What drew you to this project?
They let me do it! The scripts were good and I think the fact that it's based on Porters is new because whenever there's a show in a hospital it's always focusing on the Doctors and Nurses. People who make these kinds of shows are a bit like my character Simon, in a sense, because they only think about the Doctors, they don't think about the other people in the hospital who are also doing the heavy lifting.
Does it feel like the Downton Abbey of the medical world?
Yeah, upstairs/downstairs, totally! It's literally split like that. We're actually filming the show in a real hospital and all the Porters' scenes are downstairs and all the doctor scenes are upstairs. So it's definitely that upstairs/downstairs divide. I didn't realise it was happening until the second week of filming. Every time it was one of our scenes with all the Porters we had to trek down into the dungeon of the hospital, and then, when we film with the doctors, we're back upstairs and everything looks bright and airy.
What's Simon like?
Simon's a bit of an idiot. Essentially, the reason I was cast for this role is because Simon is me! It's just he's a Porter instead of a failed actor! His heart's trying to be in the right place but that's what he's struggling with. He has aspirations above his station, he thinks he can go somewhere he can't, he thinks he can become a Doctor. I think the idea of the show is that you don't have to go to where you think you need to be if, where you are right now, is good enough.
When it comes to his dream of being a doctor one day, is he deluded?
Oh, totally. It takes loads of work to become a doctor and he's not willing to put any of the effort in. He sees how good it is to be a doctor, like when you see them running down the corridor almost in Baywatch-style slow motion, that's the bit he wants. It's like when people say they want to be an actor because they see them on red carpets, but they don't actually want to learn the craft. Simon doesn't want to save people's lives, it's got nothing to do with being nice to other people, he just thinks it would be good to have that status. Also, he's squeamish when it comes to blood so none of the surgery stuff is interesting to him, he just wants the bit where girls swoon when they find out he's a doctor.
Has it given you a greater respect for what porters in hospitals actually do?
Totally, I mean in every scene we film we're doing something different, from taking a dead body to the morgue or delivering the post. That's what real porters do, they are some of the hardest working staff in the hospital yet get none of the credit. They work so hard.
Simon's got a major crush on Lucy, a nurse. What does he like about her?
I think the attraction is completely physical at first, she's a beautiful woman. I think part of it as well is how she reacts to other doctors, she's obsessed with them. He's seen what she likes so now he wants to be like that in the hope she'll like him, if that makes sense.
He seems to be willing to do anything to impress her, including giving up a kidney for one of her patients...
Yeah, that's a mistake. Nothing's going through his mind, that's the issue. He's thinking with something else! He assumes it's never going to happen. He thinks that when you say you're going to do something, you rarely end up doing it. He gets all of the gratification for saying he's going to do something but never actually intends on doing it.
Is there a lot of camaraderie between the porters backstage?
Yeah, it's been amazing. They are all so nice.
There must have been lots of corpsing on set...?
On the first day Susan spat tea all over me. It was the first scene of the first day. I think she was surprised at how funny I actually am! Anyway, she spat tea all over me and we had to get new props and mop up my clothes. The whole shoot has been really fun.
What's it been like working with Rutger Hauer?
It's so weird because whenever you say Rutger Hauer, everyone goes, 'Blade Runner? Blade Runner is a porter?' So that's insane. The read through was weird because he was quite nervous. He'd just flown in and this is his first comedy, so he felt like he was out of his depth to start with.
Have you had any funny moments with him?
I was tied to a bed for a scene and Rutger farted in my face. That was a highlight! I was in the bed and in the scene he has to keep standing up and down. He stood up and was like, 'I've just farted in your face'. I was like, 'Yes, I am aware of that'. That's my chat show sofa story right there, Rutger Hauer farted in my face.
Kelsey Grammer guest stars in the series, what was that like?
It was totally insane. He's such a nice guy and so amazing to work with. What's weird is we shot a lot of his stuff and then he had to leave so there are a few pick up shots where I had to act opposite a man in a beard and wig playing his part.
Would you like to come back and film more Porters?
Yeah it would be great. We've had so much fun of course we would want to do more. Any time you get to spend with smart, funny people, you should embrace that.