INTERVIEW BY: Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan
RM: We’ve now got an appointment with TV’s sexiest new doctor, actress Shelagh McLeod. They say on TV you’re never more then five minutes away from a snog, well you’re about 25 seconds away from a snog here. It’s from ITV’s hit medical drama Peak Practice. It’s got a sure-fire prescription for success. It’s got snappy storylines about the lives and loves of a group of doctors in the lovely Derbyshire dales. Kevin Whately and Amanda Burton have left the show, but new doctor Kate Webster is guaranteed to set a few pulses racing….
(clip from Series 4, Episode 5, Will and Kate’s first kiss)
RM: You barely touched lips then before you were getting him up the stairs!
SM: I know! Forward girl!
JF: Your first appearance, is it coming up this week?
SM: No I was in episode one, I’m not in the next episode and then I carry on and our relationship develops from then on
JF: So you’re sort of an item. It’s clear from that clip that you’ve both gone through divorces
SM: Yes, we’ve both been fairly damaged so we go into this relationship scared
RM: It’s happened very quickly. Do you watch the adventures of super man?
SM: Yes I love it
RM: Isn’t it great?
SM: Yes, I’m trying to get my hair done like Lois!
RM: Like Lois! Isn’t it a mistake though that they’ve got together? I think it’s taken a lot of the tension out
SM: It has and her characters changed. She’s become incredibly sweet and I liked her when she was tough and feisty
RM: The reason I asked you was because, is there a slight danger that you two have got together too quickly? Should there have been more tension perhaps between the two doctors?
SM: Hard question. Well we don’t actually get it together until episode five and then we do have the usual spit spat relationship. There’s fallings out and will I move in? Won’t I move in? Yes it’s always a problem but I suppose if you bring it in episode 10, everyone’s waiting for it to happen, it happens in the last five seconds and then it’s over
RM: You feel cheated I suppose
SM: Yes and it was nice kissing Simon so you know, I enjoyed it!
JF: He and his wife are good friends of you and your husband aren’t they?
SM: Yes, we used to live literally two doors away from each other in Shepherds Bush
RM: Does that make it more difficult? To play a love scene with someone you do know socially, you’ve had dinner with and all that
SM: He’s a very, very good friend and that is hard. He’s a very, very good friend and it’s very nice to kiss him. What can I say, it blends, it was fine
JF: Do you regard this as being a major break for you? It is a very popular series. It gets massive ratings
RM: I bet your agent does!
SM: I think she does too! I’ve been around for a long time, I’ve done a lot of TV. I worked in the states a lot. I was there for seven and a half years doing extensive TV work; A Team…blah …blah. It is a big break in that it’s a hugely watched show and I don’t think I’ve ever worked in such a high profile show. So yes, it is a break.
RM: And what about the sexiest doc on the box tag which we’ve been relentlessly plugging all morning?
SM: It’s the first I’ve heard of it. It’s great, I’m really flattered
RM: Well as Judy has confessed in the past there is something ornately sexy about a male doctor to a lot of women – is there now?
SM: Well everybody’s in love with Will. Everybody’s in love with Simon Shepherd. I don’t even get a look in. In Derbyshire everybody stampedes me to get to him!
JF: Really? He gets mobbed does he?
SM: Yes he does, he really does. We stopped to get some milk and suddenly he was swamped with these women and I was like ‘yeah, I’m in it too’, and they were going ‘really, oh well move aside you’re a woman’!
RM: It won’t be long and you’ll be swamped by the men
JF: So when did you go to America then? It’s quite unusual for an English woman to make a career out there isn’t it?
SM: Yes, I did it the wrong way round. I went before I was anybody. I was fed up with England. I went over when I was 23, I’d done a big thing over here called ‘Cream in my Coffee’ and I didn’t work for 6 months afterwards and I thought ‘Sod this. I’m going!’. I went too Canada first, worked there for a year and then went on to LA and worked in LA for seven years. I used to come home but I was based there.
RM: You say you were in The A Team, with George Peppard and Mr T?
RM: It was such a laugh that programme
SM: I loved it, it was a big thing to get it
RM: Did you play a Brit?
SM: Yes I did and Mr T said I had soft hands! That’s all he said to me the whole show, I couldn’t speak to him. I couldn’t even think to say to him
JF: There have been rumours since, that actually it wasn’t a very happy show off set because George Peppard and Mr T couldn’t stand each other
SM: Is that true?
JF: Well I don’t know, that’s what’s been said
RM: Well the thing is George Peppard had been a star for decades and Mr T came from nowhere, this is what we hear. We weren’t there you were
SM: Mr T was swamped with bodyguards. I mean he had 15 bodyguards and you were introduced as the guest star for that week and then you went. George Peppard was lovely, a really nice man
RM: So why did you come back?
SM: Oh, divorce, personal things and also it was time to come back. I’d been there 7 years and my agent in London said to me ‘You have to decide where you’re going to be. You can’t keep doing this’. I was trying to keep a career going here, I was trying to keep a career going there. So I came back and put my toe in the water and thought ‘actrually, I want to live in England now, I miss it and it’s time to come back’. I’ve been to enough aerobic classes!
RM: Well I was going to ask you about that. Did you find that a pressure?
SM: There’s a huge pressure to look good. If you’re looking tired they start to bring in large lights and lots of make-up and tell you ‘go to a plastic surgeon!’. But yes there was pressure and I’m better at looking at the machines in the gym then actually using them. I’m not very good at all that. I used to make a pretence of going to the gym.
JF: You actually had a very severe operation on your spine didn’t you? Which must have caused some problems. Were you virtually flat on your back for several months?
SM: Yes I was. 5 weeks in hospital and having major, major fusions done to my spine, and complaining bitterly about it. I was the worst patient!
JF: What would’ve happened had you not had that operation? What was it called, Scoliosis?
SM: It would’ve got worse. I mean it was fine as it was but my surgeon said ‘Look you’re fine now but when you’re in your 50’s or 60’s you’re going to have problems with your spine’.
JF: Was your spine curving?
SM: It was beginning to curve and he said ‘If we do something now it’ll be fine but if we don’t do it now’..and he kept saying ‘You’re over 30’, and I said ‘I’m not old’, and he said ‘Yes, but you’re over 30. This is a serious operation, let’s get it done now as appose to coming back to me when you’re 55 and you’re in trouble.’
RM: It’s fine now is it?
SM: Fine yes, probably stronger then anyone else’s back
RM: You can probably do it yourself now, after this series is over!
SM: I don’t think so, I’m too squeamish. It’s the recovery period that’s the tough bit. You’ve got to sit there and wait to get better, that for me was the hardest thing because I’m not a patient person…
RM: No, you’re a doctor person! Well congratulations on Peak Practice
JF: Good luck with it and we hope you’ll be in it for many series to come