Star Magazine Interview July 2003

by Tim Oglethorpe


Did the BBC ruin my dream?

Holby City's Jeremy Sheffield plays a doctor again in new series Hearts of Gold.  But what he really desires is a film career...

Jeremy Sheffield takes four calls on his mobile phone during the first five minutes of our interview.  One from his dad, another from the BBC and two from friends of his.

He's clearly a very popular guy, but you get the impression the call Jeremy's longing for is from a movie producer.

With his involvement in Holby City ending mid-August and the two-part romantic drama Hearts of Gold on TV this week, he's now setting his sights on a film career.

'It's my dream,' he says.  'I was disappointed earlier in the year when the BBC wouldn't release me from my Holby contract to spend four days working on a film.  It was an amazing opportunity and I'm sorry I missed it.'

We suspect another movie offer will come Jeremy's way before long though. At over six feet tall, with chiselled good looks and a washboard stomach - despite his weakness for sponge puddings, cheese and fish and chips - he looks every inch the movie star.

And there's no doubt he's served his time on TV.  The 37-year old will have racked up over 100 hours on Holby by the time his character, surgeon Alex Adams, is written out in the summer, a victim of Parkinson's disease.

'It's definitely time for me to move on,' he says.

Jeremy isn't done with the medical profession, however.  In Hearts of Gold, he plays Andrew John, a dashing doctor in 1930's South Wales.  It's a love story because Andrew falls for nurse Bethan Powell (Kate Jarman), but also a tale of prejudice and snobbery.

'Andrew's family won't accept Bethan because she is working class and there is resistance to Andrew from Bethan's family, too. It's a question of whether their love is strong enough to survive other people's prejudice.'

Jeremy knows something about that from his childhood in Essex.

'I wanted to be a ballet dancer and I took some stick at school - especially after I'd had to perform a scene from West Side Story in front of the school, wearing tights. There were some kids who thought it was really funny to shout out "poofter" and "sissy" at me.  But I was lucky compared to what some people have to put up with.'

Jeremy wasn't put off becoming a ballet dancer.  He was at The Royal Ballet School in London from the age of 10 and it was only a set of injuries that stopped him making a career out of dance.

His TV success has compensated for his disappointment, and won him many fans. 

One writes to him regularly, declaring his undying love. 'This guy really goes to town,' says Jeremy. 'He sends me chocolates, egg cups, letters he's written to councils in Essex suggesting they erect a statue in my honour... he's obviously spent a long time thinking about me.  I should be flattered, but it's a little weird.'

Jeremy receives love letters from both sexes, even though he came out as gay last year.  He's currently unattached and says, 'There's less prejudice in the world than there used to be - although it definitely still exists.  You don't hear the little kids who appear in Holby City being racist any more, but you do still hear them being homophobic.'

Not that Jeremy has had too much time to listen to idle chit-chat.  His last few months on the show have been full-on, as his character Alex comes to terms with his illness.

'I knew that his battle with Parkinson's disease would be his final storyline.  I agreed even though I knew it was going to be very tough.  Alex is in denial and refuses to believe that his condition is going to end his career.  His whole life is his work, so he becomes very distraught.'

Unlike Alex, Jeremy makes sure he has a life beyond work.

'I'm in the process of doing up the flat I own in Miami, Florida, with a view to selling it.  Although if i'm fortunate enough to get some movie work in America, it might be shrewd to hang on to it ...'