'm really grateful for."

Since doing the story, have you heard from any men who've been through the same thing in real life?
"Well, while this story was going on, the personality of a friend of mine changed quite a bit. He had a son four months before the episodes started to air. We've since had a conversation about it, and he believes that this is what he's been suffering from. He's been seeking some therapy, and it's helping enormously with him.

"I hope people who watch the show and have suffered from this now feel more at ease when it comes to speaking about it."

What can you tell us about your latest directing work for Doctors?
"Being on the other side of the camera is very exciting in all aspects. It's not just the actual filming of the episodes - it's the preparation, the casting, finding locations and working with all of the different departments. I find it terrifically exciting.

"I did find it much more challenging this time, just simply because of a few technical problems, and also because the weather wasn't very kind to us! I also hadn't directed for a year, so I was a bit out of practice. It took a few days to get up to speed, but I enjoyed it enormously. They seem pretty pleased with what I've done, so fingers crossed they might offer me another block at some point in the future."

There are lots of new characters joining at the moment, so will Daniel be making some new friends or enemies?
"I'm sure he'll make some enemies! It's been incredible how many people have left in the last six months alone, and it's a big change. I think such a dramatic change in staff is a bit unsettling for Daniel. I'm sure he'll make some enemies but as for friends, I'm not so sure about that…"

Has it been sad to say goodbye to so many colleagues this year?
"It really has, but you do get used to it on a long-running show, as people come and go. You get used to saying goodbye, and of course saying hello when new people come in. It's part of it and as an actor you know that it's such a transient industry anyway."

Daniel (Matthew Chambers) and Zara (Elisabeth Dermot Walsh)

© BBC

Daniel is being strangely cagey with Zara about Lauren

© BBC Pictures



A few of your Doctors friends are on Twitter. Have you ever been tempted to join them?
"I haven't been thus far! I'm still not on Facebook, and I haven't taken up Twitter either. I suppose there are times when I've been tempted from a professional point of view, but no I haven't done so far, and I can't see myself getting involved in the near future to be honest!"

Are you aware of the popularity of 'Zaniel' among the online fans in particular?
"Do you know what, I'm really not. Occasionally those who are into Twitter and the online forums will ask me, 'Have you seen this?' or 'Have you had a look at that?', but I always have to say, 'No I haven't', so I'm largely unaware. That probably isn't best I suppose, but I hear from people involved in Twitter that as well as seeing all the positive things, you also see all the negative things.

"I like to keep my head down, get on with my work, hope what I'm doing is good and if I'm asked back the next year, I suppose I know it's all gone okay. That's enough for me!"

Which Doctors storylines have been your favourites to film?
"The post-natal depression storyline has been great, but the one that was most challenging was the abduction of Izzie, especially because it was a five-parter. Although stories of the day are the meat and two veg of Doctors, we occasionally get these special episodes.

"In those specials, it was great to have the same director for so many episodes and really create a great feeling of trust among the cast, crew and director. Again, I was working with Elisabeth mostly, and that was fantastic because I find her wonderfully easy to work with and fabulously intelligent in the way that she approaches the scripts. She's such a great actress."

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