Ethan Hardy

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Ethan Hardy
Casualty character
Ethan Hardy.jpg
George Rainsford as Ethan Hardy
First appearance "Bad Timing"
11 January 2014
Portrayed by George Rainsford
spinoff(s) On Call (2015)
Holby City (2016, 2018)
Family Emilie Groome (biological mother)
Matilda Hardy (adoptive mother)
Caleb Knight (brother)
Significant other(s) Honey Wright
Alicia Munroe
Leigh-Anne Carr

Ethan Hardy is a fictional character from the BBC medical drama Casualty, played by actor George Rainsford. He first appeared in the series twenty-eight episode "Bad Timing", broadcast on 11 January 2014. Rainsford's casting was announced alongside Richard Winsor who had been hired to play Ethan's brother Caleb Knight. The pair were described by the show's executive producer Oliver Kent as completely different characters who would change the dynamic on he Casualty. Ethan is a Specialist registrar in emergency medicine and is an excellent medic who had worked hard to achieve his position in the profession. He is characterised as a shy, socially awkward person with a serious and attentive attitude. Throughout his inclusion in the show Ethan has shared an on-screen friendship with like minded Lily Chao (Crystal Yu). He has had romantic stories alongside the character Honey Wright (Chelsee Healey). Writers developed Ethan's relationship with his brother Cal into a sibling rivalry. This has provided both characters with dramatic stories.

The character has played a centric role in a special themed episode titled, "Holby Sin City". In the episode Ethan is depicted trying to solve a murder mystery. In 2015, the show explored a story focusing on Ethan and Cal's family history. The storyline was pitched by Casualty's co-creator Paul Unwin. It features Ethan learning that he is adopted, meeting his biological mother Emilie Groome (Carol Royle) who suffers from Huntington’s disease and later discovering he has inherited the disease. Other stories include Ethan being involved in a mini-bus crash and becoming disillusioned with the NHS system over-working staff. Ethan has generally been well received by critics of the genre. Holly Wade from the Radio Times branded him a loveable character and Robert Hiley from What's on TV branded Ethan a "brilliant character".


The character and Rainsford's casting were announced on 4 September 2013. Richard Winsor was cast to play Ethan's brother Caleb Knight who would also secure employment at Holby City hospital.[1] The audition process was extremely thorough and careful as the show were looking for the right actors to play two brothers who have a testing but loving relationship.[2] The actor auditioned for the role in London and impressed casting directors.[3] Rainsford and Winsor then had a screen test audition together to check their suitability for the sibling relationship Casualty wanted to portray. They were in full costume and make-up acting out scenes. Rainsford believed they shared on-screen chemistry straight away.[2][4] Rainsford began filming on 2 September 2013.[5]

The BBC described Ethan as a "studious witty whizz kid" in comparison to the "pure adrenaline junkie" Cal.[1] The characters were introduced with the intention of having a "big impact" on the emergency department featured in the show. Casualty's executive producer Oliver Kent stated "The arrival of Ethan and Caleb will instantly change the dynamic of the ED. Whilst very different characters, one thing they will have in common is an ability to charm, so expect sparks to fly."[1] The actor found the most daunting thing about joining Casualty to be the style of filming. He recalled a "terrifying" moment he had to deliver the final lines of a fast paced scene as part of his first episode.[4]


Characterisation and sibling rivalry[edit]

Ethan is characterised as a doctor with excellence, extremely attentive, very academic but relatively shy.[6][7] He also has a humorous side to his personality and is prone to making witty comments.[6] In stressful situations Ethan is likely to make jokes. Rainsford has summed the character up as "serious, focused and cautious". Rainsford believes that finding a love interest for the character would be "a slow process" due to his awkward persona.[3] He had to study a lot to pass medical school.[6] This has made him a "very good and hard-working doctor" who is gentle towards his patients and "very thorough". Rainsford told Daniel Kilkelly from Digital Spy that Ethan's "methodical nature" in medicine means that he sometimes overlooks the human aspect of cases.[3]

A writer from BBC Online states that whilst the character "thrives as a doctor" but has often lived his life in the shadow of his brother and fellow specialist registrar Cal. He has provided Ethan with a "lifetime of frustration" and Ethan is always there to sort out Cal's problems.[6] Ethan and Cal share a "complicated family history". They have different personalities with Ethan being the more reserved brother. But Rainsford said that as Ethan's stories played out viewers could see that the character struggled with making connections with colleagues unlike his brother.[4] In addition there is much conflict between the two due to their differences. They also go through dramas because of their family history. But Rainsford believed there was also caring moments for the siblings, adding "I think at heart there's a brotherly love there."[3] The show remained committed to developing their brotherly relationship and repairing it. They move in together to see how they cope living together. Rainsford concluded that there will always be stories that test the relationship but after one year on-screen the two were "getting along much better".[2] In one storyline Ethan is caught up in a mini-bus crash which he survives.[8] Cal is tasked to perform life-saving surgery to save his brother's life.[7]

Rainsford told David Brown (Radio Times) that "he's serious and hardworking, but he’s also somewhat awkward socially. He has this methodical, cautious approach, but he does end up making slightly inappropriate jokes and using self-deprecating humour."[4] Ethan forms a friendship with CT2 Lily Chao (Crystal Yu) and they are quite alike. Rainsford assessed that the two characters relate to each other because of their social difficulties. Ethan views Lily as someone who is similar to himself and as episodes play out the pair develop a bond.[4]

"Holby Sin City"[edit]

Ben Dowell from the Radio Times announced that Casualty were planning three special stand-alone episodes with dark themes.[9] The episode titled "Holby Sin City" was one of these episodes and focused on Ethan as the centric character.[10] The episode features a murder mystery which Ethan takes it upon himself to solve. Rainsford told Sarah Ellis from Inside Soap that the episode is stylised as a "crime thriller" with a "film noir" narrative. It features a different look to normal episodes, darker lighting and "eerie and mysterious-looking" locations. The actor was excited about the episode after writers gave him the scripts. He believed that filming and producing the episode was challenging for all involved. Shooting scenes had to be done fast and a large crane with a rain machine was used to add to the dark theme.[11]

On-screen when a patient Clyde Jackson (Stuart Manning), dies because medics cannot resuscitate due to a DNR order, Ethan becomes suspicious and believes there is something sinister behind it.[11] Another guest character in the episode, Bonnie Curtis (Renee Castle) who was billed as a "femme fatale" catches Ethan's attention as a suspect. A series of flashback sequences play out which reveal that Ethan has treated Bonnie before and they have formed a friendship. It transpires that Bonnie has been the victim of domestic violence and Ethan is her confidant. He believes this could be a motive to kill her violent partner.[11] Interviewed by Victoria Wilson of What's on TV, Rainsford said that Ethan is "quite gushing" about Bonnie and she "makes him act quite differently in that he almost loses himself in this woman, rather publicly in the hospital."[12]

Bonnie realises that Ethan is suspicious of her and wants to get rid of him. Bonnie tells hospital CEO Henrik Hanssen (Guy Henry) that she and Ethan are in a relationship to get him removed from Clyde's case. Rainsford explained that Bonnie had been using Ethan and then drugs him to prevent him from interfering. But "Ethan is a very moral guy, and he wants to make sure justice is done. So he battles the effects of the drug and marches down the police station, wearing a fedora!"[11] The actor told Elaine Reilly from What's on TV that the story helped shape his character into the next phase of development. He added that following Bonnie's deception he develops a mistrust of women; admitting he was eager to explore more relationship stories rather than medical ones.[13]

Relationship with Honey Wright[edit]

The show's producers created a romance story for Ethan and barista Honey Wright (Chelsee Healey). The two are an unlikely couple who appear incompatible but get along well together and share a connection. It is a case of "opposites attract". Healey explained that "they have a natural relationship. Ethan likes her vulnerable side and there's something about him Honey's drawn to too." But Healey was unsure if the two characters would "make a good couple".[14] Ethan goes to a strip club on a night out and is shocked to find Honey working as a pole dancer. Healey told Reilly that her character tries to cover up and pretends to Ethan that she enjoys her job. But in reality Honey is only working there to generate income.[15]

Honey tells Ethan that she likes him but he fails to respond. Rainsford said that his on-screen counterpart's "shyness and fear of failure" let him down.[16] He cannot tell her how he feels despite wanting to. He added that Ethan is genuinely attracted to Honey because she is open about her feelings unlike women he had previously met. Honey has been let down by men in her past. The actor believed she views Ethan as a gentleman who will treat her with respect. He added "the basis of their attraction is that they’re very different, but he’s got a good soul and I think that appeals to her."[16] Ethan decides to use Valentine's Day as an opportunity to tell Honey how he feels. But when he tries she receives a telephone call and Honey has to leave to look after her ill grandmother.[16] After time away, Honey returns to Holby and begins a relationship with Ethan. Honey's father Noel Garcia (Tony Marshall) starts to accept Ethan as a potential future son-in-law. But the pair face problems and both come to the conclusion that their relationship is not working and decide to move on.[17]

Work struggles and friendship with Lily Chao[edit]

"I've played Lily for almost three years now and seen her and Ethan develop so much. Once upon a time she would have liked to be with him, as he understands her, but now she’d rather they were great friends."

Crystal Yu (who plays Lily) on her friendship with Ethan.[18]

Ethan begins to struggle with his work schedule and when a patient is left undiagnosed he decides to resign. He then discovers the patient has been the victim of domestic violence and he was too busy to realise.[19] Rainsford told Reilly that his character is "mortified" he failed to notice signs of domestic abuse. He explained that Ethan is "normally such a meticulous, caring doctor" but he was just too busy.[20] The character feels that guilty; he tries to take on more work despite being so worn out. When a patient arrives at the department with a sprained ankle during a busy shift, Ethan loses his temper. His colleagues step in to defuse the angry situation to prevent him ruining his career.[20] Ethan also has to deal with two upsetting medical cases: One of which Rainsford said it more difficult for his character because he does not have enough time to even help him properly.[21]

Ethan then looks for jobs vacancies in Australia. His friend Lily tries to convince him to stay. Yu told Reilly that Ethan is "overworked and overtired". He blames himself and the hospital for failing patients.[19] He is a "good doctor" who would like to remain at the hospital. The actress added that Ethan has been let down by the system. Lily believes giving up his job would be unproductive in their aims to improve NHS services.[19] As a close friend, Lily is not afraid to be honest and accuses him of running from his problems. Lily then approaches Connie to help her convince Ethan to stay as his departure would effect the emergency department.[19] Ethan later decides to move on from his dissatisfaction with NHS restrictions and remain at the hospital.[22]

Yu added that there was also an element of selfishness" from her character because Ethan is Lily's only friend and she wants him to remain. But there were no longer romantic intentions for Lily as they had gone "beyond romance" and formed a "solid" friendship.[19] She would prefer him to be a lifelong friend rather than risk losing him to a failed romance.[23] When Yu first joined the show she was made to believe that Lily and Ethan would start a relationship, but this never materialised. Producers felt that they did not have romantic chemistry because of the actor's off-set hysterics.[24]

In one storyline Lily bullies her junior colleague Alicia Munroe (Chelsea Halfpenny). Ethan expresses his anger about her treatment of Alicia. But Yu stated that Ethan can understand the situation Lily was placed in and why she bullied Alicia. She is also the type of character who feels she does not need to explain herself and Yu believed Ethan equates to that feeling and knows Lily well.[18]

Adoption and Huntington’s disease[edit]

Casualty producer Erika Hossington lined up a new family related storyline for the character which played out towards the end of 2015. She told Daniel Kilkelly from Digital Spy that "we've been planning this for a year - it's a very in-depth story and it will strike at the heart of their sibling relationship." Casualty's co-creator Paul Unwin pitched the storyline and the production team "loved" the idea.[25] The plot formed Casualty's "big Christmas storyline".[26]

It came at a time Ethan and Cal had repaired their relationship. Cal had stolen Ethan's fifteen-thousand pound inheritance and gave it to his girlfriend Taylor Ashbie (Sarah Jayne Dunn), who turned out to be a con-artist.[27] But Taylor returns with a daughter, Matilda and she claims the baby is Cal's. Winsor said the story is "massive" and affects both brothers "hugely" as they adjust to looking after a baby. He said it provides both "funny and touching" moments alongside "twists and turns that are going to challenge them in dramatic ways." The actor was also pleased with "real gift" that Ethan and Cal had united following their clashes over Taylor.[27]

When Matilda falls ill he has to take a blood test check compatibility. It turns out Matilda is not actually Cal's daughter. Cal later finds inconsistencies between his blood group and his late mother's, which means she was not his biological mother.[28] Winsor told Reilly (What's on TV) that Cal cannot believe he was adopted but the "most devastating part" is the worry he may not be blood-related to Ethan. Cal decides to keep his discovery a secret from Ethan. Winsor defended his character's dishonesty because he does not know how best to tell Ethan, adding "the longer he leaves it, the worse it gets."[28] Cal decides to track down his biological mother with the aim of collecting maximum information about his adoption and Ethan's maternity. Winsor stated "Cal wants to find out if Ethan is his true brother, because they have an important bond."[26] The actor later reflected on the storyline, stating "This story has a real domino affect [sic!], from Taylor, the baby, and now to this revelation about the adoption, and the question ‘are Ethan and Cal brothers?’ It’s beautifully constructed and there’s a lot more to come!"[29]

Producer Oliver Kent later announced that Ethan would discover the adoption secret. He opined that the focus had been on Cal, but it was Ethan's turn "to take centre stage" with "fairly major" ramifications.[30] Ethan discovers that Cal has been lying to him and he is adopted. Ethan is shocked to learn Emilie Groome (Carol Royle) is his mother and that she is suffering from Huntington’s disease which he may have inherited.[31] When Emilie injures herself and Cal dislocates her shoulder looking after her, Ethan is forced to treat her. Ethan has to remain emotionally distant as he treats Emilie. She develops complications from pneumonia and fears she will die in hospital. She makes it clear she wants to die at home but Ethan and Cal argue over Emilie. Her condition deteriorates and they are forced to work together to provide a solution for their dying mother.[32] Ethan and Cal steal an ambulance and take Emilie to the seaside where she can die in peace with them by her side. Ethan and Cal also receive results which reveal which of them is suffering from Huntington’s disease.[33]

The Huntington's disease storyline was researched very thoroughly. The show worked alongside Huntington's Disease Association for advice and support to create the storyline. Royle also carried out much private research including meeting with sufferers. Casualty's researcher Ross Southard said "It has been an extremely rewarding and important storyline for us. We really hope that Emilie’s story and subsequently Cal and Ethan’s story will help to highlight and raise awareness of HD and continue to help those affected by the disease."[34]

Other appearances[edit]

In 2015, Ethan appeared in a special mini-episode of Casualty titled "On Call". It was aired via the interactive feature, the BBC Red Button and also released via the BBC iPlayer. The storyline followed the return of Cal's ex-girlfriend Taylor who arrives and hands over her daughter, Matilda, claiming she is Cal's child.[35]

In 2016, Rainsford appeared as Ethan in Casualty's spin-off series Holby City, in the episodes "I'll Walk You Home" and "Missing You Already".[36][37] He appeared to surprise the character of Arthur Digby (Rob Ostlere) and perform a celebratory dance with fellow characters. Ostlere and Rainsford were long-time friends having attended drama classes together. They had petitioned producers of both shows to enable their character to share a scene together. Their wish was granted in what would be Ostlere's final appearance in Holby City. He also appeared at the characters funeral which aired during the following episode.[36][37]

A trailer teasing the show's summer storylines revealed that Rainsford would appear as Ethan in another episode of Holby City in an upcoming episode.[38] Further trailers rivaled that Ethan would seek help from consultant neurosurgeon professor John Gaskell and Roxanna MacMillan for his Huntington's diagnosis as part of a research project.


Ethan & Cal meeting their biological mother was nominated for "Best Drama Storyline" at the 2016 Inside Soap Awards.[39] In August 2017, Rainsford was longlisted for Best Drama Star at the Inside Soap Awards, while Cal's murder (including its effect on Ethan) was longlisted for Best Drama Storyline.[40] Both nominatios made the viewer-voted shortlist.[41] On 6 November 2017, Rainsford won the "Best Drama Star" accolade.[42] Katie Baillie from the Metro said that "Holby Sin City" was confusing and "it all went a bit bonkers." She also accused Ethan's story in the episode of being nonsensical.[43] Jack Seale of The Guardian opined that the episode was Sin City done a "doggedly small scale" and branded Ethan a "fussy registrar".[44] Robert Hiley from What's on TV branded Ethan "a brilliant character and an amazing doctor" but opined that he appeared to give up on career progression when Lily was promoted before him.[45] Holly Wade from the Radio Times opined "he has lived in the shadow of his brother Cal for a long time and struggles to come out of his shell. He is a loveable character and definitely the type of thorough doctor that you’d want to be in charge of your case."[7]

A What's on TV writer branded the character "disillusioned doctor Ethan".[46] Producer Oliver Kent admitted that his show had focused too much on Ethan, Connie Beauchamp (Amanda Mealing) and Dylan Keogh (William Beck). He added that his team had to remind themselves Casualty was a show about the hospital's nursing staff.[47] Reilly (What's on TV) enjoyed Ethan's "Be More Cal" phase. She said "it’s safe to say with lines like ‘how you doin’?’ in the style of Joey from Friends, he’s going to provide much comedy over the coming episodes."[48] The critic later stated that "the love-hate storylines between Cal and Ethan have captivated fans and are still going strong."[49] After his work struggles, a reporter from The People said "speccy specialist registrar Ethan Hardy (George Rainsford) is back in the groove, charming more patients in the emergency department."[50]


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