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 in The Governor and went on to play

surgeon Dr Alex Adams in Holby 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

of Bethan.

"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 underpinning Hearts 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 of Romeo 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

modern scenarios."

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 watching The

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."