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Author of ITV drama based on true story ‘witnessed horrors first hand’ during Covid pandemic

Author of ITV drama based on true story ‘witnessed horrors first hand’ during Covid pandemic

Palliative care doctor Rachel Clarke is the brains behind this hit series

Four years on, the devastating realities of the Covid-19 pandemic can sometimes seem somewhat of a fever dream.

For the average UK citizen, we endured numerous national lockdowns, remained in 'bubbles' - only contacting those that lived in our homes - and were forced to undergo regular testing to evade the dreaded virus.

However, for those working on the medical frontline, the pandemic was an entirely different, drastically more devastating and, at times, life-threatening story.

NEIL HALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

And no one is more aware of that than palliative care doctor Rachel Clarke, who spent the majority of 2020 surrounded by fatally ill patients, watching her colleagues fight to survive, rationing PPE and praying for the discovery of an effective vaccine.

Documenting the NHS's battle against Covid-19 every step of the way, 52-year-old Rachel has since written a best-selling book, exposing the realities of the pandemic.

She'd kept a daily diary at the time, never intended for it to be made public, but upon witnessing the UK government 'misinform and lie' about safety measures, she felt it her duty to shed light on what exactly medical professionals were forced to endure.

Not only that, but the memoir - titled Breathtaking - has recently been adapted into a groundbreaking new ITV drama of the same name, with Downton Abbey actress Joanne Froggatt taking on Rachel's 'role', playing Dr Abbey Henderson.

Speaking about the new series and how it compares to her experience, Rachel told press this week: "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."

The mother-of-two went on: "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."

The medic - who previously published two earlier books touching on the often relentless realities of being a doctor in the UK - told The Guardian that, during the pandemic's darkest days, she was welcoming patients into hospital knowing they'd never see their loved ones again.

Dr Rachel Clarke worked on the NHS frontline during the pandemic.

"The hideous, industrial scale of death after death after death - it was utterly horrific," she explained. "And I say that as someone who is very used to death and dying."

Rachel added that the hospital wards were like 'submarines you couldn't escape' after she witnessed patients dying alone when oxygen ran out during the first of the national lockdowns.

Actress Joanne - known for her appearance in much-loved ITV thriller Liar - also told press it was an honour to tell Rachel's harrowing story.

Breathtaking dropped onto ITV last night.

"When I first read the incredible scripts, they moved me to tears on many occasions," she told press.

"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.

Joanne continued: "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."

Featured Image Credit: ITV/Instagram/@doctoroxford

Topics: Covid-19, Health, ITV, TV And Film