Earlier this year, in the release of the ITV/ITVX drama series Malpractice, Priyanka Patel could be seen playing junior doctor Ramya Morgan. Malpractice is directed by Philip Barantini, and Priyanka reunited with her fellow cast members for the episode 1 screening. Previously, Priyanka worked on the TV pilot Britney, played Dawn in Another Me alongside Sophie Turner, and she started her screen career playing Dede Baxter in the CBBC show Sadie J. In 2021, when theatres were reopening after the pandemic, Priyanka was part of Heart of Hammersmith at the Lyric Hammersmith. We recently caught up with Priyanka about playing Dr. Ramya Morgan in the drama series Malpractice, her time as Dawn in Another Me and starting her screen career in Sadie J as Dede Baxter.
In the new ITV/ITVX series Malpractice, you play regular character Dr. Ramya Morgan, was there anything that drew you to the show and role?
Having Phil’s (Barantini) name attached as director was definitely a big pull – Boiling Point was THE thing to watch (which I LOVED) and there was a massive buzz around his name. He was one to look out for. So just knowing my audition was going to be watched by him was enough.
I was also lucky enough to be able to read episodes 1 and 2 before my first audition so I got a really good sense of who Ramya was and how she needed to come across. I’ve said this before, but her unlikable qualities were what stood out to me initially. I could instantly feel how her personality could be tough to handle in that environment and I thought it could be really fun to play a character like that.
Can you tell us about Dr. Ramya Morgan and what is she like to play?
Ramya has a hard time. She’s young and fresh into her field. She’s an F2 junior doctor doing her stint in A&E and you can see over the course of the show that it’s not her favourite place to be… but she turns up, wants to get stuck in and at the heart of it, really loves her job. I don’t think she’d put herself through medical school if it wasn’t something she was passionate about.
It was a challenge to play a character like that. She almost gets pinned as the villain of the show because she’s brashly bold – both herself and Lucinda don’t really get along very well and they don’t shy away from showing that. But I also wanted people to feel moments of compassion for her. She gets shaken up at a very early stage in her career and despite their feud, she looks up to Lucinda, almost like a sister.
What was it like filming alongside the rest of the cast and how was your time on set of the series?
I hit the jackpot really. It’s almost been a year since we finished filming the series and when I think about the show, I still can’t get my head around how many talented names were attached to this project. They are some of the industry’s most wanted. Being on set and watching your idols in action really is the best way to learn and I couldn’t get enough. And everyone was so receptive to me being the new kid on the block, they gave me so much time and energy to help me navigate the process. It was a dream.
Did you have a favourite aspect of working on the show and how different did you find this to your previous projects?
I loved working on the long scenes involving prosthetics. We only really had one or two takes to get them right and we needed to rehearse them like choreographed dances. They were stressful and long days but all of our energy and focus went into moments like these to make sure we brought the world to life. Things got gory and messy!
How was it seeing the series be released on ITV and watching the completed episodes for the first time?
It was a whirlwind! We had a screening of episode 1 which eased me into seeing it all come together but it didn’t stop it from feeling completely surreal. It all came round so fast, it only felt like moments before when we had wrapped and so to see it all completed on screen felt so quick – but it was more than I could’ve imagined. I knew it would look amazing from watching Phil’s previous work and knowing he’s brilliant at translating high-intensity environments on screen. Once I got over the initial cringe of seeing my face and hearing my voice, I was overwhelmingly proud of what we had created.
Who do you think will enjoy watching Malpractice and why would you recommend watching it?
I think the target audience for Malpractice is wide. It aired at a pretty poignant time, nurses and junior doctors were striking frequently to challenge how they were being treated within our NHS and since the pandemic, especially, it’s been at the forefront of the news. I think the intensity of Malpractice highlights Lucinda’s journey on juggling the pressures of the hospital and her personal life and how if we push our doctors and nurses to their limits, both those worlds will collide and there will be consequences to that. It tests your moral compass as an audience member.
You were part of the 2021 short film Britney, can you tell us about this?
I was! Britney was actually a pilot created by the brilliant comedy double-act Charly Clive and Ellen Robertson. My part was small and you’d miss me if you blinked but it was great to work with them both. They were so supportive to me on set. I have such huge credit for comedians, watching them work together was hilarious.
What do you remember most from filming for Another Me as Dawn?
I remember it being very cold… we filmed in Cardiff in the depths of winter. It was my little introduction into the world of indie film, which was fantastic, and working alongside Sophie Turner was incredible. It was a bonus to have someone to learn from who was my age and so much more experienced than me.
What are some of your stand-out memories from playing Dede Baxter in the CBBC series Sadie J, and how was it having this as your first on-screen acting role?
Sadie J will always have a special place in my heart. It was the dream job for any actor, let alone a young teen. I remember turning up on our first day, meeting the rest of the cast, waving goodbye to our parents while knowing we were going to be living together all summer to film a CBBC show. And we did that for three consecutive summers. And I just thought, it doesn’t really get better than this, this is what I want every day for the rest of my life.
It was just as much fun to film as it was to watch and the memories I have from that time feel like they were yesterday. I’ll always be grateful to have left my mark on a brilliant channel like CBBC which I watched so much of myself, and which sadly doesn’t exist anymore.
We understand you were part of Heart of Hammersmith at Lyric Hammersmith in 2021, what was this like?
Heart of Hammersmith was a wild ride. We were thrown the mammoth task to put together a community show as the Lyric’s comeback from the pandemic, when theatre and art were feeling lost. It was tough, especially when so many of us were feeling the long lasting physical effects of the pandemic ourselves, but it was worth every second. I got to create theatre with both new and old faces and the show was a massive success, we even threw in a seven-minute dance number in the middle of the production!
I’m a West London girl and the Lyric has always been my theatre. I’ve been in-and-out of that building for the last ten years, it’s been my second home, so I feel really lucky to have performed on the main stage – hopefully I will do so again in my future!
How did you get into acting and was it something you always wanted to do?
Acting was something that made me come alive but I’d say it was my parents and my aunty who noticed that about me before I did. I was just in my own little world. My parents pushed me to explore acting clubs after school, coaching and auditions – my aunty put me on stage with my cousins performing sketches for our Indian community growing up. So I guess I’ve always been somewhat involved in that world. But I was also really shy, an extroverted introvert if you like – so getting me to show day as a child was a task!
Do you have any favourite films, TV and theatre shows to watch?
Triangle of Sadness has been a recent favourite, it’s completely absurd and brilliant. It’s the first film that made me feel physically nauseous while watching it. Harris Dickinson’s doing brilliantly and I’m especially excited for the release of Scrapper coming out soon. I’m also obsessed with Heartstopper, it deserves all the success and I’ve watched every episode clutching my heart.
I’m a big theatre girl. I watched Red Pitch at the Bush, which is making its comeback in September. It’s got a killer cast and encapsulates the raw feelings of gentrification in our city perfectly.
How do you like to spend your time away from acting?
I’m quite a homebody, I’m good at spending time with myself. I’ve recently moved to South London so I’ve been trying to explore my new area and I spend a lot of time cooking too. I’m very close to my sisters too so I often gatecrash their homes and force them to host me for the evening.
Otherwise, spending time with friends (especially those not in the industry). Sometimes the performing world can be all consuming so I try to focus my energy on not letting it completely take over every part of my life.
What are you hoping the rest of 2023 brings you and do you have any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?
2023 has already brought me so much. 2022 and 2023 have been some of the best years of my life. I’m just riding on the success of Malpractice and feeling super proud I got to put my little stamp on it. Who knows what my future holds but I’m very content with where I’m at now.
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