Viewers have been given a first glimpse of a new TV drama by Nelson writer Jed Mercurio that follows the life of an NHS doctor during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Breathtaking is based on doctor-writer Rachel Clarke’s personal memoir of the greatest public health crisis in living memory. 

Filming for the three-part series was completed in Northern Ireland earlier this year.  It is set in a fictional big-city hospital and narrates how frontline medical staff endured fear and frustration as they desperately tried to save the lives of coronavirus patients.

The drama stars Joanne Froggatt in the role of a frontline hospital consultant. 

Jed worked as a junior hospital physician for three years before leaving to pursue a full-time writing career, going on to pen hit shows Line of Duty, The Bodyguard and Triggerpoint.

Speaking during filming, Jed 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 (Puwanarajah) on this important drama, and thrilled to be working with a cast led by Joanne Froggatt and crew led by director Craig Viveiros.”  

Lancashire Telegraph:

Craig said: “I’m honoured to be working with Jed, Rachel and Prasanna on this timely, important project. After reading the first few pages of the script, I knew this was a project I wanted to be involved with. Its unique, bold and unflinching take on life on the front line during the pandemic was immediately captivating. 

“I’m delighted to once again be working with Joanne Froggatt, her ability to effortlessly bring the humanity and empathy to any character she portrays meant she was the perfect performer to bring Abbey to life.”

“Shooting a large part of the miniseries in long, real-time sequences should make for captivating viewing and allow the audience to be immersed in the struggles our real-life heroes faced in the wards and emergency departments across the country, day after day, during the pandemic. This story is a chance for their voices and sacrifices to be seen and heard.”

Joanne 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.”

Dr 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.” 

Breathtaking does not yet have an official release date but is expected to air on ITV in the coming weeks.