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MY SISTERS ARE NURSES..THEY THINK MY TOP JOB AT HOLBY IS HILARIOUS; television Nursing family bring Stella Gonet back to reality.

Byline: By STEVE HENDRY

Stella Gonet had better get it right when she stars in Holby City - because she'll hear all about it from her sisters if she messes up.

The Scots actress has four siblings who are nurses and they will be only too keen to tell her what they think of her management skills as the TV hospital's new chief executive, Jayne Grayson.

Stella, 44, has just joined the BBC1 drama and is awaiting a barrage of phone calls when she starts hiring and firing at Holby.

She said: "It will be interesting to see if they have anything to say to me during the course of my managing the hospital.

'I'll be keen to get their viewpoint and I don't think they will be shy about letting me know what they think.

"One of my sisters is a midwife, one is a clinical co-ordinator, one is an orthopaedics nurse and another is a sister working in Australia. They work incredibly hard and are wonderful.

"Nurses are the best thing about the NHS and are to be treasured. My own experiences on the NHS have all been terrific, including the birth of my daughter. I couldn't really say anything else but all my sisters are very positive about it, too."

Her role at the top of Holby is something of a promotion for Stella, who made her name in period fashion drama House of Elliott.

The Greenock-born actress appeared as a doctor for a couple of episodes in the first series of Casualty - Holby City's sister show - way back in 1986.

She said: "It was 21 years ago and all I remember was a lot of people telling us what to do and where to put things because of all the medical jargon.

"I was only in it for two episodes and that's all it was ever going to be. I was off to join the Royal Shakespeare Company for the first time and Casualty didn't seem that interested in asking me to stay and do any more.

"I suppose the big difference is that I'm not playing a doctor but playing management, which is a huge thing in hospitals now.

"The writers work really hard to make the show viable, as well as upping the drama, which is what people want to watch. That hasn't changed.

My sisters are very impressed by my elevation from doctor to chief executive of Holby City.

"In fact, they are endlessly amused. They found my doctor in Casualty very funny so goodness knows what they will think of my new management skills."

Holby is another step back into work for Stella, who is married to Chariots Of Fire and Poirot actor Nicholas Farrell. She took a break from a successful career to have her daughter, Natasha, in 2000.

She had starred on stage and screen, including the Scottish legal drama Advocates, award-winning series such as The Crow Road and, of course, the hugely successful House Of Elliott, which attracted audiences of more than ten million.

It was also the subject of an affectionate spoof by French and Saunders. Stella's co-star from the series, Louise Lombard, moved across the Atlantic and has adopted an American accent to become one of the stars of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Stella said: "We were good at keeping in touch for ages but since she moved to America we're not in contact so often.

"Louise still comes back every now and again and we try to get in touch. It's always great to see each other because we had a fantastic time.

"House Of Elliott was the very beginning of Louise's career and we had a special bond. That will never go away so it's wonderful to see her doing so well."

When Stella became pregnant with Natasha, she decided to stay at home, making only sporadic appearances in dramas such as Midsomer Murders, Foyle's War and Taggart.

She said: "I had my daughter and did not do anything that meant I was going to be away. I really wanted to be at home so things came along which I had to let go.

"But that was the decision I made and it was the right one for me. It's tricky - some people can do both really well but I didn't want her to grow up and find myself thinking, 'My God, where was I?' But now she is very secure at school and I feel I can begin to get on again.

"My Holby City part is a semi-regular role so what big storylines I will be in I don't know. But that suits me very much. I'm not tied to it every day and I can do other things - like the school run!"

Stella's seven-year-old daughter is so far unimpressed by her mother's return to screen.

She laughed: "If I was doing Springwatch with Bill Oddie or Doctor Who it would be different but Holby City isn't quite grabbing Natasha just yet. But she is only seven, so that's okay."

But Stella is very proud of her Scottish roots and makes sure she returns north of the border as often as she can.

She said: "I come home to see my mum. I have a lot of brothers and sisters and we're all scattered around.

"But every time I go home I think it's so friendly and so nice. I always wonder why I'm living in London.

"I'm very keen that my daughter knows she is half Scottish and is proud of that."

Stella's sisters would no doubt approve. Holby City is on BBC1 on Thursday at 8pm.

IF I WAS ON DOCTOR WHO OR SPRING WATCH WITH BILL ODDIE MY DAUGHTER WOULD BE IMPRESSED.. BUT HOLBY DOESN'T GRAB HER YET

CAPTION(S):

It's doctors and purses as Stella hires and fires at Holby City; What the Dickens...as Mrs Nickleby in Nicholas Nickleby; Grilling from detectives on Taggart was a killer of a role; Stella's House Of Elliott pal Louise, left, works in US; Husband Nicholas Farrell with David Suchet in Poirot
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 29, 2007
Words:1009
Previous Article:television: SOAP ROUND-UP.
Next Article:GIGS: NATASHA BEDINGFIELD.

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