From ER to Grey’s Anatomy, the US has delivered some seriously impressive heavy-hitting medical dramas down the years and another thrilling take on life in the emergency room is heading our way this week – Code Black.
Gritty, emotionally charged and relentless, Code Black is based on the busiest ER in America and exposes the incredible pressure and limited resources doctors and nurses are dealing with every single day just to keep people alive.
Marcia Gay Harden and Raza Jaffrey star in the new series on Watch (BT TV channel 311), which premieres on Thursday, October 29 at 9pm.
We caught up with one of the show’s stars – Luiz Guzmán to find out why we should be tuning in.
This isn’t ER or Grey’s Anatomy 2.0
“I think Code Black lives up to its own expectations. I think of it as a different breed, different set of circumstances, it’s a different kind of environment. I think our show is a little grittier.”
Code Black has the medical profession’s seal of approval
“When you hear from other medical people who have seen the show and they say, ‘that’s really how it is!’ and ‘that’s really how it goes down’, you know you’re doing a pretty good job. We know we’re in the right ball park of trying to portray that reality.”
The show asks the questions we all want answered
“This show really looks at what these people go through mentally and emotionally, either saving someone’s life or when someone dies on their watch
“I have an incredible amount of respect for those people. You might see 20 to 40 seriously injured people a day. One day you might save 20 people. One day you might lose 2 or 3 people. But you have to keep it moving.
“You might only get a few seconds to emotionalise what happened and then somebody else comes in and you have to jump into that. That really does happen.
“I think people should watch this show because it gives you an insight into these people. How do they deal with this? How do they deal with people dying? How do they live with themselves? This is something that you can’t let it get to you. It’s real.
“You are going to save people and lose people, but somewhere along the line, there’s a sense of humour, there’s poetic justice, there’s sadness – we’re supposed to feel these things, we’re humans. But as a profession, you have to move on and keep it moving.”
The cast actually learned on the job
“We do have doctors and nurses working with us, the procedures are explained to us and we learn a lot. Put it this way, I have enough hours to be certified as an emergency medical technician, according to the doctors. I did have to go through medical training for a couple of weeks and we learned about blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen levels of people, how to administer an IV – it’s pretty interesting.
“It gets pretty messy as well. You just handle it. You’re in the moment and you deal with it – that comes with the job. That’s what you signed up for.”
The show might change attitudes to health care
“I hope it does. In the US, I think we need to be in a better place to service people. I think it’s a shame, people work all their lives and they have to shovel to pay for medication when they need it and wait three months to see a doctor.
“And when they hear over the telephone that they don’t qualify for this service because your plan doesn’t cover it… and to only deal with these things as a matter of life and death, I think that’s wrong.”
Code Black airs on Watch on Thursdays at 9pm from October 29 on Watch (BT TV Channel 311).
Watch is one of the 28 extra entertainment channels available on BT TV.