Breathtaking: New Covid-19 drama based on doctor's memoir coming to ITV

  • ITV Calendar presenter Lara Rostron sits down with Joanne Froggatt to talk about her new drama Breathtaking

A new ITV drama, based on real notes kept by an NHS consultant during the Covid-19 pandemic, highlights the fear and frustration those on the frontline felt during the greatest public health crisis in living memory.

Set in a fictional big-city hospital, Breathtaking follows Dr Abbey Henderson - played by Golden Globe award-winning actress Joanne Froggatt - in her daily work as she tries to navigate the early months of 2020.

She told ITV News: "The ethos behind the drama is to make it the most realistic portrayal that we possibly could.

"It's not just a re-telling of Covid, this is the inside story of what was really happening behind the closed doors of the hospitals - the story we as the public were fortunate enough not to have dealings with."

For that reason, every patient case on the show is based on a real person, and clips from the news and government press conferences are woven in throughout.

Every patient case on the show is based on a real person. Credit: ITV

Froggatt, from North Yorkshire and who is best known for starring in Downtown Abbey, described it as "surreal" having to revisit some of the things we all had to do during the pandemic, like wearing a face mask.

"I realise for a lot of people it will be incredibly triggering to watch depending on their experiences during the pandemic," she said, "but I would urge people if they're able to, to please not look away because this story is a story we should all be aware of."

The three-part series has been adapted for TV by writers Jed Mercurio (Line of Duty, Bodyguard, Trigger Point) and Prasanna Puwanarajah, who are also both former junior hospital doctors.

Froggatt said it was "surreal" having to re-visit the changes we made during the pandemic, like wearing a face mask. Credit: ITV

Doctor-writer Rachel Clarke, whose memoir of the same name inspired the series, 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."

Breathtaking starts Monday 19 February at 9pm on ITV1.

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