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Meet Yorkshire Actor George Rainsford from Call the Midwife and Casualty

Actor George Rainsford Photographs © David J Hogan
What's on
May 2023
Reading time 4 Minutes

Living North catch up with George Rainsford and find out more about his role in Peter James' Wish You Were Dead as the show heads to two of Yorkshire's stages

Best known as Jimmy Wilson in Call the Midwife and Ethan Hardy in Casualty, he's now stepping into DSI Roy Grace's shoes in this new play.

Tell us about your background and growing up in Yorkshire.
I was born in Kirkburton and lived in Holmfirth and other parts of Huddersfield until I was 14. I am definitely a Yorkshireman at heart. My sister lives in Leeds, I’ll be staying with her when we are at the Grand Theatre, and I can’t wait to get back to God’s Own Country.

How did you get into drama?
I was roped into doing a production of Grease when I was 15, playing a pre-pubescent T-Bird. I got lots of laughs, which definitely fed the appetite for live theatre, but in hindsight I suspect it was because I was about a foot shorter than everyone else on stage! Fairly soon after, the big lightbulb moment came when I got a place with the National Youth Theatre, where I got to spend three weeks in London on the enrolment course and met my tribe!

What have been some of your career highlights so far?
When I first moved to London, seeing plays at the National Theatre marked it as a place I would love to eventually work at. Amazingly I got to within my first year of leaving drama school. We did a double bill, ‘Chatroom / Citizenship’ which were these brilliantly vibrant new plays. It’s the job I also met my wife on, and some of my best friends, as well as getting to tour to Hong Kong. I worry I peaked with my best job a bit early on!

How does your work on screen differ to that for on stage?
They are definitely different disciplines. TV filming has many intense, focused moments but is spread out over long days. There often isn’t a sense of completion because you film out of order. With theatre, you get to start and finish the story on one evening – a shared experience with the audience. I love that things can go wrong or change depending on their response. It feels very invigorating to be acting in something live again.

What can you tell me about Wish You We Dead?
Fans of Peter James will know about his seminal character DSI Roy Grace, who solves crimes in Brighton and the Sussex area. What is different with this is that it’s Roy and his wife Cleo on holiday, trying to throw off the shackles of their working lives. But of course crime is never far away and without giving too much away, not all is as it seems at their rundown chateau. It’s a comedy thriller, with lots of surprises.

How do you get into character?
Music is always a good way to focus for the show. Perhaps something a bit melancholic to access the emotional stuff – The National or The Slow Show. Then some ‘90s Britpop or ‘80s power ballads if I’m feeling a bit lethargic!

Were you a fan of Peter James’ work before being cast?
Yes, and subsequently I’ve immersed myself with lots of his work. I really enjoyed the TV adaptation of Grace, especially when we toured Brighton and I got to see first-hand the locations used – Roy’s real-life stomping ground. I am also listening to his latest book on Audible when out running.

How do you hope audiences in Leeds and Sheffield react to the show?
It’s a fun night out and very entertaining. It’s got a bit of everything so hopefully everyone can enjoy it. Some thrills, some laughs, some larger than life characters. Plenty of twists and turns.


Favourite place to walk in Yorkshire?
Denby Dale.

An item you couldn’t live without.
My running watch.

A series or podcast you recommend.
I’ve just finished Colin From Accounts which is on BBC iPlayer. It’s fantastic – an Australian comedy with plenty of heart. The writing and acting is superb.

Advice you’d give your younger self.
Drop your shoulders. Do one thing at a time. And by younger self, I mean myself yesterday!

Advice for budding actors.
Be a nice person to work with. Give your best self at work. Take it seriously, but not yourself.

An actor you haven’t worked with yet but would like to.
Mark Rylance.

Hopes and plans for the future.
To have a holiday with my family. Tour life is fun and varied, but I miss my wife and two boys too.

George Rainsford stars in Peter James’ Wish You Were Dead 3rd–6th May at Leeds Grand Theatre and 27th June–1st July at Sheffield Lyceum Theatre. Book tickets at

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