To hear more about the one-off programme, I chatted to actor Mikey North, who has recently been putting in some very powerful performances as the troubled soldier.
Click here to read the main interview, or alternatively read on for some bonus snippets from the actor…
Have you enjoyed the opportunity to show a different side to Gary in the past few months?
"Definitely - he came into the show as a bit of a rogue and a bad boy, but now he's grown up a lot and I'm getting to show a much more mature side of him. He's turned into a man, really. It's nice getting to play a wide range of emotions and that's definitely what's happened with Gary over the recent months."
You have the post-traumatic stress storyline at the moment - will that be a long-running storyline or is it close to an end?
"I think it'll run and run. Also, the thing with post-traumatic stress is that it can return at any time - so I think this is something that will affect Gary for the next year at least. It's a nice storyline, as it makes a person really unpredictable, so Gary could be up to all sorts! I'm looking forward to portraying that."
"It's been fantastic. I've had guys from quite high up in the army contacting me to thank me for the work that I've done on the storyline and for portraying it in the way that I have, which is really nice. That's a big relief for me, because obviously you want to keep it realistic when it's such a current issue. One guy even came up to me in the street and said that he'd joined up for the army because he'd been inspired by Gary and he saw it as a way to do something with his life. That's a massive compliment for me."
Is there any particular impact that you've wanted the army storyline to have?
"I've just really wanted to raise awareness of how dangerous going to Afghanistan can be and how it can affect people - not only physically but mentally as well. I've also wanted to show how the mental impact can be just as bad as the physical injuries, if not worse. I just hope that it makes people more aware and even more proud of the guys who are out there doing it. It's definitely made me more aware of how brave these guys are, and I've got so much respect for them after doing the storyline."
"Oh, definitely! I hated it, and like you say, it was the main downside because I didn't like being off work! It was a bit of a tough time, but I just clung to the fact that the storyline would get to the point where I could come back and feature on the street again. That was always the light at the end of the tunnel, but it was difficult being off. It sounds daft as for most people it would be nice to be off and sit at home all day, but I hate that - I'd much rather be at work!"
On a lighter note, do you think Gary's current love interest Izzy is the best match for him?
"Yeah - I think Izzy really keeps his feet on the ground and tells it like it is, which is what Gary really needs at the moment. He doesn't need people feeling sorry for him because he feels sorry enough for himself. She definitely has a good influence on him and clearly makes him happy. I think it's quite an interesting character match-up."
Could there be more tension on the way between Gary and Owen?
"Yeah, which is brilliant, because I love working with Ian Puleston-Davies. We have such a good laugh and he's such a great actor - I think he's one of the best actors that I've worked with. Hopefully I'll get to do more stuff with him - it'd be great, because he's so good."
"Yeah, absolutely, because you get to spend so much time with these people and then when they leave, it can be tough. Especially with Steve, because I work with him every day and he's such a good guy to have around - he's very, very popular at work. We're definitely all sad to be saying goodbye to anyone. But now Gary is going to be left without a dad on the street, so we'll have to see what happens - I'm looking forward to seeing what they've got in mind. But I'm going to miss Steve a lot."
Finally, there's been a lot of support for you, your performances and the storyline lately - especially on our forum! Is there anything you'd like to say to your fans?
"Just a thank you for all the nice things that they're saying! I just hope that I'm keeping it real. That's what I'm always trying to do - trying to make the performances believable. If I can portray the storyline well then that's all I can ever wish for. It's nice that people appreciate that and I'll carry on trying my best to make some good TV!"
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