It’s been more than two years since Line Of Duty’s season six finale landed on our screens, and now the show’s creator Jed Mercurio has finally announced his next screenwriting project.
Jed has joined forces with doctor-writer Rachel Clarke and Line Of Duty star Prasanna Puwanarajah to create Breathtaking, an ITV drama chronicling the experience of an NHS doctor during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is based on Rachel’s memoir of the same name.
The show will be set in a fictional city hospital, and will narrate “how frontline medical staff endured fear and frustration as they desperately tried to save the lives of coronavirus patients”, ITV said.
Joanne Froggatt will play Dr Abbey Henderson, a frontline hospital consultant grappling with the Covid crisis
The Downton Abbey star said she felt “truly honoured” to be taking on the role, and described Rachel’s memoir as “beautifully written, poignant and shocking”.
“When I first read the incredible scripts they moved me to tears on many occasions,” she added. “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.”
“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.”
Both Jed and Prasanna, who appeared in The Crown’s fifth season as the former BBC journalist Martin Bashir and also starred in Amazon’s Ten Percent, have experience of the healthcare system as former hospital doctors.
The show will be directed by Craig Viveiros, who previously worked with Joanne on the ITV drama Angela Black, and produced by Hat Trick Mercurio, the company co-owned by Jed and Hat Trick Productions.
The Line Of Duty and Bodyguard creator said he felt “honoured to have collaborated with Rachel and Prasanna on this important drama”, while Prasanna described the experience as “a privilege”.
“Joanne, Craig and the cast and crew brought extraordinary commitment and skill to the work of doing justice to this account of the terrifying and extraordinary realities faced by NHS staff and patients in the Covid-19 pandemic, and we’re grateful to HTM and ITV for bringing this untold story to the widest possible audience,” he said.
Back in January, Line Of Duty’s Martin Compston, who plays AC-12’s Steve Arnott, claimed that the show’s cast and creator were “up for doing one more” season of the police drama.
“Me, Jed, Vicky and Adrian had a sit-down and a big conversation last year just to see if we all honestly wanted to go again,” he told GQ.
Martin explained that while he “liked the way it wrapped up” at the end of season six, when the identity of the corrupt police officer ‘H’ was finally revealed, he and his colleagues “had a long talk about it and we all said that we’d be up for doing one more. One last one.
“So that’s where we’re at. That talk was in April  and from then nothing’s changed. All we’ve said is that we’d be up for doing one more at some point but none of us have signed on.”
An airdate for Breathtaking is yet to be announced, although filming on the series has already completed.