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Breathtaking viewers have 'tears streaming' and 'blood boiling' over Covid drama starring Joanne Froggatt

The series is set during the first wave of the pandemic in 2020

Joanne Froggatt in ITV's Breathtaking
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
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ITV's chilling new Covid-19 drama, Breathtaking, premiered on Monday night, leaving viewers with their "blood boiling" and "tears streaming" as they watched the three-parter. 

The series, which is based on Rachel Clarke's memoir and co-written by Line of Duty's Jed Mercurio, stars Joanne Froggatt as Dr Abbey Henderson, an acute medicine consultant working on the frontlines during the first wave of the pandemic. 

WATCH: Joanne Froggatt stars in ITV’s Covid drama Breathtaking

The drama sparked an emotional reaction from viewers, with many reminded of the horrors faced by NHS staff during the early days of the health crisis. 

One person wrote: "Watching ITV new drama #BREATHTAKING. We all 'know' how bad the situation was for frontline NHS services, but when you see an accurate representation like this, it becomes horrifying. It's incredibly moving. Can't believe I'm sat watching with tears streaming," while another added: "Watching #BREATHTAKING and feeling my blood beginning to boil.......this is going to be bigger than anything we've seen before. What on earth did we put our medical profession through?"

JOANNE FROGGATT as Abbey in Breathtaking© ITV
Joanne Froggatt stars as Abbey in Breathtaking

A third viewer was equally as enraged, writing: "Only a few minutes into ITV #BREATHTAKING and my blood is boiling with rage."

Other viewers praised the series as a powerful must-watch. "Two episodes in of #Breathtaking and it's equal parts heartbreaking to watch, and blood-boiling. It's a must-watch, in my opinion; a hard-watch, potentially triggering, but a must-watch," penned one person, while another added: "#Breathtaking the most powerful television I have watched. Unbelievable this is in our times."

Some viewers were forced to take a break from watching the drama during its second episode, which features some upsetting scenes. One person wrote: "I've had to pause it 3x to collect my own breath... Tears pouring. Outstanding work ... hard to watch," while another remarked: "Halfway through ep 2 of #BREATHTAKING. Had to pause it for a bit just for a break. Such a hard watch."

For those yet to catch up on episode one, the series is set in 2020, weeks before the UK's first national lockdown, and follows Dr Abbey Henderson and her team as they struggle with the first wave of coronavirus patients. 

PHILIP ARDETTI aa Metin Ozkul in Breathtaking© ITV
Viewers praised the harrowing series

The synopsis continues: "Running out of PPE, staff, and beds, Abbey is forced to make difficult healthcare decisions as her colleagues begin to be infected with Covid-19. When lockdown is finally imposed, the pandemic stretches Abbey and the team to their limits as they confront government policy in relation to care home discharges and inadequate PPE.

"They try their best to save patients but are forced to endure the trauma of loss and tragedy caused by Covid-19. As winter arrives, a new wave hits the hospital, this time with Covid-19 deniers surfacing too, which causes the team to reach their breaking point. Scarred and enraged, Abbey cannot maintain her silence any longer and decides to risk everything by speaking out."

JOSDPH CHARLES as Archie Williams,DONNA BANYA as Emma,JOANNE FROGGETT as Abbey and BHAV JOSHI as Ant in Breathtaking © ITV
The series is set during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic

Ahead of the series premiere, Joanne spoke about what it means to have played the role of Abbey, who is a fictional character based on both "Rachel's experiences during the pandemic but also those of many other doctors and nurses". 

"I'm filled with gratitude to have been involved with Breathtaking," she said. "That I was trusted to play Abbey. I feel really honoured to be able to be a small part of telling this story that I think is so important. It has given me a real renewed sense of gratitude for life."

Breathtaking is available to watch on ITVX.

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