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Filming WIRE IN THE BLOOD was non-stop drama for Emma Handy, when her character becomes a victim of voodoo and falls dangerously ill.
She explains: “Paula is ‘voodooed’ when a suggestion that she cannot breathe is planted in her subconscious. This manifests itself as an asthma attack and she is rushed to hospital, put on steroids and undergoes all sorts of tests. Her state worsens and next of kin are informed which means doctors think she is going to die!
“I had to play her having difficulty breathing and then lie in bed for hours, with ‘almost dead’ make-up, hooked up to all the machines with my face trussed up in a nebuliser. It was very hot! It made me feel slightly removed from the rest of the room and the other people in it. Everyone acts around you and it’s like being in a Perspex cocoon-like cage.”
Emma studied Paula’s symptoms before filming began.
“I do research even if it doesn’t directly help the piece. I find it interesting. I did some research on asthma and what happens to you physically when you have an attack and also when you are being medicated for it. This was essential for me in playing the scenes where I have difficulty breathing. It means you can be more specific in the acting and it will usually be more believable to watch.
“We also had a wonderful senior ICU nurse on set advising us on which parts of my body should be hooked up to the machines for the various stages of the illness. She helped me a great deal with the breathing, too.”
Emma believes black magic can affect people.
“I believe in the power of suggestion as demonstrated by Derren Brown. When you hear of cases like these then there is no question that they affect everyone involved. But I believe black magic and voodoo are an excuse for the expression of sick minds. They can be very dangerous in the wrong hands. When I was a teenager I went out with someone who was into black magic. He was slightly twisted in some ways but of no harm to anyone but himself.”
Adds Emma: “My mother’s family are superstitious so I have grown up learning never to put shoes on the table, never to send red and white flowers or walk under a ladder. Also, if you give something with a blade as a present, then the recipient must give back a coin, and when you remove a piece of stray cotton from someone’s clothes it means they are going to get a contract. I don’t really take it seriously although I do live by all of them!”
Emma was delighted to be back filming the fifth series of WIRE IN THE BLOOD.
“It’s unusual and lovely to begin a job knowing almost everyone you’ll be working with.
We have become a big family unit. The scripts were good and my character had more to do and say than she has before. Having scenes to play rather than just delivering information means you are more involved, with more to get your teeth into. Bring it on!”
The drama has seen the relationships develop between Paula and her colleagues Dr Tony Hill (Robson Green). DI Alex Fielding (Simone Lahbib) and DS Kevin Geoffries (Mark Letheren).
Says Emma: “A strong trust has built up between Paula and Tony from when Tony saved Paula’s life after she was kidnapped in an earlier series. You see it again when she falls victim to voodoo. Having a history to the characters makes the scripts richer.
“Paula is like Alex’s PA. Alex knows she can rely on Paula and Paula has a huge amount of respect for her boss. Alex is very good at delegating, which makes for a great team. Paula also has a great working relationship with Kevin. They have shared many dangerous and difficult times as well as having the same sense of humour, which means they are also good friends.”
A graduate of LAMDA, Emma appeared in the Olivier Award winning play Vincent in Brixton in the Royal National Theatre and the West End. Her other work includes Hear The Silence, William and Mary, The Bill, Black Cab, Velvet Goldmine, Silent Witness and Beneath the Skin.
Posted by ken on July 19, 2007