The morale-boosting video, entitled ‘Don’t Quit,’ was released Friday night, and has Elba — who was among the first actors to reveal a coronavirus diagnosis in March — narrating John Greenleaf Whittier’s eponymous poem against a montage of news footage detailing the U.K.’s battle against COVID-19, including parked airplanes, empty grocery shelves and shuttered businesses, as well as more uplifting moments such as applauding National Health Service (NHS) workers, violinists playing out their windows in self-isolation and shows such as “Question Time” continuing without an audience.
“When things go wrong as they sometimes will; when the road you’re trudging seems all uphill; when the funds are low but the debts are high; when you want to smile but you have to sigh; when care is pressing you down a bit, rest if you must but don’t you quit,” says Elba in the 90-second film (below).
The video, commissioned by BBC Creative, comes after the U.K. recorded 980 hospital deaths in a single day (April 10), surpassing both Italy and Spain’s most fatal days, which were 969 and 950, respectively, according to the BBC.
Elba continues: “Life is strange with its twists and turns, as every one of us sometimes learns; and main failures turn about, when we might have won had we stuck it out. Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow; you may succeed with another blow.
“Success is failure turned inside out, the silver tint of the clouds of doubt. And you can never tell how close you are; it may be near, though it seems so far. So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit; it’s when things seem worst that you must not quit,” says Elba, who is separately calling for the public to submit videos of how they’re coping for another montage project set to Emanuel’s song “Need You.”
According to the latest figures, the U.K.’s death toll from coronavirus stands at 8,958, while there are 70,272 cases. The first death in the country was recorded on March 5, and fatalities have steadily risen, though a full lockdown came only on March 23. Prime Minister Boris Johnson contracted the virus more than two weeks ago and remains in hospital, though he has emerged from intensive care.
The BBC has said there are a further two films, each 2 x 60′ cuts, to be released in the coming days with the same poem being read by “The Irishman” and “This is England” star Stephen Graham and “Line of Duty” star Vicky McClure.
The films will be shown across BBC platforms including TV, radio, iPlayer and BBC Sounds.
Kerris Bright, chief customer officer for the BBC, said: “‘At a time when people are apart we wanted to focus on the things which actually are bringing us together. We hope this BBC film does that and reinforces the things which connect us in these difficult times.”
Helen Rhodes, executive creative director for BBC Creative, added: “This is a time when everyone is pulling together to get through this crisis. We really hope we’ve managed to capture the emotion of that and show the ways in which the BBC is trying to help by using all our resources to keep us connected and bring us closer.”