Recommended second chance
Casualty ends its current series with two episodes about a riot and its devastating consequences. Michael Obiora, who plays Lloyd, tells TVChoice more about the storyline, which inevitably brings back memories of the riots that hit Britain last year.
Given the similarities to real-life events in 2011, is it brave for Casualty to tackle a story like this?
I think it is brave, but we’re going to have to prepare ourselves for criticism. But at the end of the day, television or entertainment, or anything in the media is a catalyst for debate. And I think that’s what this is going to be — a catalyst for debate. I have got a problem with sensationalising things that affected people in a negative way. I find it hard to strike the balance, because at the end of the day I’m an actor not an activist. My job is to be a vessel for a story. But this isn’t sensationalising it [last year’s riots].
The drama sees events through the eyes of the police, a shop keeper and the rioters themselves doesn't it?
Yes, I think it has quite an unbiased view of what happened. And I think that’s important. I think content is important, but intent is important too. What are the intentions for a story? What are you trying to highlight? People are going to say, ‘What are your motives?’ But I do think the writers have done a good job. And the actors have done a good job. It’s a risk, but I think it will peak people’s interest — and I guess that’s what TV is about.
What do you think about Lloyd’s reaction to the riot? He’s concerned for his mother, sister and girlfriend, isn’t he?
That’s when I went home and screamed at the top of my lungs, ‘I love playing Lloyd.’ I just thought, it’s a great journey. It’s the end of his first year in Casualty. It’s quite interesting, because he’s caught in the middle. First and foremost, he’s protecting his loved ones. But you also see his professional side. His natural instinct is to want to help people, and of course, without giving too much away, it affects his relationship as well. I think Lloyd goes on a really interesting journey, but it will be one he’ll struggle to recover from.
Lloyd's mother tries to stop looters by telling them off. What do you make of that encounter?
Yes, it’s very interesting that particular part because it reminds me of certain situations growing up. My mum is similar to that personality and I think with that generation of women, there’s that whole respect thing. Unfortunately, a lot of people of a younger generation laugh in the face of that so-called tradition. At the same time, people of her generation almost have a kind of immunity. Her telling off the rioters would have more of an effect than Lloyd telling them off.
What was it like filming the riot?
It was amazing filming it. An actual real riot van went past and enquired as to what was going on while we were filming. I think someone had called the police, because some of the stuff was going on in broad daylight. But it was also strange seeing the supporting artists playing the riot police and seeing the imposing gear they had. And then you go, ‘Actually, there’s a human being behind all that armour, a human being who can get hurt!’ I really did empathise with everyone involved in our riot storyline, and that’s what I liked about it. I hope that viewers come away with the same thing.
BBC1 Saturday & Sunday