Val McDermkd took part in a workshop with scientists & medical experts before writing the Radio 4 thriller “Resistance.”
by BRIAN FERGUSON
Leading Scottish crime writer Val McDermid has written a new BBC drama about an apocalyptic epidemic – based on the real-life concerns of scientists.
Their concerns about the rise of antiobiotic resistance across the planet will be replayed out in the Radio serial about a mystery illness which engulfs a music festival.
McDermid took part in a two-day workshop attended by scientists, academics, writers and radio producers which she says left her “profoundly shocked.” Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England, was among those to give a presentation,
Fife-born author McDermid, who is best known for her series of books on the criminal psychologist Tony Hill, pitched the idea of an “uncontrollable epidemic.”
Gina McKee, star of Our Friends in the North and Notting Hill, plays a journalist caught up in the outbreak when she attends the music festival in the north-east of England.
The three-part serial, Resistance, will be broadcast on 3, 10 and 17 March on Radio 4.
A new radio drama by Val McDermid highlights the worrying prospect of antibiotic resistance becoming a global epidemic.
Imagine a world in which even the slightest scratch could be lethal. Cancer treatments, including chemotherapy, and organ transplants are no longer possible. Even simple surgery is too risky to contemplate, while epidemics triggered by deadly bacteria have left our health services helpless.
It is science fiction, of course – but only just. According to many doctors and scientists, the rise of antibiotic resistance across the planet could soon make this grim scenario a reality. And if it does, humans will have to face up to challenges that would once have seemed unthinkable. The question is: when – and how – might this horrific medical ordeal unfold for the human race?
We face returning to a time when every form of surgery was life-threatening
It is a question that crime writer Val McDermid will attempt to answer next month in an unusual way – in a three-part radio drama, Resistance, which is to be aired on Radio 4. In it she will put dramatic flesh on scientific warnings of the hazards we now face because of our past misuse of antibiotics.
“We are looking down a barrel, into a world that was like the one we had when there were no antibiotics,” says McDermid. “We face returning to a time when every form of surgery was life-threatening, because every form of surgery carries with it the danger of infections. Even going to the dentist to have a tooth out will have risks involved.”
Val McDermid, chair of this year’s judges, hails a selection that crosses divide between arts and sciences.
Crime writer Val McDermid, who is chairing the judges for this year’s Wellcome book prize, has criticised the divide between arts and sciences in the UK’s education system, speaking out as the longlist for the £30,000 award was announced.
In an interview with the Guardian about the longlist, which identifies the best science writing across fiction and nonfiction, The Wire in the Blood author said: “Science is clearly something that we need to be focusing our energy on, because that is where the economic future of the country lies and we really should be driving our education towards it – but that does not mean we should turn our back on the arts.”
Citing her own education in Scotland, McDermid said she feared the modern curriculum left little opportunity for students to be creative and investigate things that engage their interest “for the joy of it”.
“I have concerns about what is happening in education,” added the author, who has a son at school. “Everything is so curriculum-led now that there is very little opportunity for teachers to encourage students to go off and discover things for themselves.”
Developments in education, she added, meant that the Wellcome prize – one of the richest in the UK – was more important than ever because it focuses on making science accessible through both fiction and nonfiction.
The 12 books chosen for the 2017 longlist are split between seven factual and five fiction titles, ranging from Victorian gothic in Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent to Jo Marchant’s Cure, which investigates how the mind can cure the body. French novelist Maylis de Kerangal’s blow-by-blow account of a heart transplant in Mend the Living is also longlisted, and is the first foreign-language book to be considered for the award.