Leslie Ash thought her career was over before Casualty return

Vanessa Lytton will be admitted to the Casualty ED tonight as Leslie Ash reprises the role after eleven years.

Vanessa made her arrival to Casualty’s sister show Holby City back in 2009 as the hospital’s CEO.

During her time in Holby, Vanessa built up a reputation as one of the worst CEOs in the hospital’s history, and left things in a bit of a mess when she departed in 2010.

Now though, things are different as instead of working at the hospital, Vanessa returns as a patient.

Coming into the hospital after a fall, there’s a lot of mystery to Vanessa’s new life as suspicions start to rise about whether Vanessa and her husband are in a healthy relationship.

As Rash (Neet Mohan) and Tina (Adele James) treat Vanessa, we learn a great deal about what things have been like for her since she left the hospital.

Ahead of these scenes, Leslie Ash spoke to Metro.co.uk and other press recently where she revealed what it was like to return to the role of Vanessa Lytton, adding how she thought her career was over until a few months ago:

‘I was getting into a stage where I was thinking “maybe this was it?”, “maybe this is the time to retire?” and then I got a call from my agent with an offer to do Casualty! They said they’re really interested in bringing the character of Vanessa Lytton back and I thought “wow that’s really interesting” she was such an interesting character.

She came into Holby ten years ago and caused a lot of problems and left them all in it! I was really interested to see how they were going to bring her back for this one episode’.

‘It was difficult to remember, to be honest’, Leslie added when discussing what it was like to actually step into Vanessa’s shoes again.

‘I haven’t really got anything on tape, all I can remember is that it was during 2010, it was only a few years after I came out of hospital and only a few years after recovery. It was a long-winded process getting back up on my feet again and getting back on the horse as it were and working out the dynamics with the stick too. It worked with Vanessa, no-one asked any questions, and no one asked why she walked around with the stick. I had to remember how nasty she was, and I played her quite cold, it took a while!

Even when I got the script there was no real guide to how the character was. She certainly claims to be a better person in the episode so I was quite lucky that I could manipulate the character into a nicer person.’

‘When I was reading the script, I thought “this is going to need a lot of emotion”’, Leslie explained.

‘There’s a lot of crying and every emotion in this one episode. Also, it was with an actor playing a husband which was new for Vanessa. A few real lovely touching moments, trying to do them with the social distancing was difficult but challenging!’

Following the news about Holby City’s cancellation, we also asked Leslie her thoughts on the medical drama coming to an end after twenty-three years:

‘I didn’t see it coming at all. It is a shame, and I am sure a lot of people are devastated. Casualty will run on though and it will maybe give way to something new coming in. I hope we aren’t moving away from soaps’.

From being a part of Holby to now featuring in Casualty, Leslie did nothing but praise the team behind each show:

‘That’s the one thing being in a long-running series. You get the script the night before, you get very little time to learn the lines, I have nothing but respect for the cast! So many technical and medical things to learn, it was great, they’re all over it. They’re really lovely, it’s like Holby City, everyone knows what they’re doing and you just go in and do it.’

Ten years away means an awful lot has happened to Vanessa since we last saw her, and Leslie had a lot to say about the positives of bringing back a face from the past:

‘I knew this backstory for Vanessa, whereas a lot of actors need to make up backstories for their characters. I understood how she left the hospital, probably never ever being able to work in the industry again and how she would pick up the pieces, meet this guy, and she became a nicer person through him. It became believable she wasn’t so selfish, and she could fall in love’.

As Casualty nears the end of it’s current series, episodes will air soon that will celebrate an incredible thirty five years of the medical drama.

Concluding our chat with Leslie, she told us what it was like to play a part in the lead up to the 35th anniversary:

‘It makes you feel very old! But it’s amazing really that a show can go on for that long. With Derek, he has been there from the start, and I think he is probably the longest-serving actor in any show ever!

It just goes to show that people know it and love it’.

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