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New BBC drama shaped by Warwick expertise

  • Brand-new BBC Radio 4 drama about antibiotic resistance informed by expertise from University of Warwick
  • Professor Chris Dowson played integral part of scientific advisor for programme
  •  Resistance - written by author Val McDermid and starring Gina McKee – tells story of uncontrollable epidemic of a drug-resistant disease

The rise of antibiotic resistance is at the heart of a brand-new BBC drama, written by renowned author Val McDermid – and shaped by scientific expertise from the University of Warwick.


Airing on BBC Radio 4 in March, Resistance is a three-part story about an epidemic of a drug-resistant disease – and was informed by Professor Chris Dowson from the School of Life Sciences, the scientific advisor for the programme.

Professor Dowson - who is part of the Warwick Antimicrobial Interdisciplinary Centre – played an integral part in the creation of this drama, which tells us how antibiotic resistance can affect all of us.

Starring Gina McKee, Resistance follows Zoe Meadows, a journalist at a music festival in the North East of England.

A mystery illness erupts at the festival and nobody’s quite sure how it’s travelling. As the drama unfolds, listeners will hear how the disease becomes an uncontrollable epidemic, highlighting many of the latest challenges the scientific and medical community is facing in real life.

Coupling imaginative drama with scientific fact, Resistance is a warning that antibiotic resistance is a real threat to the safety of the world.

Professor Dowson and colleagues at Warwick are working to mitigate that threat, through the discovery of new effective antimicrobials, research into why certain bugs resist drugs, and the exploration of alternative antimicrobial therapies.

Professor Dowson comments on the importance of telling the public about research into antibiotic resistance:

“Communicating the seriousness of increasing antimicrobial resistance to a wide audience is of vital importance, and this radio drama is a powerful tool to help us do that. Bringing scientific research to a creative project like Resistance was a uniquely enjoyable and inspiring experience.

“The discovery of new antibiotics that are effective against the most resistant strains of bacteria is challenging. We need public support and advocacy to help change how we use our dwindling supply of current antibiotics (both in humans and animals) and all importantly in new models to fund the discovery of antibiotics that will sidestep resistance.”

Val McDermid comments on the science in the story:

“Drama makes the science behind Resistance impossible to ignore because it puts us in the shoes of those who are affected. Radio drama in particular is intimate and immediate and nimble - it can react quickly to events because we don't need to build sets and design costumes.”

Resistance will air on 3, 10 and 17 March at 2.15pm on BBC Radio 4 – click here to listen.

28 February 2017

Further information:

Luke Walton, International Press Officer

+44 (0) 7824 540 863

+44 (0) 2476 150 868

L dot Walton dot 1 at warwick dot ac dot uk