'Scroungers' and stereotypes: Kate & Koji revels in outdated prejudice

“There’s four things in life I hate: scroungers, foreigners, doctors and posh people.” These aren’t the words of 1970s National Front supporters; this is Kate Abbott, the prejudiced protagonist of the new ITV sitcom Kate & Koji, a show so distasteful and dated that watching it is like looking into a time-capsule montage of Britain’s finest moments of racial prejudice.

The storyline is simple: Abbott, a seaside cafe owner played by Brenda Blethyn, likes her England and her customers “traditional”, but her world is disrupted with the sudden arrival of asylum-seeking doctor Koji, a besuited Jimmy Akingbola, speaking in a thick Nigerian-referencing accent (although he is only referred to as being “from Africa”).

In the two episodes made available for critics to view in advance, the pair get off to a rocky start as Koji uses the cafe as a haven from his temporary accommodation, nursing a single cup of tea in his pristine three-piece, while Kate laments his status as a “scrounger”, living off her hard-earned wages. When it becomes apparent that Koji is a trained doctor but cannot work here while he is seeking asylum, the pair strike up an agreement of free food for Koji in return for informal consultations, which bring in more cafe customers. Happy days: Koji gets to eat and Kate gets to have her icy prejudices slowly thawed by his unwavering good nature and illegal practice. It’s as if the Good Immigrant had never been published.

Read the feature in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 18/03/20]