Playing a hospital medic almost made Gray O’Brien a casualty of love. Now he’s a GP in Peak Practice – but this time the doctor knows prevention is better then cure.
When Gray O’Brien was offered the part of Peak Practices new doctor it meant not just a new job but a new way of life.
He and wife Lynn left their Glasgow flat, friends and family to move to an idyllic country cottage in the middle of Derbyshire where the show is filmed. And now instead of the sound of rush hour traffic they are woken by the local cockerel.
But Gray, 31, says they both knew moving lock, stock and barrel for his new job was the only way to keep their marriage going. Long separations when he was filming Casualty in Bristol and Lynn was home in Scotland, put the relationship under enormous strain.
Gray says: ‘We saw the dangers of being apart again. If we wanted a future together we knew we had to stay together on the job. I think it is distance more then anything that splits up so many actors’ marriages. I love being able to go home to Lynn after work.’
The couple were apart for nine months – and on the point of divorce – when they managed to sort out their differences. But Gray says most of their problems were caused by living at opposite ends of the country while he was playing Casualty’s Dr Richard McCaig. ‘It was a dreadful time but we are now more in love and closer and we appreciate each other more.’
Lynn gave up her job as a PA at a finance firm to move to Derbyshire. ‘She deserves not to work for a while,’ says Gray. ‘She supported me when I came out of drama school and when I left Casualty and the work dried up.’
Gray admits he was cautious about playing another doctor but the role of Tom Deneley was too good to miss. Tom’s bringing up his baby alone after the death of his lover Dr Joanna Graham at the end of the last series.
City boy Gray loves playing a country GP and then going home to rural life. However his happiness was shattered weeks before the end of filming the new series when his 65-year-old father Eddie died from a heart attack.
Gray says: ‘He died within minutes. In a way I’m glad he didn’t suffer and went so quickly but we are all devastated. I miss him very much. I’d just been up to Glasgow and spent almost the entire day with Mum and Dad the Sunday before and I’m very grateful I did that. My father had been down to the set. He’d never done it before and he’d never shown an interest. I always thought he thought I was odd because I was the only one out of the seven of us who didn’t have a proper job. I was the sort of black sheep and he didn’t understand what I did. But on set he was so excited and took lots of photos. On the Sunday I was with them and my Mum showed me the album he’d put them in and he’d written beside each one. It was only then that I realised he was proud of me. I was chocked. I’m so glad I found out how he felt before he died.’
Now Gray plans to spend his break from filming Peak Practice helping his mum Anne. ‘My mum has always been the backbone of the family. Now she needs someone to look after her and fortunately I can find that time.’