Surviving the Virus: My Brother and Me

Rating 8.2
Streamer BBC iPlayer
Seasons 1
Episodes 1 x 60 mins

After a long hard week of stressing about the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s quite unlikely that you’ll see a documentary about it, and go, ‘oh that looks like nice relaxing evening telly!’ But, we’re here to try and persuade you to watch it anyway.

Charming and very likeable twin doctors, Chris and Xand van Tulleken, lead us through their experience of joining the frontlines battling the virus through its peak earlier this year, and it makes for very interesting and emotional watching. As is usually the case, we get to meet and follow the stories of a few patients, including Xand himself, who describe in detail not only the physical effects of the disease, but the mental. Whilst it’s obviously not the most cheerful or uplifting thing you’ll watch this week, it will probably be the most helpful. It’s also a great reminder of why we stood and clapped every Thursday in the spring, and is a great celebration of our country’s care workers. Also, pre-warning: you will cry, so get a box of tissues ready.

In The Times, Carol Midgley calls the documentary ‘extraordinary watching.’  She says: ‘The programme was more interesting than the title suggested, ’ and in fact believes it is ‘the best documentary the brothers have done.’ Lucy Mangan in the Guardian says that the programme ‘covered a lot of factual and emotional ground, but it is the sight of people with the humility to stay open, the wit to learn, the ability to make connections and the scientific training to help them synthesise information, theorise, adapt and innovate that stay in the mind when the credits roll.’ It seems that watching doctors admit they don’t know all the answers is a definite positive, as both Midgley and Mangan mentioned it being a relatable and warm factor of the show. The Telegraph’s Anita Singh agrees, calling Surviving the Virus, ‘a clear, compassionate and helpful film.’

So, if the masses of not very clear information over recent months has you completely lost, this might provide a bit of comfort. Not only in showing the amazing work of our hospital staff, but in showing that they are still working it all out too.

First shown August 2020.

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