'Hard to watch' - Viewers react to 'devastating' and 'brilliant' first episode of Breathtaking

Virgin Radio

20 Feb 2024, 10:50

Scenes from episode one of ITV's Breathtaking

Credit: ITV

The first episode of hard-hitting ITV drama Breathtaking - which focuses on NHS workers on the frontline when Covid-19 first hit - aired last night (19th February).

The three-part ITV medical drama is written by Dr Rachel Clarke, Prasanna Puwanarajah and Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio. It is based on Clarke's 2021 memoir and stars Joanne Froggatt.

Speaking with The Graham Norton Radio Show with Waitrose, former Downton Abbey actor Froggatt said: “The truth is, NHS staff gave everything they had in impossible conditions that sometimes lost them their lives.”

The opening episode shows a combination of news footage from the early months of 2020 and dramatised events, as acute medical consultant Dr Abbey Henderson (Froggatt) and her fellow NHS workers grow increasingly concerned as cases of a new coronavirus begin to quickly overwhelm the hospital at which they work.

The first instalment of the series highlights a lack of PPE, staff and beds in hospitals in the days before the first Covid-19 lockdown, as the situation grows more fraught and life-threatening.

Jed Mercurio posted on X (formerly Twitter): “As a former junior hospital doctor, I couldn’t be prouder of cowriting this 3-part drama paying tribute to the untold sacrifices of #NHS staff.”

Viewers also took to social media to share their thoughts. One wrote: “#BREATHTAKING is necessarily hard hitting. What those doctors and nurses faced on a daily basis was unprecedented. Many caught #COVID19 themselves, some developed #LongCovid, others went on to make the ultimate sacrifice and died. Our politicians didn’t act soon or hard enough.”

Another wrote: “Sending out my thoughts and love to our amazing Nurses watching this tonight. Hard to watch”

Someone else said: “Didn’t expect #BREATHTAKING to hit quite so hard a bring back so many memories from the pandemic”

One viewer commented: “10 minutes in and I’m already incandescent with rage”

Another viewer said: “BREATHTAKING is dreadfully brilliant. Transported me back to March 2020 and the fear I felt working in social care which pailed into insignificance compared to our marvellous, brave #NHS #Covid_19.”

A commenter said: “#Breathtaking on @itv is as devastating as I expected. Too many decisions from higher up without listening to frontline staff 😔”

Someone added: “#Breathtaking bringing back all the memories, making me angry all over again. I only work in general practice, but we had no masks, very few aprons....we had patients making aprons out of gardening sacks for us. The lack of direction from above outrageous.”

A viewer commented: “I wasn't going to watch #BREATHTAKING but I did. Those who were in charge of making vital decisions about providing PPE and tests, or profited in any way are hanging their heads in shame.”

Episode two of Breathtaking airs tonight (20th February) on ITV1, with the final episode airing tomorrow (21st February). The whole series is available to watch now on ITVX.