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Junior Doctors: the BBC production team’s view

31 January 2012

Join us for episode 2 of Junior Doctors: Your Life in Their Hands—tonight at 9pm on BBC3—have your say during the show on our Twitter feed: ChelwestFT.

Join us for episode 2 of Junior Doctors: Your Life in Their Hands—tonight at 9pm on BBC3—have your say during the show on our Twitter feed: ChelwestFT.

Filming took place at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital over four months last year as an experienced BBC production and filming team followed eight junior doctors who started work in the hospital on 1 August.

We spoke to Assistant Producer Sam Vandervord and Producer Director Robb Leech who were part of the BBC crew filming in the hospital.

Sam

After months of meticulous planning before filming started on 1 August, when the first Wednesday in August finally dawned we were almost as nervous as the junior doctors about starting at Chelsea and Westminster.

The first series of BBC3's Junior Doctors: Your Life in Their Hands had been such a success that we knew we had a lot to live up to.

Thrown straight in at the deep end on nights, we soon found ourselves chasing our junior doctor around the clock, determined to get the best footage we could to show the reality of life as a junior doctor.

It became clear that neither of us had an easy job—the first year junior doctor we were following was on-call across the whole hospital, doing her first shift through the night.

It wasn't long before we found ourselves in awe of how well the juniors coped during their first weeks and months and we too became familiar with the job, enjoying the chance to chat and joke with patients, helping cheer them up a little.

But it was midway through filming when a cruel twist of fate saw one of the crew, Robb Leech, swap the role of Producer Director for patient...

Robb

I found myself in A&E, looking blearily up at the faces of doctors and nurses I had only weeks before been filming. I was suffering from a bout of pancreatitis and a dose of morphine was on the cards.

I remember trying to imagine myself from behind the lens of my camera, trying to see the scenario from my usual perspective. But I was a patient being treated by doctors—there was no escaping it!

When I woke up the following morning on Lord Wigram Ward, I opened my eyes to see a host of doctors at the foot of my bed. It was comforting to see one of our junior doctors amid the huddle.

I can't remember what was said but I closed my eyes easily with the knowledge that I was being looked after.

Having spent the previous six weeks with these junior doctors, from the moment they nervously walked through those big rotating doors, to the flash of pride at a first cannula well done, or a night out at a bar, I knew them as ordinary people but I trusted them with my life.