Teddington’s award-winning writer and former junior doctor Jed Mercurio, who helped created Bodyguard and Line of Duty is one of the people behind a new ITV drama called BREATHTAKING.
The three-part series is described as a ‘searing, thought provoking and poignant account of an NHS doctor in the ‘eye of the storm’ during the early days of the COVID pandemic.
The drama stars Joanne Froggatt in the role of a frontline hospital consultant based on doctor-writer Rachel Clarke’s unflinching personal memoir of the greatest public health crisis in living memory, adapted for television by Rachel Clarke and former junior hospital doctors Jed Mercurio and Prasanna Puwanarajah.
The drama, filmed in Northern Ireland, has been directed by Craig Viveiros.
Jed Mercurio, who is a Patron of Teddington’s Landmark Arts Centre, said: “Everyone at HTM Television has felt privileged to dramatise Rachel Clarke’s hauntingly illuminating memoir of health workers struggling to cope with the extraordinary challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I’m honoured to have collaborated with Rachel and Prasanna on this important drama, and thrilled to be working with a cast led by Joanne Froggatt and crew led by director Craig Viveiros.”
The series is produced by Mercurio’s independent production company, HTM Television, which has been responsible for producing Trigger Point, DI Ray, Bloodlands and the BAFTA-nominated factual drama Stephen.
On completion of filming in May Joanne Froggatt said: “I feel truly honoured to be playing Dr Abbey Henderson in Breathtaking, based on Dr Rachel Clarke’s beautifully written, poignant and shocking book of the same name.
“When I first read the incredible scripts they moved me to tears on many occasions. I felt so passionately that I had to be a part of telling this story, the real story, of what was really happening behind the closed doors of the hospitals during the pandemic.
“Our NHS staff are nothing less than absolute heroes in my eyes, and I hope telling this story goes a little way towards us understanding their truth, their lived experience and honouring their unbelievable commitment and sacrifice on behalf of us all.”
Set in a fictional big-city hospital, the drama narrates how frontline medical staff endured fear and frustration as they desperately tried to save the lives of coronavirus patients.
The drama is based on Rachel Clarke’s own experiences as a doctor working on the NHS frontline during the pandemic. No date has been fixed for broadcast.
Rachel is an author of three Sunday Times bestselling books of which Dear Life was shortlisted for the 2020 Costa Biography Award.
Your Life in My Hands documents life as a Junior Doctor working on the frontline. Breathtaking was acclaimed as “a searing insider’s account of being a doctor during the tsunami of coronavirus deaths” (The Independent) and “a beautiful, blistering account of a key moment in our history” (Sunday Times).
Rachel Clarke said: ““There is so much misinformation and rewriting of history around what really happened inside our hospitals during the pandemic.
“The truth is, NHS staff gave everything they had in impossible conditions that sometimes cost them their lives. It is an honour to try and depict the courage and decency of my NHS colleagues on screen, and I’m so grateful to ITV and HTM Television for giving me the chance to show the public the truth.”