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Culture: Mishaps with a false bottom; Casualty's Liz Carling tells Emma Pomfret about her misadventures with a prosthetic bum.

Byline: Emma Pomfret

'The first time I had to do a proper medical procedure I had to do an injection into this prosthetic bottom,' grins actress Liz Carling.

'My face was an absolute picture as I'm really squeamish,'

The 36-year-old Goodnight Sweetheart star is making a welcome return to our screens, as Selena Donovan in the new series of Casualty, on BBC One from Saturday.

Recalling her first few queasy days filming, she laughs: 'I knew that it was pretend but all this blood stuff was oozing out of this wound and then I had to find these pellets with a pair of tweezers - I could only find one after all that anyway.'

Selena, Liz's fiery character, first appeared in the medical drama last April as a rookie consultant neurologist.

This time, she explodes back onto the scene as resident police surgeon to haunt hapless Harry Harper, director of emergency medicine.

The last time we saw her, Selena had been enjoying a clandestine date with Harry - the same night that his beloved wife Beth was killed in a tragic car accident.

And much to Harry's shock, Selena is back on the wards, having resigned from her former position under mysterious circumstances, and apparently living happily ever after with sexy police boss husband DI Will Manning.

But, this being Casualty, the loved-up couple don't get a chance to enjoy their newly-wed status for very long.

'She's deeply in love at the start of the series but then she finds out that Will has slept with receptionist Bex and it absolutely breaks her heart,' Liz reveals.

'She's waited a long time to meet somebody like Will and her heart's completely broken, hence the animosity with Bex. So poor Selena, two months and he's already in bed with someone else.'

The Middlesbrough-born actress, who also starred in cult detective drama Boon, says her character's love life doesn't improve much for a while, since her ill-fated history with Harry means that the odds are against them ever getting back together.

'Everything went belly-up last time because Harry was supposed to be giving his daughter a driving lesson on the night that he decided to take Selena out to dinner,' Liz explains.

'Obviously Selena felt really bad about that and Harry felt so guilty that that was the end of that and it was nipped in the bud completely.

'This time round things for Harry are just completely professional, there's a lot of water under the bridge.

'I think that she's emotionally shut down now for the time being but no doubt she will reawaken and we'll have to see what happens after that,' she smiles wickedly, hinting at some very juicy plot lines to come.

But despite the initial heartache in store for Selena, Liz, who's single herself, is clearly over the moon to be cast in what is far and away Casualty's most gutsy female role.

'It's a really nice change for me actually as this character is probably one of the grittiest I've ever played - it's a great part for me to really get my teeth into.

'The difference between Selena and I is that I'll walk away from a situation and I might think half an hour later, 'Damn, that'd be a great thing to have said', whereas Selena doesn't suffer fools gladly and just says it straight away - I'm not that quick!'

And Selena's character is set to bring a new and exciting criminal edge to the hospital drama series.

'It's the first time in Casualty that there's been a police surgeon involved, and that's great for Selena and great for me as well,' she says.

'It means that it gets me out of A&E and working with police as well - it just adds an extra dimension to the show.'

Selena won't be responsible for taking police evidence or cracking crimes, but instead will deal with the targets of violent crimes, such as rape victims, she explains.

And that's exactly what Liz has to tackle when the new Casualty series kicks off with a gripping two-parter.

The fast-paced double episode also stars former EastEnder Lucy Benjamin as the mother of a little girl who is abducted and murdered by a rapist, plunging Selena straight in at the deep end - much to Liz's obvious delight.

'It's great - the thing is that I hadn't filmed anything since the last time I was in Casualty last April,' she says, clearly relishing the challenge.

'I've been generally pottering about, not working much and actually having a great time,' she grins.

'My last point of reference was the Casualty set and to work with Simon MacCorkindale, who plays Harry, again was great. It was a real joy to come back.'

To really get a taste for the role, she shadowed a working police surgeon and is scheduled, like the rest of the key Casualty cast, to have a full day in a real A&E department in Bristol.

'I think it's really important but the schedule is so busy that there's no time to do much except to learn your lines and get on with it at the moment,' she says.

'It'll be a couple of weeks' time that I get to go to A&E and be scared at the volume of work and the different types of cases that they get.'

But no matter how much hands-on experience Liz gets in the world of a working emergency department, she jokes that the only way she'll ever pronounce the unfamiliar medical terms is by pure hard graft.

'You try to learn them as well as you can but it's like learning Swahili!

'It's not English and it doesn't come tripping off the tongue - you have to learn it phonetically and practice it over and over again until it just sits in your head and you say it without even thinking.'

As for what the future holds for Dr Donovan, Liz says that she's happy to stay in the dark.

'I just take each script as it's supposed to be and do it - some actors like to find out where their characters are going but in life you never know what's around the corner so I just prefer not to know.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 9, 2004
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