Test of Will
Actor Simon Shepherd has been through the emotional mill since he started playing Dr Will Preston in Peak Practice four years ago. His character has suffered a nervous breakdown, a marital split and the heartache of seeing his two children head off to a new life in America with their mother Sarah. This week, as the fifth series begins, Will seems to have found happiness at last, as his new partner, Dr. Kate Webster (Shelah McLeod) gives birth to a baby daughter Emily.
‘When Sarah and the boys went off to America it left a void in Will’s life,’ explain Simon. ‘So when Kate got pregnant, he was delighted, because he felt he could start his life again.’ But the couple’s newfound joy is short lived when it emerges that Emily is seriously ill. Can Will find the strength to support Kate through this new crisis? ‘All I’ll say is that this is one of the best storylines I’ve ever had.’ says Simon. ‘Will finds it difficult to face up to the fact that his child is ill. While Kate’s copes by pulling away from him.’
It’s no secret that this will be Simon’s last series of Peak Practice, although he is reluctant to reveal exactly when and how he leaves Cardale. ‘When you play a character for a long time you bring a lot of yourself to the parts and I didn’t want to go as a result of a silly plot,’ explains Simon, who has quit the show to start in the ITV drama Bliss to be shown later this year. ‘That definitely hasn’t happened. There comes a point where you have to move on. The pilot episode of Bliss last year was well received and I felt I owed it to myself to try something new and fresh.’
Simon, 40, admits that he was also keen to take a break and spend more time with his wife Alex and their children, Joe, eight, five year old twins, Arthur and Billie, and 18 month old Beatrice. ‘When Bliss finished filming just before Christmas, I promised myself a few months off to rest and work out where I want to go next. The door has been left open for me to return to Peak Practice although I can’t stay at this stage whether I would or not because I’m too tired to think beyond the end of next week. But I am a workaholic at heart, so who knows what the future might hold for Will.’