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TV Series Review #2: Surviving the Virus My Brother and Me

A brief overview of the TV series 'Surviving the Virus My Brother and Me' and my opinions of it.

September 2021
Iqra Ali


This documentary follows the famous twin duo Dr Chris and Dr Xand van Tulleken (you may remember him from Operation Ouch on CBBC!) as they come to grips with the first lockdown. They discuss various stories of patients who have been infected with COVID-19 and draw attention to the different ways the hospitals have had to operate as a result of the pandemic. The twins also share their own personal experiences during the pandemic: Chris’ wife became pregnant during a very uncertain time, whilst Xand actually contracted the virus and in his recovery experienced irregular cardiac rhythms (potentially linked to COVID-19).

Key Insights

1.     How Uncertain the New Virus Is

Although this documentary was filmed during the first lockdown, the virus is still relatively new. This means that scientists and medical professionals are still trying to understand what impact the virus can have on our bodies both short-term and long-term. During a medical career, there will be many instances where problem solving skills and existing knowledge will be required to assimilate new information and find solutions. This documentary highlighted how doctors had to this during the pandemic to bring the virus under control.

2.     The Vital Importance of Teamwork

This was demonstrated well when Xand visited patients who had suffered from a stroke after contracting the virus. These patients required physiotherapy as they were no longer able to perform basic tasks such as walking or lifting a mug of tea. The doctors worked alongside other medical professionals (ie. physiotherapists) and staff members so that they were able to provide the most effective care for patient recovery.


This documentary does contain some upsetting scenes and strong language (which the BBC do provide a disclaimer for) so it is not suitable to watch with young children or people who may find the topic sensitive. Other than this, I think it is hard to criticise this documentary as I thought it was very comprehensive and dealt with the subject matter well.

Rating: 10/10

This documentary was fantastic! I think it is useful for (prospective) medical students because of how they provide an insight into their lives as a doctor during the pandemic i.e. being a keyworker at the frontline of the NHS. By comparing this to documentaries created before the pandemic and to any work experience, or other personal experiences, pre-COVID19 times it is clear how the NHS have had to adapt to the changing circumstances the world has encountered. It is also relevant as it allows the general public to understand what happens inside the hospital in unprecedented times.

Unfortunately, this documentary is no longer available on BBC iPlayer, however, luckily there is still a version available to watch on YouTube (albeit slightly lower quality)!

Author: Iqra Ali

Editor: Allegra Wisking

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