Her predecessor was shot and killed, so Cardale’s new doctor will need her wits about her…
Actress Maggie O’Neill soon discovered she needed a strong stomach to work on Peak Practice. Her first scene had her faking the delivery of a baby who was being strangled by it’s own umbilical cord – with a particularly unappetising piece of meat as the main prop!
‘We couldn’t use the real thing, so sausage meat was used instead,’ says Maggie, 38. ‘It’s just as well I’m not squeamish!’
In this week’s first episode, Maggie’s character, former Army doctor Alex Redman, becomes an instant heroine when she rescues a father and his dangerously-ill daughter from a blazing vehicle.
‘Alex sees the practice in Cardale as the ideal place to restart her life, after splitting up with her husband,’ says Maggie. ‘She’s immediately put to the test when her husband turns up pleading for another chance.’
Dr Redman is set to become a permanent fixture at The Beeches, where life is now more hectic than ever. She replaces Joanna Graham, who was gunned down by a crazed farmer at the end of the last series. Drs Andrew Attwood and Sam Morgan are struggling to run the practice helped out by Dr Tom Deneley. Their new colleague Alex proves to be an asset to them – even if she does have some unhealthy habits. ‘She’s quite a heavy smoker,’ says Maggie.’ Fortunately, I was allowed to use a pretend cigarette, so I didn’t choke to death.’
Peak Practice is Maggie’s first long-running drama. Until now, she’s tended to stick to one-off dramas or short series. ‘It had got to the point where there was too much time between jobs,’ reveals Maggie, who recently played Ross Kemp’s wife in ITV’s Hero of the Hour. ‘I wanted to be in a position where I knew what I was going to be doing for the next six months.’
Before Peak Practice, Maggie worked on the BBC sci-fi drama Invasion: Earth. where she learned a lot of technical jargon. ‘The key was to look as I knew what I was on about even if I didn’t have a clue! she says. ‘It’s the same on Peak Practice – I’m gobsmacked when all these medical terms come out of my mouth properly!’