The day I had to saw off a man’s leg; INTERVIEW: Jemma Redgrave

Thought to shake things up a little so we’re having a few new/old interviews posted on the website soon. This is a fav of mine…

STAGING an underground train crash was tough enough for the makers of Victorian medical series Bramwell (ITV, 9pm). But there was one drama that was completely unrehearsed.

The set was invaded by 30 armed men in balaclavas.

Jemma Redgrave, who plays pioneering doctor Eleanor Bramwell, says: “They rushed out of one tunnel and disappeared into the other and totally ignored us. Later we discovered they were security services on a training mission. They didn’t seem the least bit fazed by seeing us. But we were all stunned – to put it mildly.”

The set for the dramatic opening episode of the new series was created at the now disused Aldwych London Underground station.

Equipment had to be manhandled down 165 stairs. But that wasn’t the only difficulty. In the train crash, Eleanor has to operate on a man whose leg has been crushed in a derailment. The problem was how to make the operation look authentic. The answer: a joint of pork.

“I have to say that working with a leg of pork under hot lights in a cramped set for several hours made the scene reek of authenticity,” says Jemma.

“Our producer was never allowed near because he would pass out at the sight of blood. But I relish the operations because I’m not squeamish. I find the medical aspects of the stories fascinating – and you don’t have to worry about motivation when you are sawing through a leg.”

In the new series, Eleanor is involved with a fellow doctor but her father disapproves.

“He thinks the man is a scheming opportunist,” says Jemma, who is married with a two-year-old son, Gabriel. “He thinks she’s a hussy.”

Jemma says it’s too early to say whether her own son will follow in the famous Redgrave acting family footsteps.

“It’s hard to tell what dramatic talent he might have,” she says. “When I was a child, I loved being around the theatre and becoming an actress was the natural thing to do.

“Having the Redgrave name was a problem only in that I didn’t want to let myself or my family down.”

source