Review: Lancashire medics helped ITV's Covid documentary tug at the heartstrings

The past 12 months have been something like a horror movie, as a new feature-length documentary, 2020: The Story of Us (ITV, Tues, 9pm) made clear.

Directed by Oscar-winner Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland), this started using tropes from zombie movies – crackly news footage of the coming plague, shots of empty streets, politicians announcing lockdowns – but morphed into something more.

The stories of the people at the centre of the fight against coronavirus were sensational enough without the need for 28 Days Later techniques – from the dental nurse drafted in to help look after Covid patients to the London bus driver “being breathed on by hundreds of people each day” with no protection.

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Then there was Royal Preston Hospital critical care consultant Shond Laha, who was “waiting for the tsunami to hit”, Blackpool-based paramedic David Leahy, and poet and children’s author Michael Rosen, who came close to death when he contracted Covid-19.

Shond Laha, a critical care consultant at Royal Preston Hospital, featured in an ITV documentary about the Covid crisis

Some of the scenes really stay with you, from David in a ‘space helmet’ helping him breathe through Covid, to Prof Hugh Montgomery, struggling with grief after the death of his teenage son – drowned on a snorkelling trip during the brief summer window when lockdown lifted, one of those “Covid deaths that’s not due to Covid, but if Covid hadn’t been there, it wouldn’t have happened”.

It becomes a meditation on grief; for the dead, for those left behind, for missed opportunities and birthdays and anniversaries.

“There’s this whole period of life that’s a complete blur,” says Rosen. We all have that sensation, after a year of weirdness, but The Story of Us, gave a moment of clarity.

Grace (ITV, Sun, 8pm) featured a loner cop (John Simm), a picturesque setting (Brighton) and a knotty case – from the first episode, I reckon it could be a long-runner in the Morse model.

Blackpool-based paramedic David Leahy also featured in 2020: The Story of Us

Taskmaster (Channel 4, Thurs, 9pm) series 10 only ended in December, yet here we are at the start of series 11, and to be honest it couldn’t come soon enough. An hour to revel in creative nonsense.

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