Doctors is a British medical soap opera which began broadcasting on BBC One on 26 March 2000. Set in the fictional West Midlands town of Letherbridge, the soap follows the lives of the staff and patients of the Mill Health Centre, a fictional NHS doctor's surgery, as well as its sister surgery, the University of Letherbridge Campus Surgery. Kirsty Millar (Kiruna Stamell) is hired as a receptionist in January, while Wendi Peters made her debut as Dr. Nina Bulsara in February. In March, Rahul Arya joined the cast as Dr. Suni Bulsara, Nina's son. He was followed by his aunt, Binita Prabhu (Nina Wadia), who appeared for a guest stint in April. April also saw the arrival of midwife Malika Dahlan (Aria Prasad), as well as Tanisha Fonesca (Andrea Ali), a love interest for Bear Sylvester (Dex Lee). In May, student Miles Bailey (Louis Saxby) made his first appearance, as well as PC Claudia Briant (Kiza Deen), a police officer and love interest for Bear. Additionally, multiple other characters appear throughout the year.
Kirsty Millar, portrayed by Kiruna Stamell, made her first appearance on 11 January 2023. She is introduced as a receptionist at the Mill Health Centre following the dismissal of former receptionist Valerie Pitman (Sarah Moyle). In her first scene, she meets with Ruhma Carter (Bharti Patel), who she has known for years due to working with her at St. Phils Hospital. Ruhma has high praise for Kirsty, informing the staff at the Mill how experienced she is. Speaking of her first episode, What's on TV wrote that Kirsty would divide the existing staff due to her "forthright manner". On her BBC profile, Kirsty was described as an "organised, loving, opinionated" character that "doesn't suffer fools". It also stated that her reason for coming to the Mill was to seek a new life. TVTimes wrote that thirty-something Kirsty would surprise the staff; Bear Sylvester (Dex Lee) "quickly realises she isn't backwards in coming forwards" when she immediately demands a new reception desk due to her dwarfism, while Emma Reid (Dido Miles) is "thrown" when Kirsty intercepts and takes over between herself and an angry patient.
What's on TV also teased the imminent arrivals of her husband and son, Rich (Richard Atwill) and Ollie (Isaac Benn). Simon Timblick of What to Watch confirmed that Kirsty's home life would be a focal point of her first storyline in the series. She is shown to not want to be with Rich anymore and a week into her time on Doctors, she tells him to pack his belongings and leave. She also has difficulties with Ollie reluctantly joining the army. Inside Soap also hinted that Kirsty and fellow receptionist Scarlett Kiernan (Kia Pegg) would have a workplace dispute when the pair "rub each other up the wrong way". However, a friendship between the pair is eventually developed when Kirsty invites Scarlett to live with her.
Stamell appeared on the BBC topical series Morning Live in March 2023 to talk about her time on Doctors, where she said that she was grateful to be given a character backstory that did not revolve around being disabled. Presenter Gethin Jones remarked that Kirsty does not reference her dwarfism, which Stamell replied that she is thankful for. She felt that because Kirsty's family and colleagues would be used to her condition, there would be no point in talking about it since it is part of her everyday life. Since Stamell has an Australian-influenced accent from her time living there, Sam Quek asked how she had learned the Brummie dialect. STamell recalled listening to audiobooks narrated by Jess Phillips and Alison Hammond and said that she was influenced by their accents. She struggled to pick up the accent at first, but began to feel more comfortable using it the longer she had stayed in the role.
Dr. Nina Bulsara, portrayed by Wendi Peters, made her first appearance on 20 February 2023. Peters began filming on Doctors in October 2022 and announced her casting on the BBC topical series Morning Live on 2 November 2022. Peters, who rose to prominence for portraying Cilla Battersby-Brown on Coronation Street, said that Nina is a completely different type of character to Cilla. Her backstory involves growing up as the daughter of two solicitors. Nina then went on to marry a consultant who died from a stroke. Peters described Nina as a headstrong woman who "knows what she wants" and hoped that she would get it. Helen Daly of the Radio Times described Nina as "a chatterbox who has an opinion on everything and everyone" and opined that while she can be overbearing for her fellow colleagues, she is "a ray of light and will always find the positive in any difficult situation". Daly wrote that Nina would be a good addition to the cast, as well as Metro's Calli Kitson being intrigued by the character. Doctors co-star Elisabeth Dermot Walsh posted online that she was excited for viewers to meet the "charming, dynamic and maddening character".
On Peters' casting, executive producer Mike Hobson said: "We are absolutely delighted to welcome Wendi to the Doctors cast. She is a familiar face every soap fan will recognise and we know she will be brilliant in this role. Wendi joins as Dr Nina Bulsara who is a feisty busybody who wants to be respected. She is bound to ruffle a few feathers at the Mill." In November 2022, Peters appeared on the Hear She Is radio show, where she talked about her role prior to her debut appearance airing. She confirmed that Nina's surname is derived from her dead husband, who was Indian. Peters also revealed that the pair have a son together who arrives in the serial a few weeks after Nina's debut. Prior to being cast as Nina, Peters had portrayed Nicky Connelly in a 2021 episode of Doctors. The radio show host asked her if there was any connection between the two roles, to which she clarified that Nina is a new and unconnected character.
Peters' first episode as Nina was set to air on 8 February 2023 where the character meets with Zara Carmichael (Walsh) at a medical conference. In the episode, the characters get caught up in an explosion at the hotel hosting the conference. However, due to the episode being set for transmission at a similar time to the 2023 Turkey–Syria earthquake, the BBC decided not to pull the episode from schedules hours before transmission. The episode eventually aired on 20 February 2023. The trauma acts as bonding for Nina and Zara and the two become set on introducing Nina as a partner at the Mill Health Centre. Once Zara persuades fellow partner Daniel Granger (Matthew Chambers) to allow Nina to become a partner, she states that she wants her son, Dr. Suni Bulsara (Rahul Arya), to be hired at the Mill.
Dr. Suni Bulsara, portrayed by Rahul Arya, made first appearance on 8 March 2023. He was introduced as the son of Nina (Wendi Peters). Nina becomes a partner at the Mill Health Centre and one of her first acts is getting Suni hired as a doctor there as she feels he would be perfect to work there. Upon his hiring, it was hinted in episode descriptions that he would "ruffle feathers" amongst his new colleagues. Suni arrives on his first day in a luxury sports car which he parks in the charging port section of the car park. Scarlett Kiernan (Kia Pegg) tells him he cannot park there, but he ignores her since he wants to show off his car in a prominent location. A reluctant Scarlett gives him a tour of the building, but Suni quickly gets bored and wanders into Luca McIntyre's (Ross McLaren) nursing room where he is "favourably impressed by the sight of Luca".
Suni is bisexual and after flirting with Luca, he also flirts with Scarlett. However, Luca notices that he clams up when Nina walks in on the pair talking, and eventually learns that Suni is not out to his mother. A few weeks into his tenure, Suni was the focus of a standalone episode that saw him helping Jason Neale (Darryl Mundoma) with his mental health, as well as flashing back to see his reaction to Nina getting him a job without telling him. It touched upon his memories of his dead father when Suni hoped that he would be proud of him. Suni is shown to be insecure within his friendships and tries to impress the colleagues at the Mill by treating them to lavish meals and experiences, which Sid Vere (Ashley Rice) notices and gets annoyed by. Metro's Chris Hallam noted how Suni makes a bad first impression on almost everybody at the Mill and suggested that he may be "too flash and not really cut out to be a doctor".
Binita Prabhu, portrayed by Nina Wadia, appeared between 6 and 17 April 2023. She was introduced as Suni Bulsara's (Rahul Arya) aunt. Metro's Chris Hallam described Binita as "a dreadfully overbearing relative", with What to Watch's Simon Timblick adding that she is "hard to please". When Binita's sister-in-law, Nina Bulsara (Wendi Peters) learns that she plans on visiting them, she clears the house of all microwave meals, as well as hiring a cleaner to avoid criticism from Binita. Suni assumes that Nina is overreacting, but Nina is "soon vindicated".
Upon her arrival, she uses Nina "like a human coat hanger" and makes comments about how she is not feeding Suni enough. Binita then attempts to set Suni up with an Indian scientist that she knows, as well as offending Nina by billing her work at the Mill Health Centre a hobby. Hallam hinted that both Nina and Suni would not be able to put up with more of Binita's behaviour over time. Her guest stint climaxed with a showdown between the three of them when Nina and Suni tire of Binita's judgements.
Malika Dahlan, portrayed by Aria Prasad, first appeared on 19 April 2023 and made her final appearance on 6 June 2023. Prasad was contracted on the soap for a three-month guest stint to cover an extended break of regular cast member Bharti Patel. Malika was introduced as a temporary midwife at St. Phils Hospital who covers for Ruhma Carter (Patel), who is sent to work at East Letherbridge for three months. Malika's first episode sees her meet "troubled young couple" Katie Seary (Heather Campbell-Ferguson) and Ben Tate (Elliot Norman). Prasad's second appearance on Doctors saw her star in a standalone Ramadan-themed episode where her character "faces a heartbreaking tragedy". A mother in her care dies, which causes Malika to call in sick. She seeks advice from Ruhma, who tells her to confide in her colleagues. She is then invited to a community iftar to lift her spirits.
Malika struggles with the heavy workload within the NHS and is advised by former colleague Maisie Owens (Jacqui-Lee Pryce) to become a private midwife for her wellbeing. Patient Kim Lewis (Lorraine Tai) also makes a judgemental comment about the NHS' services, which makes Malika confront Kim and defend her decision to work for the NHS. She is again shown to be a headstrong and knowledgeable character when she reprimands Dr Penny Phillips (Angelina Chudi) for not listening to her expertise as a midwife.
Tanisha Fonesca, portrayed by Andrea Ali, first appeared on 19 April 2023 and made her final appearance on 11 May 2023. She was introduced as someone who went to university with Bear Sylvester (Dex Lee). They meet at a meeting about online accounting systems and after "the two old friends immediately hit it off again", they decide to leave the meeting early to go on a date. On the date, Tanisha tells Bear how she stopped working for the NHS and eventually went into the private sector. Afterwards, the pair have sex. Bear "tries to play it cool" when telling housemate Sid Vere (Ashley Rice) about meeting her, but makes it clear that he feels "a spark" between them. What to Watch journalist Simon Timblick hinted that Tanisha and Bear would have a romantic storyline. Bear gets a visit from Tanisha at the Mill Health Centre, where he works as a business manager. He gives Tanisha a tour but is worried about what Tanisha thinks of the Mill. She tries to be respectful but tells Bear that he should move into the private sector since she feels he is better than a small NHS clinic. She arranges a job interview for Bear with one of her bosses without informing him prior to the day of the interview. Bear refuses to go and the pair argue, after which Tanisha storms out.
Miles Bailey, portrayed by Louis Saxby, first appeared on 18 May 2023. He is a second-year medical student at Letherbridge University who is instructed by Professor Abid Anwar (Sartaj Garewal) to give Zara Carmichael (Elisabeth Dermot Walsh) a tour of the campus prior to her joining as a lecturer. Miles "doesn't hold back" by slating a number of the other lecturers and expresses his happiness that Zara will be teaching his course. After seeing her, he finds a video of her online and sits watching it. On her first day teaching, Zara is greeted by Miles, and What to Watch's Simon Timblick confirmed that Miles has a "crush" on Zara.
Continuing to be her "admirer", Miles insists on escorting Zara to her class. He helps her with a technical issue in class, and while doing so, he flirts with her. Classmate Chloe Fisher (Martha Breen) picks up on his interest in Zara and teases him, but he continues to make suggestive remarks during lectures. Zara grows tired and warns him to stop making flirtatious comments. Miles persists and kisses Zara, who returns his kiss, while Chloe takes a photo of them.
PC Claudia Briant, portrayed by Kiza Deen, first appeared on 24 May 2023. She is a police constable that pulls Bear Sylvester (Dex Lee) over for speeding. Bear, who has previously been the target of racist stop-and-search situation, assumes that it is happening again and "prepares for trouble". However, since Claudia is a black female officer, his attitude is challenged. Bear is surprised when Claudia visits him at the Mill Health Centre later on in the day and worries that he is somehow in further trouble. Simon Timblick of What to Watch hinted that Claudia "has something rather unexpected to ask Bear". BBC episode descriptions confirmed that Bear and Claudia would go on a date, but that it would not go well. Bear then becomes "determined to fix things with Claudia".
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