2012 is the 75th anniversary of the 999 system in the UK, and it's a system creaking under the weight of the British public's emergencies.
It's a service we're relying on more than ever. Since 2000 the ambulance service has seen an increase of over 70% in 999 calls. In 2010/11 alone the police saw a year-on-year increase of over 10% in 999s.
999: What's Your Emergency? (w/t) is a unique collaboration - filming over an intensive 10 week period with all the emergency services in Blackpool - police , fire and ambulance. But this is unlike any other emergency based series. These films capture the entire process from the moment a call is taken at control to the deployment of the services on the ground. And in Blackpool the system is straining - with 20% budget cuts to the police, Lancashire is dealing with over 43,000 emergency calls a week across the services. In the last year in the region over half a million people have called 999.
With rig technology inside the emergency vehicles to multiple crews on the ground 24/7, 999: What's Your Emergency? captures in a unique way the issues that face Britain today - from the emergence of new drugs, the despair of domestic violence, the way we parent our children and those, from whatever background, who slip through society's safety net.
With unique access to the services and the control centres that deploy them, this is the job seen through the eyes of those at the emergency front line. Raw and un-mediated, compassionate, yet tough minded. This is Britain in extremis.
The debates about how we live in 2012 and what Britain has really become are brought to the fore through the experiences of the ordinary men and women of the 999 services who find themselves cleaning up society's mess. As the stories unfold in this unique project it emerges how much we expect our 999 workers to be both rescuers and, more importantly, social workers. With cuts and streamlining of care services on the agenda, these are the people now often effectively charged with sorting our social problems on the ground, day in day out. Now, for this first time this series shows the reality of picking up the pieces a broken Britain.
Strong humane characters, and riveting storytelling combines with a sophisticated analysis of contemporary problems - 999:What's Your Emergency? (w/t) is both shocking and provocative but often funny, even bizarre. And Blackpool is the perfect location - a large town with its fair share of problems: crime, drugs, drink and violence...as well as a reputation as ‘Vegas of the North'.
What the emergency services have to deal with is always unpredictable, often exasperating and sometimes deeply disturbing. And whether they have to deal with the reckless or the unlucky, they get to see Britain at its most raw, it's most vulnerable, it's most shocking and its most heart rending.
Ambitious and grand in scale, 999:What's Your Emergency? (w/t) has incredible access across the services to make it a landmark event in Channel 4's 2012 schedules. Featuring compelling characters and desperate and dangerous situations it continues the channel's commitment to in showing the lives of society's key workers in a compelling, humane and engaging way with series such as ‘24 Hours in A&E'. With high production values and crafted editing this series is set to take the temperature of Britain like no other.
999: What's Your Emergency? (w/t) is produced by Blast! Films, a company with a reputation for provocative, high quality factual production. Recent projects include Channel 4's award winning ‘Coppers'. This project combines the talents of some of the best documentary practitioners in the UK, from the shooting teams on the ground, to the team of directors, producers and editors in the cutting room.
Daniel Fromm/Mark Jones
Edmund Coulthard/Guy Davies/Simon Ford