Q&A with BBC One Casualty's Emily Carey
Young Epilepsy recently reported on an episode of BBC One’s Casualty, which saw Grace, played by Emily Carey, experiencing a tonic clonic seizure after she was diagnosed with brain damage following a head injury. After reaching out to Emily, Young Epilepsy agreed for her to do a Q&A with the charity’s supporters. They responded in high volumes. Here’s Emily answering these key questions.
Rhys has asked: How do you feel, presenting a real condition that affects so many people?
Answer: I feel a huge sense of responsibility. It’s so important to me to be able to give as much of a true portrayal as I can. I feel inspired and honoured to have the opportunity to do this. It’s so important to me to get this right as it’s so personal to so many people.
Abi and Katy have asked: What did it feel like to get this storyline?
Answer: When the story producers first talked to me about Grace’s storyline I felt very privileged. As a young actress it’s an incredible feeling to be trusted with such a huge storyline which has the potential to raise awareness of the condition.
Jessica and Katie have asked: How did you feel about doing this storyline?
Answer: I do feel a huge sense of responsibility. I was fairly overwhelmed at first as there was such a lot to learn and understand about what Grace was facing and the impact on her and those around her.
Maisie has asked: What difficulties did you face when having to present this situation?
Answer: Having to have seizures was quite difficult for me as I’ve never personally experienced it and I absolutely wanted to get it right. For each take we do, I have to go fully into a tonic clonic seizure. I know that for someone with this type of epilepsy an actual seizure takes every ounce of energy from you so it’s important to give it as much as I can every single take.
Sarah-Jayne has asked: How significant do you feel the coverage of an epilepsy storyline is for viewers unaware of the disorder?
Answer: It is extremely important to raise awareness of conditions like this. BBC Casualty are very good at addressing and highlighting these kind of issues and have covered so many different things in their 30 years. My aunt worked on the show several years ago and she told me they produced a spin off called ‘Casualty Saved My Life’, where viewers had the chance to tell their stories of how they actually used knowledge gained from the show to either recognise symptoms in themselves or others and some who used skills they had picked up from the show to help someone else in an emergency. The fact a storyline can have such an impact in real life shows how important it is to cover these issues and to get them right. BBC Casualty is a great platform for this. I’m delighted Grace’s storyline has been taken in this direction and has potentially helped to raise some awareness.
Lauryn has asked: Did you have to study to perform the role and how did the idea of you performing this storyline come around?
Answer: Yes I did have to study and I did a lot of online research. The researchers on the show are wonderful and they organised for me to visit The Children’s Trust. The staff talked me through a lot of the issues for children with brain injury and helped me to understand the journey Grace would have been facing with her own injuries. I also had the pleasure of meeting some of the children and young people there and hearing their own stories. They were a huge help and inspiration to be both as an actress but also as a young person.
We also have an amazing team of real doctors on set who act as medical advisors and they helped me through each of the stages of Grace’s recovery and explained it in medical terms that I can understand.
The idea for the storyline comes from the producers, story producers and writers. When they decided Grace would suffer a brain injury they mapped out her whole journey in a realistic time frame which they do alongside the medical advisers and experts on the condition. It’s important to be factual but also to give hope.
Becca has asked: Is it a hard storyline to act?
Answer: Yes it is. I’m very much a perfectionist and just want to get it right for those who live with the reality of the condition every day of their lives. It can be exhausting at times especially after several takes but I am so well supported by the whole team on set.
Jasmine asked: What advice would you give to someone, like me, who suffers from epilepsy? Which scene was the toughest to act?
The toughest scene I think would be the first time Grace had a seizure which was in the 30th anniversary episode when Grace went for a CT scan just after the helicopter crash. I was on the trolley with lots of things stuck to me and sticky fake blood everywhere too. I didn’t enjoy going into the scanner and then of course making sure the seizure was as realistic as possible. Nick, our real life doctor who was advising on set (fondly known as Medical Nick) was fantastic and after each take, corrected my movements and position so I could get it as realistic as possible.