Daily Record December 2000

CHRISTMAS promises to be a worrying time for Peak Practice fans when they find out their clean cut heart-throb Sam Morgan is to blame for a terrifying car crash which cripples his girlfriend and leaves another young family facing a shocking death.

A three-vehicle pile up involving Dr Morgan, played by Joseph Millson, and Beeches physiotherapist Kerri Davidson (Susannah Corbett) leaves Kerri motionless in hospital with an anxious Sam waiting by her side.

Fortunately, Sam suffers nothing more than some bruising and a cut above his eye but he fears the worst when Kerri's legs fail to respond to medical attention.

"Sam is completely wretched after the crash because he feels doubly guilty. Not only has he kept a vital family secret from Kerri since the start of the current series, but the crash was his fault because he took his eyes off the road as they were arguing at the time," says Joseph.

"He hits an oncoming Land Rover head on and there's another car behind with a family, who have been featured earlier in the episode, which careers into a telegraph pole and makes the vehicle live so no one can get in and help them. There are sparks everywhere and the terrified family fear for their lives.

"Kerri is conscious but will she be able to walk again? I'm okay apart from a small cut and being a bit shaken. Will (Preston) and Alex (Redman) come to the rescue before dragging us all off to hospital.

"The only good thing as far as Sam is concerned is that the accident finally writes off the Land Rover which he's been driving for 40 episodes."

The chilling cliffhanger comes at the end of a dramatic series which has seen the departure of Andrew Attwood (Gary Mavers) and the return of the equally popular Simon Shepherd as Preston.

Although stuntmen were used to film the action sequence, Joseph, 26, did get a terrifying glimpse of what it's like to hit a vehicle head on.

"For filming I had to drive straight at the other Land Rover and just miss it," he said.

"Even though I was driving at just 10mph, it's frightening when you're going straight at another car. Of course the viewers will see the sequence speeded up."

The crash scene brought back memories of Joseph's own dice with death when the car he was travelling in with his father skidded on some ice and rolled over.

"I was only 12 at the time and it was pretty frightening," he says. "It was very cold and snowy at night and Dad lost control of the car on a quiet country lane in Berkshire.

"Suddenly the car was up on its side and we had to kick a window in to get out.

"We were really lucky because we were both okay. We had no cuts or bruises, but were a little shaken. We were about a mile and half from home and I remember we both had the most uncontrollable hysterics walking home. We were just like little children laughing for no reason - it must have been the shock.

"I'm lucky I haven't had another car accident since but even the thought of one is just hideous. When you have to break suddenly on the motorway to avoid getting caught up in an accident in front of you the fear that goes through you is unbelievable. I just hope it never happens to me."

Away from the grisly subject of motorway crashes, Joseph's eyes light up when he discusses his 20-month marriage to actress Caroline Fitzgerald, 30, a marriage which has had to put up with more than its fair share of absence and separation.

The couple have a flat in Kentish Town, North London.

"Because we've both been so busy and I'm sometimes working on Peak Practice for up to six days a week, the most time we've ever spent together consecutively in 20 months is three days," he says. "But being apart so much actually works as a positive thing because you make the most of the time together.

"Children are on the cards although I think I'm slightly more keen than Caroline. Not that she's against them it's just that I'm the broody one - in fact I've been broody since I was about 16.

"I've always wanted children, I'm just a sucker for the little darlings. So if a happy accident befell us, well I'd be chuffed to bits. Then again, we're probably at least a year away from having children if we're lucky enough to be able to have them."

Apart from his broodiness, another thing Caroline has to put up with is the constant attention of Joseph's army of female fans although he is quick to laugh off the hunk image he's earned since his tall, dark good looks first appeared on Peak Practice more than two years ago.

"The hunk bit makes me laugh," he says. "Of course I'm flattered but it's all a bit of a giggle really.

"There was one time at Sainsburys which was a bit bizarre when it took me about an hour to get out of the shop - the staff wouldn't let me go until I'd signed dozens of autographs.

"But I haven't had the attention to the extent that it's really changed my life. I never had any big ambitions when I was starting out as an actor so the higher public profile and money has been like an unexpected lottery win.

"In fact it was nice the other day when someone used my real name Joe rather than Sam because it's never happened before, people usually just call me Sam."

Joseph's looks have earned him a few modelling jobs although, as he admits, it's not something he particularly enjoys.

"I'm not very good at it," he laughs. "In fact it makes me feel very uncomfortable.

"I did some when I was at drama school to make some money.

"I did one catwalk job and a couple of photographic jobs. I once earned pounds 50 modelling some baggy hip hop clothing in a nightclub.

"It was really embarrassing especially when one bloke saw his girlfriend looking at me and threatened to beat me up.

"No I don't think modelling's for me, I'd have to give up eating ice-cream for a start."