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Oliver Kent (Series Producer, 'Casualty')

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Casualty Series Producer, Oliver Kent

© BBC

As BBC One's flagship medical drama Casualty prepares to enter its silver anniversary year, we recently caught up with showrunner Oliver Kent for the next feature-length instalment of Digital Spy's Producer Season 2010. Here, Oliver reveals all about a special multi-episode guest stint for a former EastEnders star, a Holby City crossover in the first episode of season 25, what's to come for Ruth as well as what we can expect from Brenda Fricker's return as Megan. Read on for all this and more...

Apparently you have a very special guest with you at the start of the new series?
"We're really, really excited to be working with Michelle Collins. It's obviously a number of years since she last worked with Michael French and their first scene together, which is in the third episode of the new series, is absolutely electric. She arrives in the first episode of the new series as Camille, the mum of a girl who's injured. She's with us for about six episodes. She looks fabulous and is a real force to be reckoned with."

There's a Holby crossover in the first episode, too…
"Yes - Donna will be coming down! We like to do Holby crossovers from time to time and the idea is that from now on, we'll have two or three a year. It's great when there's a major event in Casualty to see other characters come down. Mark Catley, who wrote the episode, really wanted to bring down Donna - one of Holby's best characters. She's hilariously funny and Jaye Jacobs is a brilliant actress. We're talking about a couple more crossovers a little further down the line, too, but you'll have to wait and see who that involves!"

Donna Jackson from Holby City
Obviously logistics problems make it difficult but seeing as the last one was very successful, have you considered a new crossover with Holby City? Or maybe doing another Casualty@Holby spinoff show?
"We're not likely to do another Casualty@Holby for the foreseeable future but we do really like doing the crossovers. As long as they're planned with plenty of notice, it works really well. The logistics are tricky but when our scheduler talks to theirs and when I talk to Diana about it, it works really well."

Will Jay and Ruth ever get back together?
"Well… Who knows? The story's not over yet. There's a lot further to go. There is some good and some very bad news coming to both of them. In a few weeks' time, those who love Ruth are in for a bit of a treat. There's a big surprise for Jay, too."

Where is the story involving Nick and Kieron heading now that Nick has found out he isn't actually Kieron's father?
"We've now said goodbye to Kieron but the story's awakened a new desire in Jordan to leave a lasting legacy and become a father. This turns into a storyline with Zoe and whether they'll have a baby. Of course, he doesn't know what the audience knows about Zoe, that she has fertility problems…"

Michael French as Nick Jordan
Is it not too far fetched having Nick Jordan as head of the department with a tumour and him almost killing some patient in an earlier episode?
"No, because that story was about Jordan realising that leadership isn't necessarily all about being hands-on and that you can be a brilliant consultant by conducting. He's used to being a surgeon but it's been a whole new learning experience for him to discover that he can still be the boss and a brilliant doctor even if they're not your hands doing the cutting."

You said last year that Zoe and Nick weren't emotionally ready to have a relationship. Do you think they've now reached that point and if so, what do you think the future holds for them?
"Sometimes our best stories are people who shouldn't be together trying to be together. It's like watching a car crash in very, very slow motion. They've reached a point where they want to try to be together, but whether that means they should be is a different thing. They're truly not a match made in heaven but they are drawn to each other. It rumbles towards the end of the series and then explodes spectacularly."

Georgia Taylor as Ruth Winters
What have you planned for Ruth? Don't you think she should get a love interest?
"Ruth's desperate to prove that her life's moved on from Jay. Her story takes a surprising turn when she meets a handsome surgeon called [Edward Thurlow] - played by Stephen Billington. Sadly, though, I don't think she's over Jay. The consequences of her upcoming decisions will live with her through the end of this series and into the next."

Would you like to bring back characters for a one-off like you did last year with Susan Cookson and Matthew Needham?
"Yes, from time to time, it's really good to do that. We have one of our biggest returners ever later in the series when Brenda Fricker returns to play Megan for four episodes. Of all the characters I could ever to have hoped to bring back, she was at the top of my list. When she agreed, it was just brilliant. I'd love to bring back Eve, Patrick - even though he's dead - Holly, Kelsey, Ash, Jimmy, Duffy, Jude… there are too many to list! I have to confess that I'm a bit of a Casualty dweeb."

Can you tell us a bit more about Brenda Fricker's return later this year?
"Megan arrives suddenly in an episode where she's admitted suffering from side-effects of cancer treatment. Charlie realises that she's very, very ill and the knowledge that his best friend is terminally ill is very difficult for him to cope with. He turns to Tess to help him through it and together they have to make some very difficult decisions. The story climaxes towards the end of the series with an almost three-hander, which is the best episode of Casualty I've ever seen. When I read the script, it made me cry so much that I couldn't see it. And when I watched it, it was the first time I'd watched an episode and not had a single note to give. Brenda's just incredible."

Gillian Kearney as Jessica Harrison
What uncommon medical conditions can we expect to see in the forthcoming episodes?
"There's a mystery illness called the cryptococcosis virus and it becomes a big medical mystery that Yuki and Lenny have to unravel before the end of the series. That all ends up tied in with the JAFA award story."

What have you planned to mark Casualty's 25 years on air next year?
"It may be our 25th series this September but we don’t actually celebrate turning 25 until the following year, so we're in the process of figuring out how we're going to mark it. We're not quite agreed what that's going to be yet - but there are some very big and exciting plans afoot."

Will we see Jessica return?
"It's unlikely that we'll see her, but it's always possible. She was a hugely popular character and we love Gillian, so never say never."

Have you any more high profile guest stars lined up?
"In recently, we've had Louisa Lytton, Roxanne Pallett, Linda Robson, Jon Lee and Nathan Stewart Jarrett from The Misfits. We also have a couple of unknown guest stars who are amazing."

Derek Thompson as Charlie Fairhead
Are there any departures at the end of the series?
§ There aren't any departures at the end of the series as such but in terms of running stories, we'll work out what happens with the JAFA and who wins the Fellowship. Connected to that, there'll be the resolve to the mystery virus.
§ There's a blackout over Holby.
§ Megan's story resolves.
§ Jordan's desire to become a father reaches a rather nasty conclusion.
§ Adam copes with the fact he's turned 40.
§ And Charlie becomes a granddad when the awful Shona gives birth!

And for Series 25…
§ There's the aftermath of a fairly awful series of events in our feature-length opening episode in which we also introduce a new character - junior nurse Madiha Durrani (played by Hasina Haque) finding her way into British life.
§ Jordan wants to be more hands-on with surgery again.
§ There's a surprisingly traumatic series of events for Jeff the paramedic, which puts his marriage with Dixie under strain.
§ The aftereffects of Ruth's sudden romance come home to roost - it'll be a very big series for her.
§ We learn more about Kirsty's home life.
§ And Noel gets a crush on Madiha. Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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