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Amanda Mealing: "I'm nothing like Connie. I'm very chilled"
Interview by Carl Marsh
you currently play the character Connie Beauchamp in Casualty, and also played the same role in the sister show Holby City previously; how do you think you would fair if you were a doctor in real life, or would you run a mile at the first sight of blood?
I have learnt so much over the years that the consultants on set leave me to explain to the newbie’s how to perform procedures, or pronounce the medical jargon. I once heard a train announcer call for a medic and just about stopped myself from standing up! I've been to lots of heart operations and found them fascinating.
Why did you come back to the role of Connie, albeit on a different show, did you feel that you had more opportunities in Casualty with the part, than in Holby City?
Connie is such an amazing character to play, there are too few strong and independent women on screen. The only way it was be possible for Connie to be on screen again was in the sister show. To just return to the same situation would be limited. This way we have been able to see her in a different light, with different dynamics.
I know that many thousands of your fans will be reading this, and the vast majority will be wanting to know how much of Connie is Amanda, or how much of Amanda is Connie?
I'm nothing like Connie. I'm very chilled and carefree. Love my books, love my sport. I suppose a little of me is rubbing off on Connie as she now rides a motorbike!
Filming in Cardiff with Casualty, how are you finding it in this glorious country of Wales?
My husband and boys have moved with me to Wales and we absolutely love it here. Amazing scenery and wonderful people. Plus we are a rugby mad family, so it's perfect. My youngest loves it so much, he wants to play rugby for Wales!
Throughout your career (and before Holby City and Casualty) you have worked with some of the UK's finest and most talented writers, directors and producers. Would you say working with Russell T Davies, Jimmy McGovern and Alan Bleasdale were your most memorable performances on screen, and what did you take from working with them all?
You've chosen my three favourites there! What I take from each of those is a strong sense of staying true to yourself. Whether that be in your choices, or the way you conduct yourself. Each of those men has an enduring passion for their art, and yet it doesn't preclude them from still appreciating and enthusing about it as if just starting out. I have that too.
Is there any question that you have always wanted to be asked but no-one has yet, and if so, what is that question, and what would your answer be?
I suppose it would be the Royal Shakespeare Company asking me to play Lady M. Yes, would be the answer. I have never played any Shakespeare and would love to. I say Lady M because so many people say I should do it.
You know I am a big campaigner when it comes to getting more people into reading books, I know you love books too, so why should people read more?
A book has the ability to transport you anywhere without moving from your seat. You can delve into the lives of others, be privy to the most noble or the most depraved moments; be inspired, be educated, be adventurous, feel love, feel curious, feel free. Nothing can give those things and more so deeply without consequence. Books are magic.
What author or type of books do you prefer, and is there any standalone book that would always be number one as your favourite read?
I love thrillers. But read mostly anything. I'm so pleased my boys are as taken with reading as I am. The one book that I relished most was The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Every sentence was like silk over me. I was swathed in the prose. Beautiful.
If you were not an actress from such a very young age, and even when you had just left school, was there ever a time where you thought acting was not for you, and did you consider some other profession?
Never. I have been blessed to follow my heart and follow my childhood dreams. In my fantasy I could have been an F1 driver or astronaut but no, I am living my dream.
Do you ever need motivating, or are you always a 'glass is always full' type of person?
I need to try and do less. I definitely don't need motivating. I work from 7am-7pm Monday-Friday, whilst studying for a Psychology degree, and I am about to direct a short film. The glass is half full but in need of a few more hours in the day.
I read a while back that you had passed your motorcycle licence, what made you want to do such a thing, as you would be the last person I would expect zooming past me around Cardiff?
I am a speed freak and petrol-head. I still need to finish my pilot's license, then I might be satisfied. I adore motor biking. I have a beautiful BMW R Nine T. 1200cc I call Beauty and the Beast. She's stunning to look at and a monster on the road.
You do a lot of work for the charity Breast Cancer Care, (that is what claimed the life of my Mum at such a young age of 46). What can you say about what them?
That's very sad to hear. I'm so sorry. It's an awful disease. My work with Breast Cancer Care is to help ensure that the support, which is much needed when diagnosed, is there for others as it was for me. No matter how loving and supportive your loved ones are, it is a lonely journey. And BCC is made up of trained nurses and others that have been affected, so anyone can speak to someone with experience and understanding not just empathy. It makes a huge difference.
One thing I have to ask and to end the interview is, if you were an animal, what would it be, and why?
A tiger. I've adopted one each for my boys. A friend has a re-wilding programme called Save South China Tigers which started with tigers from zoos in China, breeding from them, and allowing them to roam safe but under observation on her 300 sq km reserve in South Africa. With protection and rare human interaction, it ensures they learn essential hunting skills to enable a return to the wilds of China.