Sixteen years after being shot by Al-Qaeda, broadcast journalist and author Frank Gardner explores what it is like to suddenly become disabled, meeting others with life-changing injuries.
In 2004, BBC correspondent Frank Gardner was shot six times by Al-Qaeda gunmen whilst reporting on growing terrorist activity in Saudi Arabia. The bullets damaged his spinal nerves – at the age of 43 Frank was left partially paralysed and has used a wheelchair ever since.
Sixteen years later, Frank has never fully got used to being disabled. In this deeply personal film, he talks candidly about the effects his injuries have had on his life, work, relationships, and the way he views himself.
Disarmingly honest about revealing the ongoing physical indignities that have resulted from the attack, Frank nevertheless finds talking about his emotional response more difficult. Reflecting on his recovery, Frank says it was his wife, Amanda, who helped him most – but it was not without its impact on their relationship.
This film shows never-before-seen footage of the last report that Frank and cameraman Simon Cumbers were making just prior to the attack by Al-Qaeda, during which Simon lost his life, and Frank very nearly didn’t make it.
Exploring the way that others have responded to sudden, life-changing injuries, Frank meets Yasmin, a young woman who suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of a climbing accident. He also meets a military couple whose marriage has been affected by a life-changing injury, and Gerard, a young man living in Edinburgh who has paralysis in all four limbs as a result of a diving accident.
Travelling to report for the BBC from the Colombian rainforest, Frank comes to terms with the frustration of just how dependent on others he will always be.
Yet despite the considerable physical hardships he endures and knowing that the mental recovery after a life-changing injury can take years, he continues to live life to the full. Ultimately, he is really very happy, just being Frank.
Production credits: A Curious Films production for BBC. Director, Charlie Russell. Producer, Caroline Sciama. Executive Producer, Dov Freedman.