Some things know no boundaries and translate worldwide. Medical skills are one of those things and that’s exactly why Syrian refugee Dr. Bashir “Bash” Hamed (Hamza Haq) finds himself using his battle-tested skills working in emergency medicine on the new CTV drama series Transplant. Premiering on Wednesday, February 26 at 9 p.m. ET, Transplant follows Bash has he gets a chance at a coveted residency in the Emergency Department of one of the best hospitals in Toronto, the fictional York Memorial.
Once in this position, Bash soon finds that there are numerous obstacles he must overcome to resume his career. Not only will he be dealing with integrating into a new team, led by Dr. Jed Bishop (John Hannah) and practicing medicine in a new country, but Bash is also trying to make a new life for himself and his younger sister, Amira (Sirena Gulamgaus). Haq and Hannah recently spoke to The TV Junkies about what drew them to the series, as well as what viewers can expect from this immigrant story, masquerading as a medical drama.
The TV Junkies: While things are getting better, it’s not often we see a diverse lead such as Bash on a television series. Hamza, what does the opportunity to play this character mean to you?
Hamza Haq: It did mean a lot to have that in a show that is representative of what real life looks like these days. I’m grateful to CTV and Joseph Kay [showrunner] who thought this was a story worth telling.
TTVJ: John, what was it for you that made you want to come to Canada and film and be a part of this series?
John Hannah: I wanted to be a part of a story that feels like a fresh narrative and has a lead character that’s really taking the audience on a journey. He’s a character that might be new to a lot of the audience, but he’s still human, still feels the same, and has the same passions and desires as all of us. To be a part of that story, and give that message, along with being incredibly entertaining, well-written, and beautifully shot is just fantastic. It’s one of the best experiences I’ve had. I can honestly say that.
TTVJ: I really enjoyed watching and learning about Bash’s relationship with his younger sister, Amira. Hamza, what’s it like working with a younger actor like Sirena?
HH: I can easily say that working with Sirena has been the most effortless part of this process. I don’t have to act at all around her. We had that relationship off the top. You’re working with a young girl and you just want to make sure everything is OK with her. To have an actor give how they truly feel in the moment to you is an invaluable gift. She gave that to me 100% of the time going in. It was phenomenal and she’s just great.
TTVJ: John, Bishop seems to have a close relationship with Torri Higginson’s Claire Malone. What’s going on there?
JH: We have history, there’s chemistry, and let’s throw some physics in as well. [laughs] It is a very unique dynamic, and when you talk about second chances, there’s something that develops later on in the show. Those deeper feelings that we have for each other outside of the work environment gets explored. It’s fun, especially as an older person to be the love interest.
TTVJ: Is there anything you can preview about the upcoming season that you want viewers to keep an eye out for? HH: So much of this is just a personal show. Every director that came in gave us their all. Every actor gave it their all. It’s such a phenomenal cast.
JH: With this type of show you have to create an event to put all these characters together, but you don’t want it to feel as if they’ve been shoe-horned in for the sake of a dynamic. Because of the quality of the writing, all of our characters are real, three-dimensional characters with real issues. There’s a very organic feel about the show.
HH: The characters feel like they aren’t there to fill a quota, but feel like they are supposed to be there. Our staff at the fictional York Memorial feels very real. It feels like Bash comes into something already in motion instead of creating it from scratch.
It is a medical procedural at the base level, and we’re dealing with new patients and stories every episode, but I can safely say every episode has something for everybody. If it’s something you have seen before, it certainly won’t be like the way our team chose to go about it.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.