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The Flu That Killed 50 Million (2018) More Deadly Than War
How the flu pandemic of 100 years ago affected every corner of the world.
Christopher Eccleston narrates a docudrama about the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed more than 50 million people. Told using powerful personal testimony.
It is 1918 and the end of WWI. Millions have died, and the world is exhausted by war. But soon a new horror is sweeping the world, a terrifying virus that will kill more than fifty million people - the Spanish flu.
Narrated by Christopher Eccleston, the film also asks whether, a century later, the lessons learnt in 1918 might help us fight a future global flu pandemic.
Using dramatic reconstruction and eyewitness testimony from doctors, soldiers, civilians and politicians, this one-off special brings to life the onslaught of the disease, the horrors of those who lived through it and the efforts of the pioneering scientists desperately looking for the cure.
More people died in the so called ‘Spanish Flu’ of 100 years ago, than perished in World War One. It even killed more than the bubonic plague, yet in many parts of the world it is virtually forgotten about.
Hospitals struggled to respond to the sheer number of sick patients.
We hear how otherwise healthy soldiers returning safely from war would be dead within three or four days, how whole families would be wiped out in a week and how the authorities in different parts of the world struggled to cope with looking after the sick and burying their dead on such a huge scale.
The docudrama looks through the archives and traces its emergence and spread through every continent. We hear real and dramatised testimony from people who lived through it (some still alive today) in countries like South Africa, Britain, France, America and New Zealand.
The documentary presents a hypothesis, based on years of work in the area, on where it may have all begun and how we might prevent it from happening again.