Hello Magazine Jan 2001
With his character about to leave Peak Practice in a shocking storyline JOSEPH MILLSON spends precious time in Paris with his singer wife Caroline before setting off on a theatre tour. For the past two years actor Joseph Millson has been known to Peak Practice fans as the hunky Dr Sam Morgan. But his female admirers have got a surprise in store, because he will be leaving the show this series, with a shocking storyline involving theft and embezzlement that will shatter his nice-guy image.
Joseph, 26, is married to actress and opera singer Caroline Fitzgerald, 30, whom he met in 1997 when they worked together on the stage production of Salad Days. Just as Joseph finished filming Peak Practice late last year, Caroline landed a role in John Adams' opera El Nino, which was being performed at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris. So Joseph was delighted to spend his first few weeks off work playing househusband to Caroline in their Parisian apartment.
Joseph, why is Paris such a special city for you?
"Three years ago, almost to the day, Caroline was working in Paris and I came out to visit her. Very late one night we decided to visit the top of the Eiffel Tower. It was freezing cold and we were the only people mad enough to be up there, apart from one Japanese tourist. "I'd thought about asking her to marry me several times in the six months that I'd known her, but I'd always swallow my words at the last minute. This time, before I knew it, I said 'Marry me.' But she didn't hear me properly, so I had to say it again! "Afterwards we asked the Japanese man to take our photograph, but all that came out was a tuft of my hair and the night sky of Paris. It didn't matter, though, was because the main thing was that Caroline said yes!"
Caroline: "Both times that I've been working in Paris Joseph has been able to stay for a while. So, instead of us being apart because of work, we have been together in our own little world. To me, Paris means Joseph and I being together and being romantic."
What are your favourite places in Paris, Joseph?
"Caroline has been living in an apartment in the Bastille, which is a wonderfully exciting, lively area, a bit like Camden in London. And, of course, the Eiffel Tower will always have special meaning for us."
How did you two first meet?
C: "We were playing opposite each other in Ned Sherrin's production of Salad Days and we had to do a lot of stupid dancing, which made us laugh a lot. Joseph and I were spending loads of time together but I never thought anything of it, we just got on well. I did notice a lot of people in the production were throwing themselves at him - let's face it, he's a very good-looking man! - but he didn't seem interested in becoming an item with anyone. So I was amazed when we found ourselves together as a couple."
Joseph: "I followed Caroline around like a puppy dog the whole time. I finally realised that we were having lunch together, tea breaks and even dinner. Suddenly I realised that she must be getting sick of me. When she told me she wasn't I was delighted."
Joseph, you proposed to Caroline after just six months. Did friends and family worry that you were moving too quickly?
"I think they were a little surprised, but mostly delighted. I know that Caroline's mother was worried we would be impecunious actors for the rest of our days, but then I landed the Peak Practice job."
Caroline, tell us about your wedding in May 1999
"It was a beautiful, typically English wedding. I got married in my parents' village in Berkshire and my stepfather is the local vicar, so he did the service. We held the reception in their garden with the marquee and everything. I made a speech and sang Joseph a song. We kept the whole thing quite quiet, only inviting close friends and family. It was our day."
The role of Dr Morgan was a great break for you, Joseph, but it also meant you and Caroline saw very little of each other. . .
"Compared to most couples that's true. For large parts of 1999 and 2000 I was filming virtually all the time and at one point Caroline was touring with a stage company, so that made things even more complicated. But we always saw each other on a Sunday - I would go and find her, wherever she was, or she would come and visit me. "It was quite tough, because we hadn't been married for very long and we did miss each other badly. But, on the up side, absence does make the heart grow fonder and when we were together we really did cherish our time."
C: "Meeting up together after a week apart was lovely, but I really didn't enjoy being separated from Joseph. We always seemed to be racing up and down motorways and juggling dates in the diary. On a deeper level, I don't believe that your relationship can grow unless you spend a good amount of time together. When my job in Paris comes to an end we are going to go home to our flat in London and not answer the phone to anyone for a couple of weeks, if not longer."
What do you and Joseph plan to do with all your spare time?
"We bought our two-bedroom flat 18 months but so far we haven't found the time to do any work on it - and boy does it need it! So we'll be spending much of January going to DIY shops and arguing over the colour of paint. That's the theory, anyway - whether we actually get round to doing any decorating remains to be seen."
What is your next job, Joseph?
"I've landed a lovely theatre job with a company called Shared Experience and I start work in February. We are doing The Mill On The Floss, touring the UK, then doing a West End run. After that we are going to America, then to China, which will be an amazing experience. Caroline will be coming out to visit me there for our third wedding anniversary. I'm actually extremely nervous about doing theatre again, because acting on TV is completely different. I hope I'm up to it! And if all goes plan, I should be doing a TV show by the end of the year."
Does it feel strange to have left Peak Practice?
"I was very sad to leave the people there and I will miss the beautiful Derbyshire countryside, but I won't miss the job. I was there for two years, during which time I was in five series and 50 episodes, so you can imagine that I felt pretty drained at the end of it. I'm only six years into my career and I feel it is important to take some risks, even if it means being out of work. This may be my last chance to make that decision based on artistic rather than financial criteria. Once you have a family to support your priorities change."
Caroline, is Joseph romantic?
"I think he is. His proposal was pretty romantic and for my last birthday he bought me a red MGF sports car, which he managed to keep hidden from me two months. On the morning of my birthday he took me to the bottom of the garden and said, 'Look, there's one of those cars that you like.' We started peering through the windows, then he said, 'It's open, let's get in.' I was horrified, thinking that the owner was going to come out and accuse us of car theft, but he finally convinced me to climb in and admire the interior. Then Joseph produced the keys. It was a fantastic surprise!"
What is it about your relationship that works so well?
"Well, obviously Caroline is very beautiful and gets more beautiful with each passing year, whereas I am starting to fall apart fast! She is also very bright, quite sensible and level headed and tends to make the right decisions about things, whereas I am more impulsive."
C: "We find each other hugely attractive, which helps! Seriously, though, we have huge similarities. We are both ambitious and prepared to put the effort into our work. We are both looking forward to starting a family in the not-too-distant future. We also both had incredibly loving, secure childhoods, which I think makes us less afraid to give and receive love."
Joseph, when you aren't working, what do you do for relaxation?
J: "I'm a real home bird! I grew up in the middle of the Berkshire countryside, seven miles from the nearest bright lights, so I never got into nightclubbing. I enjoy a good night out as much as the next person, but I prefer to be at home reading a book or watching a film. I know I sound boring. I'm middle-age before my time and I completely admit it!"
C: "He's not that sensible, you know! He still adores skateboarding and he loves kicking a football around in the back garden. Actually he's quite a good footballer, I went to watch him play at a park game and told him he had to score for me - and he did!"
Do you have any long-term plans?
"We hope we will be lucky enough to start a family in the next few years. I really love children and I've been broody since I was about 16. My father, who is dead now, was the best father you could have hoped for. If I turn out to be half the parent he was I shall be happy."
INTERVIEW BY ISLA WHITCROFT, HELLO MAGAZINE