‘Downton’ star Joanne Froggatt leads ‘Line of Duty’ writer’s new Covid drama

Joanne Froggatt has revealed her next television series.

Best known for her role as Anna Bates in all six seasons of Downton Abbey, the English actress will lead the cast of ITV’s Breathtaking.

The three-part drama is described as “a searing, thought-provoking and poignant account of an NHS doctor in the eye of the storm during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Set in a fictional big-city hospital in 2020, Breathtaking explores how frontline medical staff endured fear and frustration as they desperately tried to save the lives of coronavirus patients.

The series has been adapted by Dr Rachel Clarke with former junior hospital doctors Prasanna Puwanarajah and Jed Mercurio, creator of Line of Duty and Bodyguard.

Breathtaking was filmed in Belfast in Northern Ireland earlier this year, with Craig Viveiros directing.

He previously directed Joanne Froggatt in ITV’s hit thriller Angela Black a couple of years ago.

“I’m delighted to once again be working with Joanne Froggatt,” said Viveiros, praising “her ability to effortlessly bring the humanity and empathy to any character she portrays.”

“I feel truly honoured to be playing Dr Abbey Henderson in Breathtaking, based on Dr Rachel Clarke’s beautifully written, poignant and shocking book of the same name,” said Froggatt.

“When I first read the incredible scripts they moved me to tears on many occasions. 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,” she added.

“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.”

Here’s a first look at Froggatt in character as frontline hospital consultant Dr Abbey Henderson:

Breathtaking is based on Dr Rachel Clarke’s unflinching personal memoir of the greatest public health crisis in living memory.

“There is so much misinformation and rewriting of history around what really happened inside our hospitals during the pandemic,” commented Clarke.

“The truth is, NHS staff gave everything they had in impossible conditions that sometimes cost them their lives. 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.”

Breathtaking will premiere in the UK on ITV1 and streaming on ITVX later this year.

The complete Downton Abbey box set is available on DVD on Amazon.