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IFTN Talks 'The Clinic' With Dominic Mafham
02 Oct 2008 :
Parallel Film’s hit medical series ‘The Clinic’ has returned our screens on Sunday nights. IFTN caught up with British actor Dominic Mafham who plays plastic surgeon Dan Woodhouse about his character storylines and what has made the series a firm hit with Irish audiences.
Having acted with ‘The Clinic’ since 2003, Dominic Mafham is a familiar face to Irish audiences as the womanising plastic surgeon whose rocky relationship with his co practitioner Cathy (Aisling O’Sullivan) has been a central plot line to the series. As their relationship is beginning to level and trust grows, Cathy, pregnant with Dan’s child, is knocked down outside the practice. The first episode of Series Six sees a distraught Dan at Cathy’s bed side willing her back to life.

He has acted in a variety of TV shows, including ITV’s legal series ‘Kingdom’ alongside Stephen Fry, ‘Casualty’, ‘Spooks’ and ‘The Bill’. Although Dominic is based in his native England, he returns back to Dublin each year for the 3-4 month shoot.

IFTN chats with the actor on the upcoming series his relationships with the cast and crew of “The Clinic”, and his most recent role playing a priest.

Dominic, did you think that would be making the 6th series of the Clinic?
I had no idea that it would go to a 5th or even 6th series, or that I would go with it. I knew as did everyone involved in the 1st series, that it was good. I suspected that my character would serve a dramatic function and disappear again, so I was happily surprised that it has carried on for six years.

How do you think your character Dan has developed through the years?
I think that the character is richer and more complicated as he has gone on and has become more three dimensional. I think that when you give something that time to live and breathe, then inevitably with the twists and turns they take, it is going to get richer. I think because of the journey he has gone on there are far more facets to him now than there were.

What’s expected for him in the next series?
Well, we now know that Cathy died, and at the end of the last series he had kind of reached some sort of calm or peace. Clearly now that has been taken away, and old habits die hard. I think all the dark stuff that was there in the previous series, that apparently had been put to bed, has been let out of the bag again. I think his is a quite a dark revenge story really

In this series he gets very dark. I love playing him and I think the whole series has been expertly written and played. I have really enjoyed it, and every year it has been a real surprise where they have taken him. I think he is a very real, interesting and complicated character and it’s also that thing where you don’t have to flag pole everything. You don’t have to be really obvious.

You are based in the UK. How do you find coming over here each year?
It’s pretty solid really. Its four months, so I live over here for the duration of the shooting and I just get stuck in. My life is filming for those months. It has been great working in Ireland over the past few years and I’ve spent a good proportion of my professional life here. I did a series called ‘The Ambassador’ a few years ago and I like all that - working on something that is good. It was a great cast, with a lovely atmosphere on set.

You and the other cast and crew must be a pretty close unit now?
Absolutely. The crew has been pretty much the same for the past six years. There have been a few changes along the way but the core of the crew has been the same and that again is very unusual to have. You have people always changing jobs, new groups of people and ongoing things, so I think ‘The Clinic’ has been quite unusual in that sense. It has certainly been unusual for me that there is such a consistency, so those relationships are better than they would be normally. It is like a family really. Of course what goes with that is that people trust each other. There is spirit of ease, trust and adventurousness, and I think as that grows, it gets better.

Is there any particular scene that comes to mind as either the most challenging or favourite out of the whole series?
I have really loved working with Aisling over the years, and she is a terrific actress. I think some people bring out the best in you andshe certainly did with me. The scene at the end of the last series where she was hit by a car… surprisingly I wasn’t expecting it to be so upsetting, butit really got to me. Even doing the ADR on it, when we had to re-voice a few bits a month later, even that I found upsetting. That really felt like it was the end of something, and that relationship had been so long and complicated. It was like a dance between them that had taken five years to reach that point, and I remember her being knocked over like that at the very end of the shoot, that was very upsetting. There were loads of lovely memories along the way but that was one of the ones that stands out.

Why do you think ‘The Clinic’ has been such a hit with Irish audiences?
I think it is always difficult to know and you can’t second guess what you think people are going to like. I think there is an integrity in it. There is no cynicism in the people who are making it, from the producers, writers, crew and the actors; everybody genuinely wants to make it as good as they can. The other thing is that there is a good cross range of characters in it. There are a lot people there that people can identify in it and the characters are all very intelligent, varied and real. So that would be my guess.

Are there any plans for Series Seven of the Clinic?
Yes, I think there are, but as to what is going to happen, I have absolutely no idea.

Having starred in ‘The Clinic’, ‘Holby City’,’ A&E’ and ‘Casualty’ you must be fairly well versed in the medical field!?
Oh yes! I’m qualified now in all the major disciplines. I’m a good man in an emergency; totally reliable!

What productions are you currently working on?
I did an independent film called ‘Godforsaken’ by a director called Jameel Dalwee, but I have no idea what the after life of that will be.It was a really interesting thing to do. He is a Pakistani film maker and has done lots of political films. He is very well known in Pakistan and an interesting guy. It was a thriller/mystery and the character I played was a priest who has an affair with a fallen angel who then gets mixed up in all sorts of trouble. It is all very dark and good but I have no idea when it will be shown. I am also writing for TV at the moment with Mark Dymond who plays Lorcan in ‘The Clinic’ so that is the kind of thing I have been up to.

The Clinic is on RTÉ One on Sundays at 9.30pm

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