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Bristol provides backdrop for new BBC Paralympic drama

Rob Brydon plays Sergeant Wynn Bowen in The Best of Men

Rob Brydon plays Sergeant Wynn Bowen in The Best of Men BBC

Press release issued: 15 August 2012

Actors Eddie Marsan and Rob Brydon star in The Best of Men - the uplifting story about the birth of the Paralympic Games, which was filmed at the University of Bristol and is being screened on BBC2 tomorrow night [16 August].

Sharp-eyed viewers will recognise three University of Bristol halls of residence, which were used as locations when the drama was filmed in the city last April.

Eddie Marsan (Happy Go Lucky, Tyrannosaur, War Horse) plays Dr Ludwig Guttmann, the visionary creator of the Paralympics. He was a talented neurologist who transformed the lives of patients and staff at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, where injured soldiers were being treated in the Spinal Injuries Unit.

The main hospital scenes were filmed at Manor Hall in Clifton, with Wills Hall and Goldney Hall being used for the majority of exterior shots.

Rejecting the general view that paralysis was a terminal condition, Guttmann threw out the old care regime and brought in a new philosophy - to get all his patients to live full and useful lives. Sport was his big idea and he used it to help build physical strength as well as self-respect.

Rob Brydon (Gavin And Stacey, The Trip) plays Sergeant Wynn Bowen, a Welsh soldier with a large personality, whose life is forever changed after he is paralysed and admitted to Stoke Mandeville under the care of Dr Guttmann.

In the summer of 1948, Guttmann held the first national athletic event for disabled athletes, which took place on the same day as the opening ceremony for the 1948 London Olympics. In 1952, the Stoke Mandeville Games became an international event when a team from Holland came to England to participate.

Guttmann’s vision for an international event to be held in parallel with the Olympics became a reality in 1960, when the games were held in Rome, Italy, alongside the official IOC.

Writer Lucy Gannon said: “The more I discovered about Dr Ludwig Guttmann, the more intrigued I became. His story is amazing and he really is an unsung hero, the man who revolutionised life for paralysed people."

  • Best of Men airs on BBC2, Thursday 16 August, at 9pm.

Also starring George MacKay (Defiance, Birdsong) who plays William Gardiner; Niamh Cusack (In Love With Alma Cogan, Heartbeat) as Nurse Edwards; Nigel Lindsay (Four Lions, Shrek the Musical) as Mr Gardiner; Ben Owen-Jones (Dalziel & Pascoe) as Neil; David Proud (EastEnders) as Jeremy and Richard McCabe (Wallander, The Duchess) as Dr Cowan.

The director is Tim Whitby and the producer is Harriet Davison from Whitby Davison Productions.

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