Hearts of Gold - Cast Interview with Jeremy Sheffield
As one of the most effortlessly charming men one
could hope to meet, Jeremy Sheffield is struggling
with the idea that his character, Dr Andrew John,
could be that most-mocked of British men, the cad.
"He is an interesting character, quite enigmatic,"
says Jeremy. "He is really ahead of his time and
thinks in a liberal way. In a way, it’s quite difficult to
play him because he could easily come across as a
cad.And I hope that he doesn’t, because he is
forced into some of the situations where that could
be levelled against him."
This is Jeremy’s third medical role.The actor first
played a medic inThe Governor and went on to play
surgeon Dr Alex Adams inHolby City.As Dr
Andrew John, serving a poor mining community, he
abandons modern medical practices for a pre-NHS
era in which matron ruled the roost and nurses
weren’t allowed to be married.
"I think Dr Alex [Holby City] would have found
working conditions excessively formal and naïve at
The Graig," he says. "Alex finds Holby practices too
hierarchical and struggles with the formality of
being a heart surgeon; he certainly would have
found the regime a problem. But that formality is
what Andrew knows. He only questions it because
"Andrew comes from an educated, conservative
background and doesn’t fit the mould. His struggle,
like Bethan’s, is between what is predestined –
what’s expected of him by his social class and his
family – and what his open mind and liberal
thinking make him actually feel.
"Both Bethan and Andrew are really modern
characters in their thinking and sensibilities.Andrew
meets this girl who eclipses most people of his
world, who challenges him intellectually and
emotionally. First of all, she is attractive, but he has
had many attractive liaisons before.What singles
her out from the crowd is that she has a certain
strength that challenges him, and this is what he
falls in love with.
"Then his problem is whether he is able, despite
all the social restrictions forced upon him, to
continue with this romance and take it all the way.
And, under huge amounts of pressure, he comes
to consider that it’s not possible. But, after all, it
is a romance…"
The class system underpinningHearts Of Gold is not
something Jeremy is comfortable with.
"I’m quite aware of the class system in England and
especially when you put it in the perspective of
living in America, which has a system of its own but
it is nowhere near as strong," he says. "Love across
class boundaries is a classic subject – this is really a
retelling ofRomeo And Juliet. But I think it has a
constant appeal because class is still there, people
recognise it. It’s clearer in this period because the
lines are so starkly drawn but it still has echoes in
However, Jeremy was quite at home in the less
modern surroundings of the Thirties.
"The clothes were incredible and I had to learn
how to drive this double-declutch car, which is
quite an art," he says. "It’s an interesting period, the
Thirties, and we had long conversations about
Andrew’s behaviour and speech.When we were
filming – with all these extraordinary costumes and
old cars and sets – it was a bit like watchingThe
British Empire In Colour. I like to feel in touch with
the physicality of a character, so I studied old
photos and listened to tapes of medicinal practices
of that period to make it look truthful and honest."
And, when Jeremy found he could make his own
period photos using his newly acquired digital
camera and shooting the cast and sets in the sepia
mode, he was delighted.
"It is extraordinary to see how accurate these
costumes and sets are," he says. "My photos look
like they were taken years and years ago.You really
feel you are stepping back in time."