Virus
Sarah Woods

Book cover image

Narrated By: , Hannah Daniel, Liam Williams, Ronan Summers

Duration: 1 hour and 9 minutes

What to expect

A love story, about flu.

It's January 1969, the winter after the summer of love, and Jill and David's fledgling relationship is about to be put to test by the outbreak of Hong Kong Flu. As they huddle under blankets together, full of flu, neither of them is aware of how this moment will impact them in both the near and distant future.

Over five episodes, we follow Jill’s story across five decades as she struggles with the highs and lows of life, love and viral infection. At the same time the story tracks the life of Hong Kong Flu – how, over 45 years, it traversed the globe, evolved and was ultimately superseded by new, more virulent strains, such as Swine Flu and now COVID-19. Using cutting edge science – of transmission, viral evolution and genetic predisposition – it tells the story of flu, and investigates the unique qualities of Jill's genome which make her a 'severe responder'. The human story at the heart of this drama underlines the deep connection we have to the viruses that survive through us, and how illness can shape the course of our lives.

First broadcast in 2014 under the title ‘My Life with Flu’, this programme has new resonance today in the time of coronavirus. It touches on many of the subjects that we are now all too familiar with – the ease of transmission, the way that some people react more severely than others to flu, how the body’s reaction to the flu virus creates a perfect climate in the lungs for pneumonia to develop, and flu’s deadly potential.

Cast and credits
Narrator.... Eiry Thomas
Jill/Polly.... Hannah Daniel
David.... Ronan Summers
John.... Liam Williams
Older Jill… Sharon Morgan
Older David… William Hope
Older John… Simon Armstrong
Doctor.... John Norton
Protestor/Yvette/Paramedic 2.... Eirlys Bellin
Minister/Paramedic 1/Doctor.... Alun Raglan

Directed by James Robinson
Produced in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
A BBC Cymru/Wales Production
First broadcast 27-31 October 2014

Genre

Modern & contemporary fiction, Family life fiction, Narrative theme: Environmental issues, Narrative theme: Social issues

Listen to a sample