Eoin Macken is best known to UK TV fans for his role as Sir Gwaine in the hit BBC cult series Merlin.
He’s now switched sword swishing and wizardry for the drama and tension of hospital wards, playing the irascible but brilliant Dr TC Callaghan for four seasons.
Ahead of the new season airing in the UK, BT.com caught up with Eoin to find out why viewers need to catch up on the red hot new series.
Why do people love medical dramas so much? Usually people run a mile from hospitals.
You’re right. The last place you normally want to be is a hospital! But there is so much drama in a hospital and there is so much pathos, it draws you in. Also, everyone has been in a hospital at some point, so it has that hook. I also think our show brings some dark comedy which makes it stand out from other medical dramas.
Was the humour an important part of the show for you?
It really was. When I saw the script that was what really appealed to me. No matter what the negative situation is in life, I like to laugh about it in some way, otherwise what’s the point. So the humour was really important to me. I also think the humour really makes the heavier moments more dramatic and gives them more weight.
The long-running relationship between TC and Dr Jordan really has viewers hooked. Why do you think people love the duo so much?
It’s a lot more complex than most relationships on screen. I think that’s why people like it. When you are having a relationship on screen it’s really how you connect with someone and we get on really well. It just really works for us.
It also works because as actors we’re not sure where they’re going - there’s no suggestion that they’ll get together at the end and there’s so much in their past and history together. That makes their relationship very interesting. It’s not just about whether they like each other enough or if they can get over some crap circumstance.
There is so much depth and history and the extra factor of crazy things going on in the night shift. It makes it far more complex. There’s far more to it than, ‘will they get together and have sex?’.
How much research did you do into post-traumatic stress disorder for the role?
I read a lot of books. I watched a lot of documentaries. I spoke to quite a few military guys, who I’ve become good friends with. The main thing I gathered is that everyone has very different experiences of it. One of the things we were very careful about was the approach to covering it - we wanted to cover it properly. It’s a really serious topic and it hasn’t had the coverage it probably deserves, so it was important we treated it with respect.
The show touches on the financial problems of the medical industry. Do you think viewers connect with that?
It is very difficult for people to work under these circumstances saving people’s lives and we don’t really think about the bureaucracy of it. I think it’s very important to bring it up in the show because it’s something that needs to be faced up to, because it is adding an extra layer of difficulty to the medical profession.
Merlin still has a huge passionate fanbase even though the show has ended. How special is that show to you.
The Merlin fans have been so good to me and I hope I’ve been good back to them. They are really loyal and a great set of people. I really mean that. They helped support an indie film I was making and have really supported me. Some of these guys are incredibly talented in their own rights and they all adored this show and in many ways they became bigger than the show. Suddenly it was more than an hour on TV, there was a whole community
The Night Shift returns on Wednesdays at 9pm on Sony Channel (BT TV channel 331) from September 7th and will also be available on catch-up on the BT Player.
Sony TV is one of the extra entertainment channels available for BT TV customers.