|Portrayed by||Elisabeth Dermot-Walsh|
|First appearance||Episode 1610
4 June 2009
|Introduced by||Peter Eryl Lloyd|
Dr. Zara Carmichael MBBS BSc MD FRCS is a fictional character in the BBC soap opera Doctors, played by Elisabeth Dermot-Walsh. Zara was introduced as the new general practitioner at The Mill. She made her first appearance on 4 June 2009 and remained a regular until April 2012 when Dermot-Walsh left to go on maternity leave, she returned for a brief appearance in December 2012 before returning full-time in February 2013 until September 2015 when Dermot-Walsh left again to go on maternity leave. Dermot-Walsh returned full-time from March 2016 onwards.
Since her arrival the character has been involved in a number of different storylines including being kidnapped and having an affair with Jack Hollins (Nicolas Woodman), pregnancy and birth of son Joe Carmichael as well as suffering with post-natal depression and her on and off relationship with Daniel Granger (Matthew Chambers).
Zara first appeared in June 2009 when Heston Carter (Owen Brenman), Julia Parsons (Diane Keen) and Lily Hassan (Seeta Indrani) were interviewing for a new GP. Zara then later arrived at The Mill and was introduced, while Melody Bell (Elizabeth Bower)'s leaving party was in full swing. Daniel Granger (Matthew Chambers) had been trying to impress Zara. She asked him out for drink which he turned down. But since then he was keen to impress her again, and they continuously kept flirting with each other. Zara later turned up at Daniel's apartment, she then slept with him but ended the relationship right after, stating that they needed to get it out of the way before they could work together.
After being kidnapped Zara and Jack (Nicolas Woodman), the son of colleague Karen Hollins (Jan Pearson) were locked in a caravan they ended up having sex. After an ongoing affair eventually Jack told his dad, Rob Hollins (Chris Walker) that he had been in a relationship with Zara. Karen confronted Zara and as she was doing this Zara bent over to pick something up and Karen noticed her underwear was the same of what she found weeks ago in Jack's room. Karen then got very angry and called Zara a "slut, whore and paedophile". This ended in a fight in Reception. Zara pretended to be Daniel Granger's girlfriend in order for Lisa to allow Daniel to have regular access to his daughter. Zara was not only doing this for Daniel but also for her own gain. Zara begins a relationship with Matthew, (Nicholas Shaw) and his mother, Judith, (Caroline Langrishe) later arrives in Letherbridge. When Judith and Zara meet she thinks that Zara is familiar with her and knows her from somewhere else. Zara denies this but it is later revealed that they have met previously. Zara asks Daniel to use his charm on Judith when she comes for Botox treatment in his clinic. This he does for Zara's sake. Afterward Zara asks Daniel to seduce Judith and have sex with her. Daniel declines this immediately and he cannot believe why Zara would ask him to do such a thing.
Zara sleeps with Daniel numerous times. Daniel took Zara bowling and they officially became an item. Zara starting having hot flushes and menopausal symptoms whilst Daniel was present. He at first asks if there is anything wrong, and if shes pregnant, but she lies and says its probably just PMT. Zara finally comes clean about the menopause, and Daniel can't seem to say anything right. Zara thinks Daniel wants to end the relationship a couple of days later. Misreading the situation, she ends it first. Daniel traps Zara in her office and they get back together. They are seen leaving the Mill holding hands. Daniel and Zara tried IVF. They were left devastated when they discovered it hadn't worked and Zara wasn't pregnant. When Zara arrives for work she is nursing a hangover. During the day Zara seems to get better until lunch when she sees everyone eating and has to run to the toilets to be sick. When she and Daniel arrive home, he makes her marmite toast to combat the hangover but this only makes her feel worse. Knowing what this could mean, Daniel rushes out to a chemist; when he returns Zara is sitting on the bed with a pregnancy test in her hands. After Daniel tells her that he loves her, she reveals the results of the test, and both she and Daniel are overjoyed to discover that she is pregnant. Zara goes into premature labour at the Mill, with only Cherry Malone (Sophie Abelson) and Kevin Tyler (Simon Rivers) around to help her. Zara gives birth to a baby boy named Joe (Emily and Lewis Whitehouse). Daniel arrives shortly after and Zara, Daniel and their baby are taken to hospital. After much debate regarding the welfare of their new baby leaving the safety of the hospital, they finally return home. After discovering that Daniel had slept with Cherry, Zara ended the relationship with him and left with Joe in August 2012. Zara returns in December 2012 for a meeting with Howard Bellamy (Ian Kelsey). As she is about to leave once again she is persuaded to talk to Daniel, she reveals that she now has a job in Bristol and sees no reason to come back and leaves once again.
She returns once again after leaving her job in Bristol and returning to work in The Mill. She begins to warm towards Daniel once again the following month, Daniel later discovers that she is dating another man named Dutch. After giving Dutch the third degree, Daniel admits to Zara that he misses everything about her which scares Dutch off, although Zara is initially furious with Daniel for his interference they then fall back into each other's arms. Daniel is delighted to think that he's finally won back the love of his life, believing that everything can now get back to normal. However, as they start meeting up for liaisons again, Zara reveals that she'll be setting strict time limits on their time together and won't be letting Daniel spend any extra time with Joe. They later resume their relationship. Zara later takes a sabbatical from The Mill in September 2015 and at her leaving party she gives a speech with her customary approach and tells them all to count down the days until she returns.
Zara nervously returns to The Mill and is impressed by new boss Anthony Harker (Adam Astill). Zara catches up with Karen over lunch and is amazed to hear about Valerie Pitman (Sarah Moyle) and Barry Biglow (David Perks)'s wedding and launches into a tirade about what an evolutionary disaster their children would be. Karen is reassured that the old Zara is definitely back.
Speaking of Zara, Walsh said in an interview with OK! magazine: "I think it would be fair to call Zara a bit of a handful! She’s quite the volatile personality, and I grabbed the character with both hands. She’s been a bit of a home-wrecker in the past, but I like her; even when you’re playing a baddie, you have to play a baddie like you’re playing a heroine. She behaves appallingly. I don’t think I’d particularly want her as a friend, but she’d be a great fun ride if you’re with Zara!".
Asked if she prefers playing Zara's bitchier moments or her more vulnerable side, Walsh replied: "Well, nothing beats a good putdown line or a bitchy comment! We have some brilliant writers, so Zara does get the last laugh so often. But that makes it all the more enjoyable when she doesn't get the last laugh and ends up with egg on her face. That only really works if she's had a few weeks of really getting away with everything, and then when it all goes wrong for her, she simply can't believe it!. She went on to say: "Equally with her vulnerable moments - I think they really work when there are fewer of them, because then they're more of a surprise. We see her hard exterior, but then we know that in private, she's just like the rest of us and is full of doubts and fears."
In September 2010, Dermot-Walsh revealed details of an upcoming storyline involving Zara and Daniel Granger portrayed by Matthew Chambers. Speaking at the Inside Soap Awards she said: "There's a fantastic five-part story coming up in the next few weeks involving my character and Daniel. I don't want to give everything away, but something terrible happens to Daniel's baby daughter and Zara steps in to help. It's all very dramatic!" She added: "It's nice to be the good guy for a change. Normally Zara plays the baddie and for once she gets to play the heroine, which makes a nice change for me!"
Speaking to Digital Spy, Dermot-Walsh talked about how she prepared for Zara's labour scenes saying, "It was very daunting, really - especially as we know that so many people watching Doctors are people who are staying at home with their children. It will be fresh in their memories, so I didn't want to do it wrong! But of course, when you start researching, you discover that it's different for every woman - and if you ask people about giving birth, everybody will say something different. I've been preparing for it for a long time, though, as it's what my character has wanted ever since she came into the show. That was nearly three years ago, so to finally get the thing that I've played her as wanting for so long was quite emotional to shoot." On calling the baby Joe, she said, "I think it's really appropriate, because Daniel's father figure was Joe Fenton (Stephen Boxer), who was on the show for years and was the patriarch of Doctors for a long time. So that's a very significant name for Daniel, and I think it's very loving of Zara that she doesn't insist on calling the baby something like Lysander or Demetrius - as she'd teased him that she would!" Dermot-Walsh also stated that it has been "amazing" working with babies.
In April 2012, Elisabeth Dermot-Walsh announced on ITV program This Morning that she was expecting a baby and would be leaving to go on maternity leave. Asked how Zara would depart producer Peter Lloyd told showbiz website Digital Spy: "We're so pleased for her and she's loving being a mum, though of course we miss her - she'll leave our screens at the end of August. Don't panic, it's not forever; rest assured she will return maybe in the festive season. But yes, how to get rid of Zara? It was a real challenge to motivate such a dramatic exit, particularly when she has to take Joe with her and have a reason to come back. Things do get very dark for Zara and Daniel - with an act that changes many lives at The Mill. That's all I'm saying for now, but there's a major clue just before the Olympics."
Dermot-Walsh returned to film scenes in October 2012 making a brief appearance in December 2012. Zara returned on screen full-time in February 2013. Speaking of her return in an interview with Digital Spy Dermot-Walsh revealed that it was amazing to be back: "As they say, everything changes but everything stays the same! I filmed Zara's departure scenes in April last year, and then I did two weeks in September for her return at Christmas, which was a bit early because my baby was so little! I then returned full-time in November. It's madness as I'm just busier than ever! I'm doing the same job, but of course I've got my baby now too." Speaking of Zara's feelings towards Daniel once she returns she said: "Well, it's very complicated. She gives him a very hard time and she's keeping his access arrangements to their baby as they were before - very minimal. However, if she hated him that much and really did want him out of her life, my question is: what is she doing back? Zara obviously can't live with Daniel and can't live without him. Their relationship is so complicated."
Elisabeth Dermot-Walsh and Matthew Chambers who plays Daniel Granger were nominated for "Best on-screen partnership" at the 2012 British Soap Awards but lost out to Jake Wood and Jo Joyner who play Max and Tanya Branning on EastEnders.
Dermot-Walsh won "Best female acting performance" at the 2015 RTS Midlands Awards. Walsh shared her delight on Twitter, admitting that she was slightly overwhelmed to receive the prize on her first day back at work following maternity leave.
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