Dr Eva’s Great Escape: Who cares about new curtains when your next destination is divorce court?

TV review: This second series plays out like Room To Improve with a script by Werner Herzog

If Love Island is a celebration of sunshine, romance and youthful optimism, then season two of Dr Eva’s Great Escape (RTÉ One, Monday) is the solar opposite. With a baking Iberian backdrop placing us in the same meteorological zone as the ITV hormone-fest, the series chronicles Helsinki-born, Dublin-based weight loss guru Dr Eva Orsmond’s quest to relaunch her life by opening a “health hotel” in Portugal.

So far, so RTÉ property porn. But the show is also about the break-up of Eva’s 20-plus year marriage to Wyatt Orsmond. In addition to bricks and mortar drama, it thus follows, in riveting and heartbreaking fashion, the crumbling of a relationship, which falls apart slowly and then quickly.

“You don’t realise how complicated it is,” says Eva after the soon-to-be-former couple’s desire for an amicable split runs aground on the harsh rocks of reality. “Everyone hopes for a friendly divorce. A divorce is still a divorce.”

Viewers may be tempted to pick sides, yet this ultimately feels like folly. Wyatt is exasperated by what he regards as his spouse’s flightiness and her unwillingness to pick up a paintbrush and pitch in as they struggle to complete the hotel (which remains a husk by the end of the first episode).


Former Operation Transformation mentor Eva, for her part, feels Wyatt does not trust her with the hard-nosed end of the business. “I’ve been asking questions about finances,” she says. “This is not about that I don’t trust Wyatt. He is very intimidating, very patronising.”

Traditional property TV woes – are the windows big enough? Will the builders come in on budget? – are by this point a long way in the rear-view mirror. Instead, the second series of Dr Eva’s Great Escape – season one debuted a million years ago in January 2020 – plays out like Room To Improve with a script by Werner Herzog.

Eva and Wyatt came to Portugal after a trial separation. The irony is that their Lusitanian odyssey was hatched with the idea of patching up their marriage. Things have not gone to plan and this background of heartache makes the highs and lows of the property development feel inconsequential. Who cares about new curtains when your next destination is divorce court?

“I’m the saddest woman in the world,” Eva complains from lockdown in Portugal. “People look at me and think, ‘she has it all’. They don’t know what is happening behind the scenes.”

Ed Power

Ed Power

Ed Power, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about television and other cultural topics