Jeremy Sheffield Interview
TV TIMES MAGAZINE, JULY 2003.
Actor Jeremy Sheffield has got used to women approaching him on the street swooning “oh, doctor, my heart aches”. The Holby City hunk has been making temperatures rise on the medical series for the last three years as Dr Alex Adams, and even though Jeremy is set to quit Holby next month, following his character being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, Jeremy’s lovesick female fans will be relieved to know he’s not hanging up his stethoscope yet.
He’ll be practising his bedside manner as another handsome healer in the new BBC1 period drama ‘Hearts of Gold’. ‘I know, this is the third doctor I’ve played!’ laughs Jeremy, 37. ‘I was also a prison medic in ‘The Governor’. Well, I’m a middle-class guy and their professions tend to be doctors, architects and lawyers.
But a character is not the job they do, and Dr Andrew is different from Alex Adams.’
Unlike Holby, in Hearts of Gold, affairs of the heart don’t involve surgery- the emphasis is firmly on romance rather than medicine in the Thirties-set drama. Jeremy plays suave, educated Dr Andrew John, who moves to Pontypridd in Wales to help at his father’s maternity hospital and workhouse. There he falls for a nurse from the wrong side of town, Bethan Powell, played by newcomer Kate Jarman, but can love overcome a gaping class divide?
‘It’s a lovely, sweet period saga,’ says Jeremy. Andrew’s a modern thinker and his struggle is between what’s expected of him by his social class and his family, and what his liberal thinking makes him feel. He meets this attractive, challenging woman, but he’s under pressure not to pursue her. I hope he doesn’t come across as a cad.’
Although there isn’t much doctoring in Hearts of Gold, Jeremy did have a difficult task in learning to drive Andrew’s car, a vintage Talbot, in which he whisks nurse Bethan away on romantic outings.
‘The car was like driving a tractor!’ moans Jeremy. ‘It was slow and had a complicated gearbox, so I had to re-learn how to drive. I was trying to look relaxed and romantic, but inside I was shouting, “Get into gear, you pig!”
Currently at home in London, Jeremy’s fielding work offers, enjoying lie-ins after the long hours on Holby, and doing a spot of DIY.
He’s just knocked down a wall of his house to build an enormous fish tank. ‘I’ve always kept and bred tropical fish as a hobby,’ he says. ‘I don’t know why. Normally, the moment I start talking about fish, people’s eyes glaze over and they think I’m a train spotter. Maybe I am. I also like wildlife and bird watching. ‘I do like to party, too,’ he adds laughing. ‘Jeremy Edwards [who plays Danny Shaunessey in Holby] and I go out and have fun.’
With Holby and Hearts of Gold turning Jeremy into TV’s most fanciable medic since George Clooney, his coming out to the press as gay, last August, clearly hasn’t diminished his sex appeal.
Why should it?’ asks Jeremy. ‘When people watched ER, they knew George Clooney wasn’t a doctor and that he wasn’t in love with Julianna Margulies [nurse Hathaway]. We have a suspension of disbelief when we watch these kind of things.’
Jeremy says that he came out to clear the air.
‘I was worried at the time that there would be a big fuss, that somehow people would think I’d misled them, but nobody cares because it’s not very relevant or important,’ he says. ‘I just wanted to be honest and clear, and then not bother to speak about it any more. I sincerely hope it doesn’t make a difference.’
And it doesn’t, to judge by Jeremy’s fan mail.
‘I still get thousands of women writing to me,’ he smiles.