Don’t tell Morse – but Sergeant Lewis has shoulder length hair, a degree in medical and no tax disc on his car. This is Kevin Whately as we’ve never seen him before. As a passionate, divorced GP in Peak Practice, a new eight part drama series about modern country doctors which starts on ITV this week. Kevin plays Dr Jack Kerruish who joins The Beeches, an old fashioned medical practice in the heart of the Peak District, fresh from working in Africa.
It’s run by workaholic unmarried married GP, Beth Glover, who is fast losing patients and staff to a flash new local health centre. ‘Much as I love playing Lewis it’s a relief to leave him behind after seven years,’ grins the Geordie actor, 42. ‘If I’m not ready to carry a series without John Thaw now, I never will be.’
But the Thaw influence is not far away. John’s stepdaughter Melanie plays Jack’s peevish girlfriend in the first episode. Within just two weeks between starting work on this series, and shooting the last episode of Inspector Morse, Kevin admits he had precious little time to research his new role.
‘I did spend some time observing our local GP practice in Buckinghamshire,’ he says. ‘But I’m still praying I can get away with looking quite like a real doctor on screen. There was one outdoor scene where I had trouble hooking up an emergency fluid thing – I think it’s called a line – for a patient with kidney failure. I know all the jargon now!’ he laughs.
Kevin, a father of two whose wife and Madeline Newton appears in a later episode of the series, admits that it will take some time to shake off the ghost of Sergeant Lewis, ‘That’s inevitable’ he says. ‘But Jack’s a much edgier and passionate character than I usually play. I would love to see this become a long running series. I seem to be quite good at staying with roles!’