Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Learn to Be Your Own Doctor; ON THE SMALL SCREEN

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Learn to Be Your Own Doctor; ON THE SMALL SCREEN

Article excerpt

TAMAL RAY might not have triumphed on The Great British Bake Off last year, but the young doctor's warm and engaging personality won over viewers - so perhaps it's little wonder he's been snapped up to present Channel 4's new Be Your Own Doctor.

He describes the one-off episode as "a light-hearted look at popular health topics".

"We're trying to bust some of the more ridiculous health myths. We look into the science, or lack of. The idea is to try to help people be a bit more informed about their own health. Some of it's also about assumptions we make about common sorts of stuff," explains Tamal, 30, who took time out from training as an anaesthetist to take part in 2015's Bake Off, making it to the final.

One of the show's segments sees him and fellow presenter, Food Unwrapped's Kate Quilton, examine dental hygiene.

"We do a little test to see how good we are at brushing our teeth. I was pretty cocky going into that," Tamal admits, laughing.

"I don't want to ruin the surprise, but it seems like even someone who's really earnest about their dental hygiene, maybe we're not always getting it completely right!" They also look into the importance of sunscreen and the growing popularity among new mothers of turning their placenta into pills, something Tamal confesses he'd never heard of.

"That was really interesting, going into the science of it and getting them chemically analysed, to see what benefits they may have had."

These days, we're just as likely - if not more so - to check in with Dr Google, than book an appointment with our GP.

While some medics might be irritated by the idea of people trying to self-diagnose on the internet, the Bake Off alumnus is realistic about the situation.

"I think it's just part of our modern age, that people will use the internet for all sorts of things. I changed a tyre for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and I used YouTube to Tamal and do it!" he reveals.

"People are going to Google their symptoms and conditions and there's a lot of great information on the internet, but there's also a lot of rubbish. Maybe one of the roles as a doctor in this day and age is pointing people in the right direction, where the good sources of information are and what the bad sources are, and how to recognise the difference.

"That's what we're trying to do with the show, I guess; trying to dispel the unhelpful information."

With so much available at the click of a mouse, however, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and focus solely on the worst possible outcomes.

Does he consider himself a hypochondriac? "I can be. I have to sometimes imagine I'm the patient, and think, 'What would I say as a doctor if someone came to me with these symptoms?', and, 'OK, that's the more rational idea', rather than what I might have jumped to first. …

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