There are a few surprises in store for this series – preview and review of episode 1…
By Mamie Colfox
SERIES three of the hit ITV show ‘The Good Karma Hospital’ ended on a cliffhanger, with Ruby Walker (Amrita Acharia) left heartbroken after on/off boyfriend Dr Gabriel Varma (James Krishna Floyd) resigned from the hospital, without saying goodbye to her, leaving behind a single goodbye note with a rose.
So, what will happen to Ruby next? During an ITV Zoom press conference, Amrita Acharia discussed what to expect of her character in the next series. Ruby has to adjust to life without Gabriel. During filming, Acharia said it was “interesting exploring Ruby’s floors” as she had never really seen that side to her character, and talks about finding common ground with new doctor on the block Samir (Harki Bhambra): “It was lovely seeing Ruby interact with Samir, as both characters are English”. This series will see Ruby “rediscover what’s important in life” as she comes to terms with her break up – and is there potential for a new love interest in Samir?
Bhambra, Amanda Redman, Neil Morrisey, Nimmi Harasgama, new characters Rebecca Ablack who plays Dr Nikita (Niki) Sharma and Raquel Cassidy as single mum Frankie Martin also took part in the press conference. The series is set in a fictional hospital in the Southwestern state of Kerala in India but shot on location in Sri Lanka, which looks very similar.
Dr Hasan is a high-flying British Asian surgeon from the UK. His reasons for such a drastic life change remain a mystery and are proven to be very traumatic as the series plays out. On receiving the role, Bambra said “When I found out I got the part I was coming off the high of the Euro’s (The UEFA Football Championship last year), I was over the moon about it”. When discussing filming in Sri Lanka in the late summer last year, he said he loved it, especially because being on location for over three months “means you get absorbed in the culture, the customs and food”.
Bhambra is best known for his role as Rab in the TV series ‘Our Girl’, a military drama series about a female army medic in Afghanistan. He appeared as a Survivors’ Support helpline manager Ajay Dewan in ‘Coronation Street‘ in 2020-21, as well as Jaz in series 1-2 of ‘Two Doors Down’ which aired in 2013.
Amanda Redman and Neil Morrissey are to reprise their roles as strong-willed Dr Lydia Fonseca and the free-spirited Greg McConnell, as well as Nimmi Harasgama as chief nurse, Mari Rodriguez.
Speaking to ITV, Redman said: “Lydia has developed in a few ways. She has become less acerbic. She’s still bossy and still opinionated, but I feel that she’s begun to not be too scared of the softer sides of herself.”
Morrissey also spoke in the Zoom about his character’s development. “In this series, there are a few little shocks along the way, where you get to see a different side of Greg again. Without giving much away the first episode shows Greg being arrested and investigated so we start to find out a little bit more about what makes Greg tick.” (For the review of episode 1, please see below)
Of the new series, Harasgama hints that the first episode will see Mari take on extra responsibilty, she added, “although Mari is always suspicious of new people, Dr Samir surprises her with his willingness to take risks”. Harasgama has starred in various episodes of ‘Doctors‘ since 2005, as well as playing a police officer in BBC thriller ‘Requiem’.
Canadian Rebecca Ablack plays a young doctor, Niki Sharma, who is fresh out of medical school. She revealed that her character, “has a really big heart and really cares about people. Although that does get her in trouble because she’s a little bit naive. She won’t settle for anything less than the best and has a tendency to think she knows best.” Ablack starred in 2021 drama ‘Awake’ and 2018 sci-fi ‘Impulse’.
Guest star Raquel Cassidy is the mother of Bobby (Connor Catchpole), who is neurodiverse and has Aspergers. He loves taking photographs of birds, and Frankie is worried about letting him go as he grows older. She said: “Frankie is a very complex character who has a lot going on, it’s a really meaty role. She’s not just Bobby’s mother she’s a woman in her own right and there are a number of aspects of her character that I can identify with. One being her struggle to let someone go that she loves”. Cassidy played Phyllis Baxter in the last three seasons of ‘Downton Abbey’ as well as the feature film of the same name in 2019.
The cast talked about filming during lockdown and lamented that they could not socialise with everyone as in the past. The production team were in their own bubble, as were the actors. But they got to know each other well and formed a group socially.
While coronavirus is not part of this series – creator and writer Dan Sefton, who is a doctor, told journalists that he returned to frontline medicine during the pandemic – the first episode covers an outbreak of nipah – a virus that affected pockets of a forest region in the north of the state in 2018 and is both contagious and can be deadly. Unlike coronavirus, it is not airborne but any form of contact between infected humans or animals can transmit the infection.
Also on the cards is some brouhaha when Lydia’s husband (yes to be explained) turns up – actor Ace Bhatti plays Dr Jules Fonseca – they met at medical college but it wasn’t happy ever after, obviously.
Episode 1/6 broadcasr on Sunday (January 23) at 8pm, ITV.
Beautiful setting but life and death matters intrude… (review)
THERE is something soft about the first episode of the new series of ‘The Good Karma Hospital’. The stunning scenery is enviable, with shots filmed in bars and the surrounding landscape, the perfect setting for Ruby’s (Amrita Acharia) heartbreak, with her solemn demeanour after her break up and Lydia’s (Amanda Redman) surprising advice is reminder that we are only human.
The familiar sandy beaches and swathes of patients flowing steadily throughout the hospital still provides the calm versus chaos contrast, although both are cut through with some dramatic events that don’t always end fairly. Redman keeps up Lydia’s stern exterior, but at certain points she gives in to her softer side and gives us a new perspective to her character. Neil Morrissey, as still remains her upbeat, positive sidekick and is overly hospitable to two English tourists when events don’t go exactly to plan.
Fresh from England, new doctor Samir seems out of his depth at first, after he is outdone by Ruby when she manages to come to his rescue – but his dedication to one particular patient later on in the episode paints him in a very positive light. There is a particularly current storyline which sees Ruby, Samir and Mari sacrifice their safety and for such a new doctor in the hospital. It is courageous how dedicated he is to the cause, and hints that he will be an important character throughout the series.
Rebecca Ablack, as Dr Niki, is a refreshing addition to the cast, with her positive, albeit inappropriate, eagerness to help people lightening up the show. There are some questionable moments of judgement on her part, but it is obvious that she means well and is just wanting to take care of her patients as best she can.
There are a lot of positives to take away from this episode which serve as building blocks for the rest of the series, and is a promising start for what unexpected obstacles will be thrown at the hospital.
ACV rating: **** (out of five)
Previously (Series 1-3)
Look out next week for our cast Zoom chat – follow us on Youtube to get notified