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BBC Two has commissioned two fast turnaround documentary programmes, each taking a look at Covid-19.

A Hospital Special sees the award-winning series going behind the scenes as the NHS responds to the Covid-19 pandemic with the number of cases in the UK rising sharply; and a two-part special from the long running science strand Horizon, investigates the scientific facts and figures behind the biggest public health crisis in living memory.

Patrick Holland, Controller, BBC Two, says: “These are unprecedented times and two of BBC Two’s premier brands are delivering unique programmes to help understand the crisis. The Horizon special will engage with the science behind the pandemic, exploring the complexities with unerring focus. RTS award-winning Hospital has been granted unique access to the frontline NHS response, allowing the audience to see the stark realities of the healthcare emergency. These are hugely important documentaries that couldn’t be more timely and necessary”

Hospital Special

Produced by Label1 Television for BBC Two, Hospital will be filmed across the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust in London, as staff look to contain and treat the virus in these exceptional and unprecedented times.

The Royal Free London is home to world-leading experts in infectious diseases who are battling the pandemic and helping to lead the way not just in the UK but globally.

Filmed, edited and broadcast within weeks, this film will capture the daily realities facing the NHS during this global health emergency. The film will also play an important role in keeping the public informed about the facts and how they can help the NHS and its staff meet the challenges in the weeks and months ahead.

Due to air in spring 2020, Hospital Special will bring the audience to the frontline of the NHS response to Covid-19, and will explore the evolving systems being employed in an attempt to deal with the increasingly complex pandemic, which is affecting the whole world.

The health and wellbeing of all involved – patients, hospital staff, film crew and the public – will be of paramount importance at all times and will be informed by national and international safety protocols. Broadcast of the programme is subject to completion of the filming which is being monitored daily as government guidance changes.

Emma Loach, BBC Commissioning Editor, Documentaries, says: “Now in its fifth series, Hospital has become one of the most important documentary series on television, combining the best of public service broadcasting with urgent storytelling about our most treasured institution. It is the perfect series within which to explore the pressures and challenges faced on the frontline by our health workers and underline the part we all have to play in ensuring that the NHS is not overrun as the number of cases increases.”

Lorraine Charker-Phillips, Head of Programmes at Label1 Television, says: “‘Hospital is the story of the health service in unprecedented times and none more unparalleled than now. We are grateful to be given access to the Royal Free London to show the incredible work NHS staff are doing as they try to deal with the rising number of people with Coronavirus, at a time when resources are already stretched.”

Caroline Clarke, Royal Free London Chief Executive, says: “Staff at the Royal Free London are in uncharted territory and, like other NHS trusts, treating increasing number of patients with Covid-19. We’re hearing amazing stories every day about how they are responding to the biggest challenge the NHS has ever faced. The Royal Free London, a centre with global expertise in dealing with infectious diseases, is at the heart of the national response. We look forward to working with the BBC and Label1 to offer the public an insight into how the NHS is responding, and crucially, what they can do to ensure they keep themselves and their families safe.”

Hospital Special was commissioned by Patrick Holland, Controller, BBC Two and Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries, History and Religion. The Commissioning Editors are Emma Loach and Hamish Fergusson. It is Executive Produced by Lorraine Charker-Phillips, Simon Dickson and Jackie Waldock for Label1 Television.

Coronavirus: A Horizon Special

In just over 100 days, Covid-19 has taken an unprepared world by storm. Infiltrating every corner of the globe, sending entire nations into lock-down, killing thousands and infecting countless more. Across the world we’ve seen governments scrambling to react, hospitals struggling to cope and an increasingly anxious public starting to panic.

The world’s media is awash with data, information and misinformation. But what are the facts? What is Covid-19 and why is this strain of Coronavirus so dangerous? What happens in our bodies when the virus attacks? What do the all the numbers really mean and how can we use them to find the truth about how many people have contracted the virus and plan for the future?

BBC Two’s Horizon – the longest running TV science strand in the world – will look behind the headlines, and explore the latest new research from the frontline of the medical fightback.

Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Science and Natural History, said: “Our understanding of this virus is evolving every day, and the Horizon team is working to bring viewers the very latest scientific research into the subject. At a time when we’re looking for answers, it’s never been more important to sort fact from fiction, and explain the latest scientific understanding behind the pandemic.”

Coronavirus: A Horizon Special was commissioned by Patrick Holland, Controller, BBC Two and Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Science and Natural History. The Commissioning Editor is Tom Coveney. It is Executive Produced by Helen Thomas for BBC Studios Science Unit.