Strictly Come Dancing favourite Joe McFadden was sensationally killed off in Holby City tonight, after he secretly quit the BBC drama two months ago.
In shocking scenes, his surgeon character Raff di Lucca was gunned down by the son of his boss Henrik Hanssen, who went on the rampage in the hospital suffering from severe mental health issues.
His departure after four years playing the general surgeon means that Joe, 42, has not been on set at Holby for almost the entire time he’s been competing on Strictly - and has even lied about it in interviews.
Speaking about his departure, the actor said he hoped to avoid a backlash as viewers realise he hadn’t been juggling a hectic filming schedule with his intensive dance training.Read More
- Holby City spoiler: As a character clings to life in heart stopping episode - who will be killed off?
“We filmed the last scenes a couple of months back,” he admitted.
“It has been hard, especially because I’ve been doing lots of interviews, so I hope they don’t I’ve been dishonest but I wasn’t allowed to talk about it because they didn’t want to lessen the impact.”
He and professional partner Katya Jones have been free to train all day since early on in the competition.
“It couldn’t have worked out better. I wasn’t run too ragged,” he laughed.
“It’s been really great because it means that I’ve been able to concentrate on Strictly and my dancing. It’s all worked out for the best.”
The actor – one of the favourites to life the Strictly glitterball next weekend - said he chose to leave because he wants to get back into live theatre.
He said: “Holby’s a great show to be part of but I really miss being on stage live, I really want to be up there, getting that buzz.
"I’d love to do musicals and hopefully this will perhaps open those kind of doors. It’s been four years since I’ve done a play or been on stage so Strictly has certainly given me a hunger.”
And he had no qualms about Raff being killed off. “It’s certainly a dramatic way to go, hopefully it will cause repercussions.
"It’s easy on a great show like Holby to get too comfortable and never leave – but it’s good to challenge yourself, that’s what life is all about after all.”
He added: “It’s nice to go out while he’s still a popular character and people are responding well to him - rather that than getting forgotten about and then having to leave.
"They only kill the characters that they think the audience are going to care about so in a way it’s a strange kind of compliment.”
In Holby his character was gunned down during an attack on the hospital by Hanssen’s deranged son Fredrik, a former doctor who lost his job and holds his dad responsible for ruining his career.
Others who were also gunned down include fellow surgeon Jac Naylor and registrar Ollie Valentine.
Viewers watched in horror as it emerged, in the closing moments of tonight’s episode, that Raff had died in a lift after being shot, with no one knowing he was there.
In the tearjerking final moments, his character’s voice was heard leaving a heartfelt phone message to his nurse wife Essie, played by Kaye Wragg, as he realises he’s not going to survive.
Actor Joe admits that quitting was a huge wrench. “It hasn’t hit me yet but when I watch my last scenes it might hit me like a ton of bricks.”
This weekend he will perform two dances in the Strictly semi-final.
He said: “I’m just as surprised as everyone else that I’m still here. I absolutely did not expect to still be here – but it’s a brilliant surprise that I am. The more you do the more you want to do.”
Paying tribute to partner Katya, he added: “She really does work me hard but it’s great. She doesn’t spend time complimenting you or pussyfooting around.
“She’s very direct and to the point - it’s been the perfect partnership. If people find us entertaining and have enjoyed the dances then that’s all down to her.”