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'Love is only a side order for Ruby!' says The Good Karma Hospital star Amrita Acharia

(Image credit: Chris Burgess)

Amrita Acharia, who plays Dr Ruby Walker, chuffed The Good Karma Hospital is such a big hit for ITV

We caught up with Amrita Acharia to talk about Dr Ruby Walker's journey in The Good Karma Hospital and her role in Game of Thrones...

WOTV: The Good Karma Hospital is set in India, but it’s filmed in Sri Lanka…

Amrita Acharia: "It’s not a shabby place to film for three months. It’s been quite heavy with monsoons this year, which I quite like. We were at the tail end of it last year. It stops and starts a lot and it has caused delays, but so do stray dogs and lizards and all sorts of other things, tuk-tuks. It makes it unique."

'The Good Karma Hospital makes Ray Winstone cry every week!' says Amanda Redman

WOTV: When she decided to stay, was it because she wanted to do good work or was it because there was a spark with Gabriel and she thought something might come of this?

AA: "The relationship with him is not the main dish, it’s very much a side order. It’s not why she stayed, the main thing was she thought she’d found a home and a family here. She didn’t come looking for love, but like in most good stories love is always there. Thankfully it's quite complicated and interesting."

WOTV: Do you enjoy the ‘will they, won’t they’ side of their relationship?

AA: "To be honest when I approach my characters it’s not from the point of view that they need to have a man or need to be in love, though as I say, a good story will always add that element. But Ruby is a character with a lot of flaws and failings and there are things she’s not confronted in her life. So, it’s about how people here confront her with that, that she can be quite ignorant about the culture she’s in and set in her ways."

Amrita Acharia

WOTV: You were in the first series of Game of Thrones, did you have any idea how big the show would become?

Amrita Acharia: "It was one of my first jobs. It’s interesting, but back when I joined I didn’t really know what I was getting into. If I were to join it now it would be a different matter. When it became massive it was a bit, ‘oh’. My friend who’s a huge fan of the books was so excited. I knew it would be good because it was HBO, but I was a bit naïve really. It became this massive hit, the number one show in the world, which was cool.

"But you approach every role the same way whatever it is, with love and attention you would to any job. It was a great platform and opened many doors. Working on such a big scale was a big learning curve. I got to talk a made-up language that people still try to talk to me in to this day, so it was incredible to be part of something has such mass appeal and has a huge fan base. I don’t really see the show, it’s on my list, but Stranger Things, House of Cards and Breaking Bad came first, we’re spoilt for choice really, there’ so much good stuff."

WOTV: Is The Good Karma Hospital becoming more ambitious this year?

AA: "I would like to think so. It’s a show that’s allowing itself to be a little bit bolder and not show the pretty. India is beautiful and stunning and happy, but it’s complicated, messy and corrupted. It’s nice to let that seep into all the stories. There are lighter moments, but last year we saw everything through Ruby’s eyes, so all the characters were introduced in a ‘let’s meet them’ sort of way, so this year we get to know more about them.

"You see more of Lydia (below) and who she is and she teases bits out of Gabriel. We see that Marie is not just a nurse, she has her own issues outside of admissions. You see Ram and Mala embarking on their new journey together. AJ was a playboy now we see a change in him and a coming of age that everyone goes through on the way to adulthood. Everyone hits a crisis at some point, so there are more changes to come. As a whole it’s richer and different to last year. It’s darker, I’d like to think. It has a dark sense of humour."

WOTV: You must be an expert in medical lingo and procedures by now?

AA: "Well I don’t think my dad would agree. He’s an obstetrician. I got really excited, I was like, ‘I’m gonna do surgery this year!’ I sent him a video when I was practising on prosthetics. I was like, ‘I need to get his ideas on this’. So I sent him a video and he was like, ‘oh yeah, it’s an appendectomy, the easiest one. I was like, thanks dad!

"But what was really funny is that everyone always has an idea of how it should look, and you’re trying to figure out how to use these scissors that sort of clip together and how to cut in without it looking like you’re massacring someone. So I sent him and asked him if it was okay and he said it was good, then I asked him if looked okay and he said everyone had their different style, I was like, ‘oh my god, people have actually have a style of operating?’ That’s quite fascinating."

WOTV: Did he watch the first series?

AA: "Yeah, he did. Did he have notes for me? I didn’t dare ask him! But he enjoyed it. My dad is a man of few words. He would have said anything if he didn’t like it. No news is good news!"

WOTV: You must be pleased with the feedback the series is getting?

AA: "I think everyone was quite overwhelmed with how popular it was. I believe it was the first series to see ratings rise since Downton Abbey and that’s a massive compliment. It was a hit and it got stronger as it went along. We were chuffed. It was a series I liked watching. You forget you’re in it."

WOTV: How does it feel to be leading a hit show?

AA: "Even now I’m on the show and I never feel like the lead, more part of an ensemble. I was surprised when I sat and watched episode one, I thought, ‘I’m in it a lot’. So me and Amanda [Redman, who plays Lydia] are both of the view that it’s an ensemble. I never read the script for my bits, I read the whole thing."

WOTV: Would you like to come back for another series?

Amrita Acharia: "That depends on how it evolves. I’d love to think it has legs, I believe it does. It’s about being bold, thinking outside the box and being relatable to the audience and reach out to a broad audience. It should appeal to a mass audience, and different countries - internationally it’s done really well I hear. Norway loved it, and South Africa and Australia. I’ve heard rumours some of the airlines upped their prices because people wanted to come out to Sri Lanka, so we take the credit for that."

The Good Karma Hospital continues at 9pm on Sunday on ITV

Amrita Acharia pic: David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock