Preview: The Good Karma Hospital

Every once in a while, something broadcasts on one of the mainstream channels that you never knew you needed to see. That you never knew could work. That you never knew you would like.

ITV’s The Good Karma Hospital is just that.

On the face of it, the six-part medical drama seems like a journey of self-discovery, as British-Asian junior doctor Ruby Walker (Amrita Acharia) is tempted away from Britain by an advert for life in India. But, when Ruby arrives at the dilapidated yet picturesque Good Karma Hospital in Southern India, there is the sudden realisation that so much more is going on. And Ruby will face her toughest challenges yet – none more emotional than the decision Head Nurse Mari Rodriguez (Nimmi Harasagama) forces her to make in the opening episode.

British doctor Lydia Fonseca (Amanda Redman) is the stern yet loveable head of the run-down hospital and is quick to take Ruby under her wing – at the same time as throwing her right in at the deep end. Lydia is loved in India but Redman’s acting is so fantastic that the episodes will slowly peel away Lydia’s hard and jokey exterior to reveal her own storyline about how – and why – this woman came to be running a money-starved hospital halfway across the world. Viewers also catch a glimpse of her personal life as Lydia has a ‘mutually beneficial’ relationship with bar-owning Brit Greg McConnell (Neil Morrissey) who, no doubts, has a story of his own to tell.

Completing the medical trio is Dr Gabe Varma (James Floyd). Described early on as a ‘human raincloud’, his tough exterior is sure to crumble away when he forms part of saddest storyline we know about so far – the one written for Maggie Smart (Phyllis Logan). Early on in the first episode, Maggie reveals to Gabe a secret that the matriarch is yet to share with her own family and, instantly, the two are bound together.

And is love just around the corner for Ruby and Gabe by the end of this Bollywood-meets-Scrubs drama?

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After the screening of the first episode, writer Dan Sefton and executive producer (Tiger Aspect Drama) Will Gould joined cast members for a press conference in front of us comfortably seated media people.

Gould commented that he and the team were ‘trying to do medical in a slightly different way’ and this is something that The Good Karma Hospital definitely achieves. It stands proudly away from long-running BBC medical dramas Holby City and Casualty by keeping the medical jargon to a minimum and really getting down the bare bones of the main characters, none of whom are less important than any other. He adds that they wanted to find their ‘own way’ of broadcasting the genre and the fusion of cultures and depiction of Indian issues that may be viewed differently in the West (such as the desire for a son, who carries no dowry, and the caste system) is an incredibly unique way of ensuring several different hooks for the series.

Sefton is a doctor, and so the medical background of the show is immediately coloured by the knowledge that conditions and symptoms have been written in realistically. But during the press conference, Dan mentioned something I’d never heard a writer talk about before – structure and agency for a character. The fact we’ll see Maggie make her own choice about her medical care will undoubtedly get the audience thinking. Maggie’s story is founded on the idea of a ‘good death’ and being able to choose how and where you die – and what you do leading up to your death. As Dan solemnly says, he sees people who ‘have plans but never get to carry them out’ on an almost-daily basis as a doctor in Accident and Emergency. Good Karma Hospital is all about getting the chance to carry out those plans.

I have a plan I want to see – the one for a second series.


Full cast:

Amanda Redman (Dr Lydia Fonseca)

Amrita Acharia (Dr Ruby Walker)

James Floyd (Dr Gabriel Varma)

Neil Morrissey (Greg McConnell)

Phyllis Logan (Maggie Smart)

Philip Jackson (Paul Smart)

Darshan Jariwalla (Ram Nair)

Sagar Radia (AJ Nair)

Nimmi Harasagama (Mari Rodriguez)

Leanne Best (Debbie Smart)

Deepak Verma (Varun Kapoor)

Clive Russell (Desmond)

Tom Canton (Marcus)

Madhur Jaffery (Mother Carmen)


The Good Karma Hospital starts on ITV on Sunday 5 February 2017 at 9pm.

To get involved:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/GoodKarmaHospital

Twitter: www.twitter.com/goodkarmahosp

Instagram: www.instagram.com/TheGoodKarmaHospital

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Posted on January 26, 2017, in The Good Karma Hospital, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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