Multi-talented Pontypridd actress Kimberley Nixon has swapped comedy for casualty thanks to her new role in medical drama Critical, which comes to Sky 1 this winter.
Created by Line of Duty’s Jed Mercurio, Critical documents the vital “golden hour” where a team of trauma doctors fight to save the life of their patients during the most vital moment of their treatment.
The 29 year-old is famous for her roles in Channel 4 comedy Fresh Meat, and the under-appreciated BBC comedy Hebburn.
The real-time drama boasts a stellar cast which includes Lennie James (The Walking Dead), Claire Skinner (Outnumbered) and fellow Welsh actress, Mali Harries from Y Gwyll/Hinterland.
The Hunky Dory star spoke about her new role – as Doctor Angharad “Harry” Bennett-Edwardes in Critical. We have also added x5 episode stills of Kim to the gallery …
How would you characterise your time on Critical?
It’s been amazing. This job has been like no other. It’s been intense, but so enjoyable. You feel like you have to perform at the top of your game all the time and live up to this incredible set.
The other day we shot a scene that was 23 minutes long. Ten people were all running round the operating theatre being ridiculously busy. By the end of it, you felt like you’d run a marathon. It’s been a huge challenge, but a wonderful experience.
How would you describe your character?
Harry is very book-smart. She really knows her stuff and is top of the class. But when she starts working in the hospital, she suddenly finds that things in real life aren’t as clear they were in books. Glen and Fiona are her mentors.
They are great teachers, and she doesn’t want to let them down. From them she learns that things aren’t always clear-cut or black-and-white.
She realises she has to stick by her decisions and stand up for herself. She makes mistakes, but they turn her into a better doctor.
We joked that by season 15, Harry will be a completely hardened trauma surgeon!
What sort of mistakes does Harry make?
All the surgeons hit on her, and she’s very wide-eyed. But she has to learn not to get involved with anyone at work. She gets involved with a colleague, and they bring their personal life into the trauma unit, which you just can’t do.
When you’re literally holding someone’s heart in your hand, you can’t be giving your boyfriend daggers for something he did earlier.
So they don’t handle it very well, but she learns from it.
Is Harry our way in to this world?
Yes. The audience follow Harry a lot of the time because she’s new and, like the viewers, has been thrust into this environment without knowing very much about it.
She’s a good doctor, but the pace of the work doesn’t allow her time to think.
Everybody’s running around, but she’s scared to make decisions because you could kill someone if you get it wrong. But the viewers are with her all the way because she doesn’t know what’s going on, and they don’t, either!
Some of the scenes in the operating theatre are pretty full-on. Did they ever make you feel queasy?
No, I’m not at all squeamish. My character ends up with her hands inside people’s bodies. I’m a tomboy, and I love blood and guts! Also the prosthetics are amazing, they really help you get into a scene.
The hardest thing is that you have to learn how to do several things at the same time, like talk to a patient while opening a packet of syringes without looking. It makes me really admire what real doctors do.
Why do you think that using the real-time format makes such an impact?
Because it’s so intense. Nothing gets left out. You see the patient come in, and you find out all their problems at the same time as the medical staff do.
Then you watch the doctors make decisions about how to try to save their lives.
You see every single part of the procedure right to the very end of the golden hour.
So all in all, has it been a positive experience?
Definitely. I’ve had the most brilliant time with this wonderful group of actors, and I’ve learned so much about what it takes to be a doctor.
If the acting all goes wrong, I think I’ll go to medical school!