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The real-life story behind BBC's The Responder

Martin Freeman leads the cast of the new drama

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Francesca Shillcock
Francesca ShillcockSenior TV & Film Writer
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The Responder on BBC has received high praise from critics and audiences watching a home thanks to its stellar cast and powerful plot.

MORE: The Responder: viewers all have same reaction after episode two

Martin Freeman, star of Sherlock and The Office, plays police urgent response officer Chris Carson who is passionate about his job, but soon realises the effect it's having on his mental health. Many are wondering if the story is a true story – we found out…

WATCH: BBC's The Responder - the official trailer

Is The Responder based on a true story?

The story of Chris Carson and his time working as a first response officer is not technically a true story, however, there are many elements of truth to the drama.

For starters, the script was written by a former police officer, Tony Schumacher, who worked as an urgent responder. While working on the beat, Tony had many nights on shift chasing criminals and responding to critical call outs.

MORE: Meet The Responder actress Elizabeth Berrington

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martin freeman bbc© Photo: BBC

Martin Freeman as Chris Carson

In addition, Tony left the force because he was suffering with the mental toll the job had. So while the character of Chris is a work of fiction, the bare bones of his story came from Tony's real-life experience.

The former PC turned writer explained Chris' story was his "to a degree". "I was a police responder who was out in the rain at one o'clock in the morning, two in the morning, three in the morning, chasing people up and down alleyways and running over rats."

"I quit the police because, and there's no getting away from it, I was cracking up in the police force. I was really struggling mentally and I needed to get away and find myself but I also needed to buy dog food during that period so I became a taxi driver. It was during that time that I learnt to become a writer."

responder 2© Photo: BBC

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What is The Responder about?

The synopsis reads: "Whilst trying to keep his head above water both personally and professionally, Chris is forced to take on a new rookie partner Rachel.

"Both soon discover that survival in this high pressure, relentless, night-time world will depend on them either helping or destroying each other."

responder 3© Photo: BBC

The script of The Responder was written by a former urgent response officer

What have the viewers said about The Responder?

The police drama has sparked plenty of reaction online from TV fans. One person was particularly loving Martin Freeman's performance: "Enjoyed #MartinFreeman in loads of roles but this might be his best."

Another said: "Gritty, dark, authentic, gripping. Superb acting from Martin Freeman and the casting on point," as a third tweeted: "#TheResponder on @BBCOne starring Martin Freeman is brilliant! He's so convincing as a Liverpudlian and I see him with new eyes! Fantastic performance!"

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