Review: BBC's documentary series Ambulance knows the real trauma is in emotion, not blood and guts

This programme contains scenes some viewers may find upsetting, we were warned at the start of the new series of Ambulance (BBC1, Thurs, 9pm) this week.

Saturday, 14th August 2021, 3:45 pm

And boy, were they right, but it wasn’t blood and gore that was so traumatic, it was the emotion, as the ambulance crews dealt with Covid-19, heart attacks and falls in Liverpool, Wirral and Greater Manchester.

Take 94-year-old Lill, for example. A chatterbox, and an outrageous flirt, she has fallen from her bed and possibly broken her hip. She lives on her own and her daughter – who lives in Stavanger, Norway – can’t get home because coronavirus has grounded the flights.

And yet here she is, offering the paramedics a sirloin steak from her freezer and her spare change for a collection box, as she is loaded into the ambulance.

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Paramedic Emily featured in a new series of the BBC documentary series Ambulance this week, following paramedics treating patients across Merseyside, Cheshire and Greater Manchester

Meanwhile, the crews tramp in and out of houses where entire families have Covid-19, protected only by a facemask and a thin plastic apron, and use both medical expertise and their empathy to treat those in need.

There was a little too much ‘Scousers are the salt of the earthiness’ about it, as if the rest of the country were unscathed by the pandemic, but the paramedics are so empathetic and human that you warm to them, and feel their pain when their calls don’t have a good outcome.

Meanwhile, there is an emotional gut-punch at the end of this first episode that leaves you more upset than any injury could, and reminds you we are fragile creatures that can simply break at any time, or be so lonely that you welcome the human contact a 999 call can bring.

So check on your neighbours, hug your family, and thank your lucky stars we still – for now – have the NHS.

Ghosts (BBC1, Mon, 8.30pm) is back and maintains its place as the best sitcom of recent years. You’ll laugh at some old school wordplay, and get something in your eye by the end of episode six.

I watched Celebrity Masterchef (BBC1, Mon, Tues, Fri, 9pm) on iPlayer, so I could fast forward through Gregg Wallace’s gurning and groaning, and concentrate on Su Pollard’s ‘food’.