CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews the weekend’s TV: Two lovestruck doctors and a dose of sweet Sunday night TV
The Good Karma Hospital
The Caribbean With Andi And Miquita
Like a rock star’s glamorous wife once she’s past the first flush of youth, Dr Ruby Walker is in a precarious position.
With each new series of The Good Karma Hospital (ITV), she is in danger of being traded in for a younger model.
The role of Dr Ruby (Amrita Acharia) is simple. She is the naive newcomer, the innocent arrival from Britain who journeys to India in search of her identity and discovers she knows nothing about the real land of her ancestors.
Amanda Redman is her mentor, Dr Lydia Fonseca, the eccentric medic who brooks no nonsense as she dispenses lifesaving cures at her underfunded rural hospital.
Dr Ruby, played by Amrita Acharia (right), is the naive newcomer who journeys to India in search of her identity in The Good Karma Hospital
But Dr Ruby has been learning the ropes since 2017. She has handled every kind of emergency, been reunited with distant family, had her heart broken and acquired a tough armour for her idealism.
As the show returns for a fourth season, there is not much more for her character to learn. The simplest way to refresh the show would be for Ruby to leave and be replaced by a fresh face, gauche and impulsive . . . a younger model.
Good Karma’s creator, Dan Sefton, has sidestepped that choice by bringing in another ingenue. Harki Bhambra plays Dr Samir Hasan, an earnest surgeon with a charity brigade. Ruby finds him at the side of the road in a broken-down pick-up. She fixes the engine and he promptly runs over her motorbike. They have already fallen in love — it’s just a matter of time until they realise.
That’s what makes this series such engaging entertainment for a Sunday evening. It’s too low-budget to give us much of a flavour of India — there are no landscape shots, just scrappy views of a stretch of shabby beach from Neil Morrissey’s bar.
D-list drivel of the weekend:
One celebrity quiz followed another on Saturday night with The Weakest Link, The Wall Versus Celebrities, Pointless Celebrities and then Michael McIntyre’s The Wheel (all BBC1). Whatever happened to variety?
But the romances are in the grand tradition of hospital passion ever since Dr Kildare.
Within minutes, the lovestruck doctors stumble into an allegory for the pandemic, as they discover an outbreak of encephalitis lethargica, or sleeping sickness, at a nearby village.
They rush one patient, a teenage girl, to Dr Lydia’s hospital, where they are immediately walled up on an isolation ward. We left them behind locked doors in the operating theatre, where they will make either a baby or a vaccine.
Sefton also dreamed up BBC1’s afternoon crime serial The Mallorca Files, which can’t help but leave you wondering whether his entire career is a clever ploy to keep his tan topped up.
Miquita Oliver and her mother Andi were also enjoying the sunshine as they went in search of their West Indian identity.
The Caribbean With Andi And Miquita (BBC2) purported to be a life-changing journey to discover their roots, though it looked suspiciously like a glorified trip to visit family.
We’ve seen the chef and her DJ daughter travelling together before, in a car race across South-East Asia on BBC2’s Eight Go Rallying in 2018. Miquita reverts to a stroppy, sarky teenager when she’s with her mum. Discomforting to watch, it’s either a performance or an embarrassing display of immaturity — she’s 37 years old.
She complains frequently about her celebrity life: ‘I know from being on television since I was 15, it gets into your skin and into your mind, living in that really public way. I want to reclaim what I put out into the world and what I keep for myself.’
Then she and her mum stripped off their clothes to go skinny-dipping in the sea.
Here’s an idea, Miquita — next time you go on holiday, pay for the tickets yourself and don’t take a film crew.