Drama Mercy Street
Josh radnor on starring as a surgeon fighting to save lives in a thrilling american civil War drama
Mercy Street sunday / drama / 8.00pm
Downton Abbey meets Casualty in lavish new US period drama Mercy Street.
Inspired by real people and events, the six-part series, screening on Drama, is set in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1862 at the height of the American Civil War, with the Southern town occupied by Union forces from the North.
It stars Josh Radnor as top army surgeon Jed Foster. He works with new medic Mary Phinney (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and English nurse Anne Hastings (Tara Summers) – who served with pioneer Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War – at a military hospital for injured troops from both sides of the conflict.
Here Josh, 42, tells TV Times what to expect…
why does Jed clash with Mary when she arrives as a volunteer at the hospital? Mary thinks the hospital should treat rebel soldiers only after it has tended to all the Union men. Jed feels that the hospital should treat everyone equally. As he says, ‘Blood is not grey or blue’. He believes there is only one kind of patient – a sick patient.
what drives Jed? He feels that he’s on the brink of breakthroughs, as though he can smell a medical revolution coming and he wants to be at the forefront of it. He has a surgeon’s coldness, but there is this warmth that starts to come through. I think the war humanises him.
what did you find out from your research for the role? That it was laughably easy to become a doctor in those times – you just needed to listen to a few lectures. A big thing back then was medics not washing their hands. Something like threequarters of Civil War deaths were caused by disease and infection.
what were the amputation scenes like to film? We had a great girl in make-up who’s an expert at making disgusting things like gangrene. I’m usually incredibly squeamish, but for some reason I wasn’t during filming. I kept telling myself that the blood wasn’t real, and that the patient’s actual leg was hidden under the table.
MERCY Street is previewed on pages 40-41
What’s up, doc?
Josh radnor and mary elizabeth Winstead as Jed and mary
Good listener: doctor Foster treats a patient