Tonight, BBC America is rolling out the first two parts of a 14-part documentary series called 24 Hours In The ER, which follows emergency room crews at London’s King’s College Hospital. One of the heroes of the series is lesbian nurse Jen Du-Prat, a mother of two who lives with her wife and children in London.
Each episode of the documentary covers a single 24-hour period in the ER, and the BAFTA Award-winning camera crew didn’t pull any punches. Two minutes into the first episode, Jen and her team are treating a man who has been hit by a train. Apparently, the documentary team used 70 cameras, which explains how they were able to capture everything from the ambulance arrivals to the actual treatments of hundreds of patients to the reactions of family members. They even followed up with the survivors; the show boasts plenty of post-ER interviews with folks who were saved by the King’s College staff.
Jen is an immediately lovable character. She’s free with her smiles, ready for a laugh, firm when she needs to be, and wonderfully compassionate. There’s no such thing as an ER documentary without death, and here’s what Jen had to say about it when filmmakers interviewed her:
As soon as they die, [you have to accept] they’re gone. I must admit, I do talk to the bodies, though, when I’m laying them out. I think they could be watching. I’d hate for anyone to think I was treating them horribly! Do you know what I mean? Maybe it’s a getting-over-it mechanism, a coping mechanism. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve always done it. People die. It is upsetting. It’s horrible. But it’s a fact of life.
If you plan to watch 24 Hours In The ER, I have to warn you that it is reasonably graphic, and there’s lots of suffering, particularly from family members of the patients — but somehow it still manages to remain optimistic. And even humorous. Maybe it’s the interviews with the survivors, or the way the King’s Cross staff manages to find moments of peace in joy in the frenetic pace of life-saving. If hospital shows are your kind of thing, you will love it. And you’ll love Jen.
Here’s a full trailer:
24 Hours In The ER premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on BBC America. Will you be watching?