Saskia Wickham TV Times Interview – February 1996

She’s taken over from Amanda Burton in the top doctor drama and already Saskia Wickham is making waves – especially among the male medics

Saskia Wickham certainly went in at the deep end when she took over the leading lady doctor role in the hit medical drama series Peak Practice. She’d hardly been on the show five minutes when she found herself filming underwater for a freezing lake rescue.

‘Early in the shoot the stuntman said, ‘You do know how to use diving gear, don’t you?’, ‘ Saskia reveals. ‘I had a cold for weeks afterwards. But I really enjoy doing such a great show, despite the chilly temperatures.’

Despite other problems, too…Peak Practice has lost two of it’s stars, Kevin Whately and Amanda Burton, who took the series soaring up the ratings with 14 million viewers. Now Saskia, and the remaining two regulars, Simon Shepherd, who plays Dr Will Preston, and Gary Mavers, who stars as Dr Andrew Attwood, must wait to see whether viewers will be equally happy with the new look for the new series.

‘I just hope we can keep up the high standards,’ says Saskia. ‘Obviously Amanda’s a hard act to follow, she was brilliant as Beth Glover. But the whole set-up has changed now that Jack Kerruish and Beth have left, and my character Erica Mathews, is totally different to Beth. ‘She’s spirited and impetuous. She’s not afraid to say what she thinks and often has rows because she speaks her mind. Unfortunately, she doesn’t always think things through and because she’s so impulsive she tends to clash with Will, who’s more responsible and sensible.’

The Beeches wouldn’t be the same without love and romance, but Saskia says: ‘There’s not so much romance as sexual tension sparking all over the place. Erica has an ex-boyfriend and definitely has some moments with both Will and Andrew. I know something’s going to happen but I don’t know exactly what.’

Her own love life’s simpler, although Saskia, 27, has been separated from her husband Sean for two years. ‘I’m sad it happened but it’s all in the past.’ she says. ‘I’m seeing someone else now.’

She’s been best known on TV in the title role of the controversial BBC2 costume drama Clarissa, in which she was brutally raped by Sean Bean’s evil Lovelace, and as Michael Elphick’s leather-clad sidekick in ITV’s Boon.

Saskia followed her father Jeffry Wickham into acting – he played her father in Clarissa – but for help with her Peak Practice role she turned to her sister-in-law Jo, who’s a city GP. ‘In the first episode, Erica has to resuscitate a little girl. Jo said you mustn’t blow too hard or it will burst the lungs,’ explains Saskia. ‘You wouldn’t notice it on screen, but I felt better knowing I was doing it right. Jo says Peak Practice is very realistic as it shows the human side of doctoring. Doctors don’t just give injections, they give psychological help, too. It must be an incredibly demanding job. I think I’ll stick to acting – even if you do have to get wet sometimes!’

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