Casualty ‘Thirty Years’ ~ Episode Review

It’s the episode that fans of Charlie and Duffy have been waiting impatiently for! We finally, FINALLY got a result in the Chuffy camp, and might I add, what superbly written scenes they were and knock out performances from Derek Thompson as Charlie and Cath Shipton as Duffy did no harm, either!

Romance was in the air in general in this week’s instalment, Lily (Crystal Yu) being one of the focuses as Alicia (Chelsea Halfpenny) cheekily asked her who her type of man was. Ric Griffin (Hugh Qurashie) was her first answer, which formed a picture in my mind that I felt I could live with. However, upon the arrival of Sebastian Grayling’s (Rik Makarem) father, played by the enigmatic and vastly experienced James Wilby, Lily’s attentions turned towards the bully boy – or certainly that’s who I perceived him to be. He put the fear of God into his Son, giving us and Dylan (Will Beck) a fascinating insight into why Sebastian is the way he is. One favour that Mr Grayling Senior has done for Sebastian, is to put him on an even-ish keel with Dylan, as Dr Keogh can relate to parent hang-ups! An interesting turn of events and it doesn’t look set to end there either. What was also apparent was that Iain (Michael Stevenson) was not appreciative of Alicia’s match making, the poor bloke looked devastated when Lily strutted into Reception looking very fine and blew her mate off for the F1’s Dad.

Meanwhile, the build up to Duffy and Charlie sealing the deal was a fraught road. If we hadn’t already seen the kissy photos, I feel we Chuffy fans may have begun to despair, probably around the time when Peter (Ricky Nixon), Duffy’s Son started to warn old Charlie boy off. Charlie and Duffy started the episode as a pair of wind up merchants, having managed to convince Jacob (Charles Venn) that a rare worm had been extracted from a patient. It was in fact a cola worm, but honestly you two, stop picking on poor Jacob, he’s got enough on his plate without you pair of scamps! It was quite a giggle to see the pair having some fun, though and I could have happily seen more of that before the laughter police entered in the form of Peter and his wife, Tanya (Sophie Austin). Austin is well known from Hollyoaks and I thought she was brilliantly cast in this role. Tanya was due to have a caesarean section the next day but she’s experiencing pain and Duffy is on it, with her Daughter-in-Law getting specialist treatment, a cubicle prepared for her arrival and everything!

Programme Name: Casualty 30 - Series 31 - TX: 05/11/2016 - Episode: Casualty 30 11 (No. 11) - Picture Shows:  Charlie Fairhead (DEREK THOMPSON), Lisa Duffin (CATHY SHIPTON) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Alistair Heap

Charlie Fairhead (DEREK THOMPSON), Lisa Duffin (CATHY SHIPTON) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Alistair Heap

Having a Mother-in-Law as a trained midwife is quite an asset. Especially when you happen to get locked inside an ambulance while you’re in the throes of labour because your Mother is a terminally ill alcoholic and she’s decided it’s a good test of your character to lock you in an ambulance and throw away the key. Trudie Goodwin played an outstanding part as Tanya’s estranged mother, Karen, who happens to end up in the same hospital at the same time as her daughter. Most girls would be delighted to see their Mother when their first child’s arrival is imminent, however had she neglected you when you were six years old and consequently become a jail bird? You’d be forgiven for being none too pleased to see her! However, Karen plays a significant part in bringing about the union of Duffy and Charlie, as they come together in super hero fashion and manage to deliver Duffy’s granddaughter. Oh and they also work as a tag team to have the little mite breathing, because all seems like it might be lost for a while there.

So, Duffy spends the day playing with cola worms, followed by a heated discussion with Peter about why they came back to England, via a heart-breaking moment with Charlie when he’s taken her Son’s words seriously and decided that pursuing his friend is off the cards. It’s a good job that thanks to Peter rooting in her handbag (he’d have had a slapped hand for that if he was my Son!) Charlie is reunited with an old photograph which subsequently sets the wheels in motion for a declaration of feelings. Under a moonlit sky with soft music playing? Come on, this is Casualty, it’s obviously going to be in a store cupboard while Duffy has vomit in her hair.

On a serious note, this was a strong episode for more than simply the much awaited romance for two of the show’s favourite characters. This was exceptionally well acted, particularly during the scene where we see Karen bring a cardigan to give to her granddaughter and she bids an emotional farewell to Tanya. I thought, there’s a television acting master class if ever there was one.



Spotlight On… Star of Casualty, Cath Shipton

Thing’s are hotting up for Casualty’s Duffy (Cath Shipton) and Charlie (Derek Thompson), this week, as the shift sees the nurses working together to deliver Duffy’s grandchild. There’s also an admission of feelings, but is it on both sides? I chatted to Cath Shipton to find out whether Charlie and Duffy are due a happy ending.

Programme Name: Casualty 30 - Series 31 - TX: 05/11/2016 - Episode: Casualty 30 11 (No. 11) - Picture Shows:  Charlie Fairhead (DEREK THOMPSON), Lisa Duffin (CATHY SHIPTON) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Alistair Heap
Casualty 30 – Picture Shows: Charlie Fairhead (DEREK THOMPSON), Lisa Duffin (CATHY SHIPTON) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Alistair Heap

Hi Cath, thanks for talking to Break A Leg, so the last time viewers saw an exchange between Duffy and Charlie was during and after his school reunion, where it seemed clear that there were feelings on Duffy’s part, at least, where are things leading to between them?

What tends to happen is that it’s under their noses but without them being aware of it, both of the characters enjoy being in each other’s company and it’s like their best pal’s just come back into orbit. They’re just really happy, things are going well and a few of the other characters start making comments about them which they either over-hear and deny or other characters deny on their behalf. There’s a lot of playfulness, there’s a nice scene where we send Jacob (Charlie Venn) up – Charlie and Duffy gang up to play him up, which is great fun.

What can we expect in the next episode?

That’s the crunch time, Duffy’s Son, Peter and his wife, Tanya come into the hospital because Tanya, who is due to have a caesarean section the next day at another hospital, has been having pains. Duffy suggests that she comes in to be checked over and Tanya is in for a shock when she sees her mother, Karen (Trudie Goodwin) has also been brought into Holby City. Karen neglected Tanya as a child and had ended up in prison. Duffy has to manage her daughter-in-law’s early onset of labour as Tanya’s waters break due to the shock of seeing her mother. At the same time, Peter has seen moments between his mum and Charlie, so he’s warning Charlie off.

Does Charlie take that warning seriously?

Charlie then absolutely cools it, as far as he’s concerned it’s off, and he leaves her stranded. There’s a scene where she’s put it out there and he tells her she has a lovely family who she should stay with and effectively shuts the door. However, Tanya goes into labour early, her mother has locked her in the back of an ambulance and thrown the keys down the drain. With no spare keys available, Charlie smashes the window and Peter ends up seeing Duffy and Charlie working together as a team to deliver his baby in a very tricky situation. Tanya would never have got through the birth without them as the baby is breach.

Does that mean the viewers get a happy ending?

Well, because Charlie and Duffy have had this moment before and he has brushed her off, she moves away from him after the birth. Karen, Tanya’s mother comes back and makes it up with her, meanwhile Duffy apologises for bringing Peter and Tanya over to England and says that they can all go back to New Zealand together. However, Tanya assures Duffy that she’s alright living in over here. Meanwhile, Charlie is hovering in the background and Duffy goes out for some air. Peter takes the opportunity to approach Charlie with an old photograph from his mum’s handbag and tells Charlie that whenever Duffy was going through a difficult time, she would get this photograph out and it kept her strong. 

Programme Name: Casualty 30 - Series 31 - TX: 05/11/2016 - Episode: Casualty 30 11 (No. 11) - Picture Shows:  Charlie Fairhead (DEREK THOMPSON), Lisa Duffin (CATHY SHIPTON) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Alistair Heap
-Episode: Casualty 30 11 Picture Shows: Charlie Fairhead (DEREK THOMPSON), Lisa Duffin (CATHY SHIPTON) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Alistair Heap

 Which leads Charlie to go and find her?

Yes, Charlie finds her crying and trying to put her make-up back on, he puts the photo in front of her face. Duffy’s confused and says she thought he said she had to fight for her marriage, but Charlie replies that thirty years is worth fighting for. This leads to Charlie kissing Duffy!

Hooray, say Charlie and Duffy (Chuffy) fans everywhere!

You’ll have to wait for my next interview with Cath to find out where this romance between Charlie and Duffy will lead to.

Casualty ‘Fall On Me’ ~ Episode Review

The aftermath of the 30th anniversary episode was predictably harrowing, luckily Duffy (Cath Shipton) was still on hand to soothe the situation, and by the time the episode reached its finale, it looks like Charlie (Derek Thompson) has won £20!

A pitifully bruised and battered Connie (Amanda Mealing) is keeping an anxious vigil at Grace’s (Emily Carey) bedside, while Jacob (Charles Venn) is struggling to hold it together as his ‘world’ is crashing around him. One thing’s for sure, he’s in desperate need of the likes of Duffy to support the department while his mind is elsewhere. Similarly, Louise (Azuka Oforka) is not entirely of sound mind and required Nurse Duffin’s input when she kicks a sizeable hole in the relative’s room wall. Young Grace’s horrific accident has affected Louise deeply, although she’s reluctant to admit it.

Cath Shipton has made a welcome return as Duffy.

The two main storylines are excellently portrayed, first there’s Alicia (Chelsea Halfpenny) who is wrongly pointing the finger at her mother for adultery and makes the subsequent decision to have fun. Poor Ethan’s (George Rainsford) heart seems to be breaking a little bit, as the girl who saw him through the helicopter trauma seems hell-bent on debauchery.

Then there’s another diagnostic triumph for Dylan (Will Beck) when a mum-to-be is experiencing loud noises in her head and fears that she is suffering for Schizophrenia. It’s fortunate that Louise is not willing to accept the possibility of a mental health related diagnosis before ruling out physical health. Elle (Jaye Griffith) is rather too rash to judge, again and finds herself in the wake of Dylan’s expertise.

I found the episode was as beautifully shot as the first episode of the series and it lends an air of empathy and comfort to the overall ambience of the scenes. I have high hopes that this series is to be one of Casualty’s best.

Photo credits: BBC


Casualty ‘History Repeating’ ~ Review Of 1000th Episode

Casualty reached a momentous milestone last night, 1000 episodes in the can! To mark this auspicious occasion? Bring back one of the most beloved characters who has been coming and going since her appearance in the very first episode in 1986. Yes, Duffy (played by Cath Shipton) returned as an agency Nurse again, and the word on the ED is that she’s going to be back to stay. That should put a smile on Nurse Fairhead’s face, the chemistry was always there between Charlie and Duffy, and there were a few nods towards a potential relationship development.

It seems that while she was on the other side of the world with her husband Ryan and three sons, Duffy trained as a midwife. This extra skill came in handy last night when Dr Elle Gardner (Jaye Griffiths) was faced with a tough decision, a pregnant mother with a blood clot in her lung was adamant that her 7 month old fetus as not going to be delivered by caesarian section. For Nurse Louise Tyler (Azuka Oforka) it was a situation that was too reminiscent of her past experience, and it was lucky that Duffy was on hand to steady the situation.

Jaye Griffiths plays Dr Elle Gardner

The other central storyline revolved around Dr Dylan Keogh, who’s father ended up in the ED as well as his half sister. An ethical debate ensued and a heart to heart with the sullen Consultant’s step-mum, which was long over-due, took place. Maybe a wake-up call for the loveable grump?

William Beck plays Dr Dylan Keogh

Not forgetting poor Rita, yet another let down in her love life, will the jilted Nurse ever catch a break? Of course, us viewers could all see it coming a mile off, which made it all the more heart wrenching to watch!


My overall opinion? An excellent 1000th episode which showed the team doing what they do best and had an equal measure of crises in personal lives, too. If you’re like me, I expect you were watching for the chemistry between Charlie and Duffy? Bring it on, say I!


All photo credits: BBC

Spotlight On… Cath Shipton

*** Spotlight On… Cath Shipton***

20150408_164316 (1) soaps-casualty-duffy-returns-2

After a 9 year break from the role of ‘Duffy’, actress Cath Shipton returned to our screens as the much-loved original character in ‘Casualty’ in August this year. We know there is a huge demand for the character to return full-time and we’re here to lead that campaign with our exclusive interview with the talented lady who has played her, on and off since 1986.

It was a delight to see Duffy return to our screens, we’ve missed her ‘experience’ and it’s evident there’s still a place for her to fit right back into. How did you feel when you were asked to come back, and do you also feel that she’d slide right back in as if she never left?
I was so surprised when I was asked to come back for Eps 1 & 2 – it
came like a bolt from the blue. When I heard that Paul Unwin – one the
series creators had written the scripts and was directing them, my
immediate answer was yes. When I eventually read the scripts, I was
even more surprised to see that Duffy wasn’t just popping in to say
hello, but actually nursing on the night-shift – and what a

I was apprehensive about joining the cast – the only person I knew was
Derek – Charlie and I would be joining them in Cardiff, all new
surroundings. I needn’t have worried. Once I put the uniform on and
stepped onto the set, the years fell away and after a few teary
moments with Derek – who was very moved to see me, it was ‘business as
usual’ It was great to be part of the new talented and very committed
team. No wonder the show has lasted for so long!

Did you find getting into the character an easy transition after all this time?
Getting back into character wasn’t difficult having created Duffy and
played her at various times over the last 29(!) series. She is
obviously based loosely on me, and one new element was that Paul had
given her new skills and an air of quiet authority that comes with age
and experience and so it felt like the character had been developed
and was moving into new territory.
What do you feel you learned as an actor from such a lengthy period on a hit TV show?
One of the hardest things about being in a long running show is to
keep everything fresh. Most characters will be on their own path –
with information only shared by the audience eg Dylan and OCD. Duffy
knows nothing of this and treats him quite harshly – she just sees a
doctor behaving badly. However she does make him think and he must
have gone back to the pregnant woman as the next time you see him he
is resus asking Connie to let his patient go to the Cath Lab instead
of Charlie. He flicks a look at Duffy to acknowledge that he was maybe
out of order. As a character you do share your secrets with the
audience and that is a great feeling. They see the secret side and
thoughts of a character.
One thing that has also amazed me is just how much the audience absorb
and retain – they know so much about the characters. One episode years
ago Duffy had a quiet night and wasn’t on screen much. A member of the
public came up to me on the Monday and said ‘ You were busy on
Saturday’ – I looked confused and he said, ‘Well we didn’t see much of
you, you must have been busy with patients!’ He had built another
scenario of Duffy’s night.
Do you have any comic out-take memories or highlights that you can share with us from your days on the show?
Sometimes the crew have been known to do funny things during takes –
once as I stood listening in a cubicle, with little dialogue, someone
put a tied-up surgical glove filled with banana into my hand –
squishy! Of course I couldn’t laugh but I found out who did it and
threw it at him.
Another time, a young guest artist in resus was very fussy about us
cutting a bandage off his head. He was worried we’d cut his hair. In a
break, Derek and I trimmed bits of hair off the cast and crew and made
a pile under his head. When we revealed our ‘mistake’ the poor guy
went ballistic – bit cruel really. We did let him know.
Once I overheard Ian Kelsey saying he didn’t like goatee beards, when
they were the height of fashion. I told him I’d overheard a make-up
artist saying that was to be the new look for Patrick Spiller. I also
got a script editor to join in. We kept it going for about 2 weeks and
he was really worried and talking about it non-stop. Eventually it got
up to the producer and before the meeting I came clean with Ian that
it was only a joke.
If you went back as a permanent fixture, again (assuming you would want to) where would you like to see the character ‘go’?
If they were to develop the character in the future – there is quite a
lot of mileage already set up – Duffy having left her family in NZ, do
they follow/split-up? There could be dramatic story tensions in the
department with several of the present characters, and who knows even
romance? Lots of scope!
Moving away from ‘Casualty’, you’ve enjoyed a varied acting career, have you any particular ambitions for future roles or shows you would like to be involved with?
I really enjoyed performing the one woman show – ‘Soldiers’ Wives’ by
Sarah Daniels. I was nominated as best solo performer 2012 in
Edinburgh. Until you go solo it is a terrifying prospect, but really
it is telling a story – the foundation of what we do as actors. I am
currently working on the next project with Sarah, as well as a new TV
Future ambitions – classical roles: Shakespeare, Ibsen & Chekhov, and
one day I’d love to play Miss Marple!
Marathon running is one of your passions (and you’ve written a manual about it!) so what inspired you to run marathons and where have you most enjoyed running one?
I have run 4 London Marathons – only London and written a book. I was
inspired because I was asked to run for \the British Heart Foundation,
having lost my dad to heart disease in 1985, once I started running I
couldn’t stop, it just suited me. I did that for over 10 years and
every London was great and I still watch it on TV – the crowd is
amazing and really gets you through.
I’m a trained aerobics teacher – the fad of the 80’s, now I do
pilates, gym and walking. Marathon days are behind me!
Finally, if you cold have a dinner party with any five famous people (dead or alive), who would they be?
John Lennon, Mary Seacole, Dalai Llama, Joan Rivers and Albert Einstein!
Favourite things (quick-fire questions):
Favourite television programme?
The Bridge/any Nordic drama
Favourite film?
Some like it Hot!
Favourite childhood memory?
Flying my homemade kite for hours on the cliffs at
Highcliffe in summer holidays.
Favourite hobby?
Favourite holiday destination?





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