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Frank Gardner talks candidly about nearly dying in terrorist attack

The new documentary will show his day-to-day life

Emmy Griffiths

Frank Gardner is set to star in BBC Two's Being Frank: The Frank Gardner Story, where he shares his day-to-day life with a disability, and how he is determined to continue an active lifestyle following the life-changing injuries that were inflicted in a terrorist attack in 2004. 

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The journalist was left partially paralysed in the legs after being shot six times in an al-Qaida attack while reporting from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. The cameraman who was with him at the time, Simon Cumbers, was killed. Frank needed 14 surgeries and spent seven months in the hospital before he returned to work in 2005. 

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Frank opens up about his injuries in the new documentary

Speaking about his near-death experience, Frank told The Times that he believed his training in the Territorial Army saved him. He explained: "It allowed me to pare down all my thoughts to what I needed to do to survive. I needed to let the British embassy know I was down. I also thought, ‘Right, I have got to stay conscious. If I lose consciousness, I’m not going to come back up.'"  

He continued: "I didn’t realise how close I was to dying. I was rescued with less than two hours to live." 

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In the new documentary, he explained that he wanted viewers to see his day-to-day struggles with his injuries to encourage others in a similar situation, saying: "I want to... inspire others who have disabilities - often hidden - that might inhibit them from doing things. People might think, ‘Well, if he can do that. . .’ or, ‘Who knew he had a colostomy bag? Who knew he copes with pain on a daily basis?’ 

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"I’m not trying to big myself up but these are hidden obstacles. The wheelchair is only the tip of the iceberg." 

The man who shot Frank and Simon, Adel al-Dhubaiti, was arrested and executed in 2016. Speaking about the man in 2014, Frank told The Telegraph: "He is completely unrepentant. He has never said sorry. He is still in the mindset that he had when he attacked us. So forgiveness is not really an option.

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Frank with the Queen in 2011

"It’s not like this man’s parents have written to me or anyone saying, ‘Please forgive him.’ No one has apologised... I don’t want to see this guy. Why would I? What am I going to get from it? The man’s soul is dead." 

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