23 September 2020

Operations from two world-class research hospitals based on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus will be broadcast across four programmes on BBC Two every Tuesday during October. 

Series three of Surgeons: At the Edge of Life was filmed at Royal Papworth and Addenbrooke’s during 2019 and early 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic. 

Every hour-long episode will feature two operations - one from each hospital, showcasing some of the most advanced and complex surgery carried out anywhere in the world.

Footage was shot from fixed rigs within operating theatres in order not to distract the operating teams. Shots include close-ups of surgeons, anaesthetists and other members of the teams at work during the most critical moments of the operations. 

A highly complex lung operation, called a PTE, was filmed at Royal Papworth Hospital
The footage from within the operating theatres was obtained using rigged cameras

The procedures filmed in the series include a life-saving double lung transplant, cutting-edge neurosurgery and an 18-hour chest wall reconstruction involving teams from both NHS trusts. Interviews with multidiscplinary staff and patients reveal fascinating insights into these incredible achievements. 

Mr David Jenkins, Divisional Director for Surgery and Transplant at Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are thrilled that the outstanding work of our staff is to be broadcast on the BBC. We carry out complex heart and lung operations every day, with some of the best outcomes internationally and it is a great opportunity to show the public what we can achieve. 

“We are very grateful to the patients who took part in this filming for sharing their experiences at such a critical time in their lives.”

Mr James Wheeler, Divisional Director for Surgery and Colorectal Surgeon at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I am incredibly proud of the work undertaken by all our theatre staff here at Addenbrooke’s. The amazing operations highlighted in this series, which push the boundaries of medical possibilities, can only be achieved with a true team effort. 

“A heartfelt ‘thank you’ goes to our brave patients and their families for allowing in the cameras. We hope it brings hope to patients in similar circumstances, and inspires others thinking of entering this field.” 

Andrew Carrothers and David Jenkins are the surgeons who feature in episode one
Mr Andrew Carrothers from Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Mr David Jenkins from Royal Papworth Hospital both feature in episode one of ‘Surgeons: At the Edge of Life’

You can watch the first episode of Surgeons: At the Edge of Life on BBC Two on Tuesday 6 October at 21:00. The operations featured include an innovative pelvis and hip operation at Addenbrooke’s, which pushed the boundaries of medical science, and a pulmonary endarterectomy (PTE) at Royal Papworth, which is the only hospital in the UK to offer this technically demanding and extraordinary lung surgery. 

Find out more about the series