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TELEVISION: BAD BEDSIDE MANNERS; Doctors star Sarah joins Casualty as trouble-making receptionist.

Byline: Steve Hendry

STAFF and patients at Holby City General will be reaching for the Valium when Sarah Manners joins the cast of Casualty.

The 27-year-old actress starts her shift as sassy new hospital receptionist Bex in the BBC drama this week.

And that spells trouble for everyone if her medical record is anything to go by.

Viewers of BBC1's daytime soap Doctors may remember her as troubled receptionist Joanna Helm.

Despite its early afternoon showing she was involved in mercy killing, drug addiction and a suicide attempt to name but a few of her spicier plotlines.

"I got the best storylines in the world in Doctors," she said. "My nan died of a brain tumour then it came out I killed her. I went mad and was addicted to anti-depressants, forged signatures and tried to kill myself.

"There's a lot of potential for Bex to cause just as much mischief in Casualty. She's an ex- footballer's wife who obviously thinks she's a lot better than the job and has loads of attitude. She's really not that interested in what she's doing for a living but despite herself she's actually quite good at it because of her strong nature. She doesn't take any nonsense.

"But she's not very professional in that she spreads gossip around. If she knows about it, the whole department knows about it. She's a bit naughty.

"She does things just to wind people up to amuse herself and stop the boredom of the day. So a lot of the staff don't particularly like her at first. But it's good to make an impression, isn't it?"

Bex breezes into Casualty on Saturday (BBC1, 8.10pm) and promptly displays her lack of tack by ridiculing her predecessor - in front of his girlfriend and brother. By the end of the episode she's also been accused of being a nosy bitch by a patient.

But whether the staff and patients like her or not, Bex is staying around as Sarah has signed a two-year contract.

Although a familiar face through Doctors and as man-eater Sam Marsden in Hollyoaks' late- night spin-off Moving On, Casualty is her biggest break to date.

But by coincidence her debut comes at a time when three other dramas she's in have either been shown or are about to hit our screens. She was in Girl's Weekend, part of BBC1's Afternoon Play series last week and will soon be seen starring in the Richard Blackwood comedy show Ed Stone Is Dead.

She is also about to appear in Sky One's sexy new airline drama Mile High, playing gold-digging trolley dolly KC.

"It's weird how it all happens at once," said Sarah. "Within a day or two of finishing Mile High I got Girl's Weekend and a couple of days later I got Casualty.

"I am quite sure I'm going to get somebody on the street saying, `I know you from somewhere...

"It all came about really quickly and I was a bit shocked to be honest. Casualty wanted me to start within a couple of days. So I had to drop everything and move to Bristol from London.

"Fortunately, my other half, Dan, is cool about that. He understands you've got to go where the work is. I just said, `I've got Casualty' and he said, `Wicked'.

"I'm not in a position to turn down work. Casualty is my biggest break. It's a long- running, well established, prime time drama. I couldn't say no to that."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 2, 2003
Words:580
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