How to watch 'Breathtaking' online now: stream the explosive Covid pandemic drama for free today

Golden Globe winning actress Joanna Froggatt, dressed in blue medical scrubs, stars in harrowing new pandemic drama Breathtaking
(Image credit: ITVX)

"Breathtaking" – Jed Mercurio's shocking new 3-part miniseries based on Dr Rachel Clarke's experiences in a British hospital during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic – it out now. Below, we'll show you how to watch "Breathtaking" from anywhere with a VPN — and potentially for FREE.

Watch 'Breathtaking' online – TV channel, schedule, live stream

Date: The three-part miniseries airs on ITV1 on consecutive nights from Feb. 19 – 21 in the U.K. The U.S. release date is yet to be confirmed.
• FREE — ITVX (U.K.)
• FREE — TVNZ+ (New Zealand)
• Watch anywhereTry ExpressVPN 100% risk free

Golden Globe-winner Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey) plays acute medicine consultant Dr Abbey Henderson who is determined to cope with an unprecedented crisis until it becomes apparent that even her worst fears are destined to be realised.

Produced by Line of Duty's Jed Mercurio, "Breathtaking" reveals how the indecision of key U.K. government figures, the decision to lockdown too late, and a lack of PPE exacerbates an already dire situation and impacts the care that the medical staff – many of them also soon to be infected – can provide.

Dr Clarke said: "Everything that appears on screen has to have really happened in some shape or form to a real patient or member of staff in the NHS. So nothing you witness on screen has been exaggerated. Nothing has been fabricated."

Spliced with real news footage, "Breathtaking" is billed as 'The Story you haven’t been told' and is tipped to have as dramatic effect as another recent ITV drama, "Mr Bates vs The Post Office". All three episodes are streaming now for free in the U.K.. Read on to find out how you can watch Breathtaking online from anywhere. 

How to watch 'Breathtaking' for FREE in the U.K.

"Breathtaking" consists of three episodes that air on consecutive days on ITV1 from Monday, Feb. 19 to Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024.

All three episodes are streaming now on ITVX for FREE in the U.K. (with a valid TV license).

Not in the U.K. right now? Don't worry — you can watch from anywhere with one of the best VPN services such as ExpressVPN. Read on and we'll explain how to watch "Breathtaking" online using a VPN.

'Breathtaking' U.K. – TV air dates

  • "Breathtaking" Ep. 1Containment – ITV1, Monday, Feb. 19, 2024
  • "Breathtaking" Ep. 2Delay – ITV1, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024
  • "Breathtaking" Ep. 3Mitigation – ITV1,Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024

Watch 'Breathtaking' from anywhere in the world

How to watch 'Breathtaking' from abroad

A VPN, or virtual private network, makes it look as if you're surfing the web from your home country, rather than the country you're in. That means you can access the streaming services you normally watch (e.g. ITVX), even when you're traveling or working abroad.

We've tested plenty of the best VPN services and our favorite right now is ExpressVPN. It's fast, works on loads of devices and even offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

ExpressVPN

Speed, security and simplicity make <a href="https://go.expressvpn.com/c/4550836/1330033/16063?subId1=hawk-custom-tracking&sharedId=hawk&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.expressvpn.com%2Foffer%2Frecommended-deal%3Foffer%3D3monthsfree" data-link-merchant="expressvpn.com"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">ExpressVPN our favorite VPN service. In our testing, we were impressed by its fast connection times and by its ability to access more than 3,000 services in 160 locations across 94 countries. Plus, there's a 30-day money-back guarantee.

<a href="https://go.expressvpn.com/c/4550836/1330033/16063?subId1=hawk-custom-tracking&sharedId=hawk&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.expressvpn.com%2Foffer%2Frecommended-deal%3Foffer%3D3monthsfree" data-link-merchant="expressvpn.com"" data-link-merchant="expressvpn.com"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">The 12-month plan has the lowest monthly cost.

Using a VPN is incredibly simple.

1. Install the VPN of your choice. As we've said, ExpressVPN is our favorite.

2. Choose the location you wish to connect to in the VPN app. For instance if you're in the U.S. and want to view a U.K. service, you'd select U.K. from the list.

3. Sit back and enjoy the action. Head to ITVX or another service and stream "Breathtaking" for free online.

How to watch 'Breathtaking' around the world

Can I watch 'Breathtaking' online in the U.S.?

Watch "Breathtaking" – U.S. flag

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Sadly there’s no news on whether "Breathtaking" will get a U.S. release anytime soon. BritBox is the home of numerous ITV shows (like Irvine Welsh’s Crime) abroad, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for its arrival on that streamer in the coming months.

If you're a Brit currently abroad in the U.S., however, you could still connect to ITVX and watch "Breathtaking" today. Simply download a VPN such as ExpressVPN and you’ll be able to access your usual streaming services from Feb. 19, 2024.

Can I watch 'Breathtaking' in Canada?

Watch "Breathtaking" – Canada flag

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

We’re not aware that any Canadian broadcaster has purchased the rights to "Breathtaking". It’s very possible the show will be added to BritBox alongside many new and classic U.K. shows. As soon as we know more, we’ll be sure to update our viewing guide with the latest information.

Traveling out of the country? You might want to take this opportunity to download a VPN service, such as ExpressVPN, so that you can log into the same services you’ enjoy back home and stream the three-part drama on-demand on ITVX.

Can I watch 'Breathtaking' online in Australia?

Watch "Breathtaking" – Australia flag

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

While ITV Studios is responsible for international distribution, it hasn't expressed any plans to stream or broadcast "Breathtaking" in Australia anytime soon.

As mentioned above, if you’re away from home, a VPN like ExpressVPN will let you connect to your usual streaming service from anywhere in the world. "Breathtaking" can be streamed on-demand via ITVX.

Where to watch 'Breathtaking' online in New Zealand

"Breathtaking" is available to stream right now – absolutely FREE – on TVNZ+ in New Zealand.

Simply sign up to TVNZ+ with an email address. 

Abroad? If you're away from N.Z. at the moment, use a VPN to unblock TVNZ+ and stream all three episodes of "Breathtaking" from anywhere in the world today. Details below.

'Breathtaking' full episode guide

'Breathtaking' episode guide

"Breathtaking" Episode 1 – Containment 

In the lead up to the U.K.’s first Covid-19 national lockdown, acute medicine consultant Dr Abbey Henderson and NHS staff struggle to cope with the rising number of Covid-19 patients as the disease ravages the ward. Running out of tests, unable to use PPE, and with staff beginning to get sick, Abbey, registrar Ant, medical student Emma and the team must adapt quickly to try to stop the spread. However, unclear, ever-changing government guidelines force them to make difficult healthcare decisions with devastating consequences. 

"Breathtaking" Episode 2 – Delay 

During the first lockdown, Abbey moves away from her family to protect them. The team struggle between government policy and best patient care as Covid-19 patients - including a health care assistant on Abbey’s team (Divina) - continue to deteriorate and a cancer patient (Sally) worries she won’t survive. Abbey is forced to discharge a care home patient without proper testing. Despite best efforts, the team endures heartache and an emotional goodbye. But emotion and challenges only push staff to work harder to save patients and reduce Covid-19 spread, celebrating the small wins in the process. 

"Breathtaking" Episode 3 – Mitigation 

Despite improved treatment and knowledge of the virus, the incoming winter wave overwhelms Abbey and staff. The life of Ellie, a patient with multiple sclerosis and Covid-19, hangs in the balance when ventilators are desperately scarce. The Christmas aftermath comes on hard, especially for Emma, now a junior doctor, struggling under immense pressure. Covid deniers surface, causing staff morale to plummet. Patients are denied emergency operations due to lack of ITU beds leading to a moving emotional finale as Abbey makes a final stand and the team are given a chance to come together through their trauma. 

'Breathtaking' trailer

Before you check out how to watch "Breathtaking" online, take a look at the trailer below:


Interview with 'Breathtaking' lead Joanne Froggatt

Q & A with actress Joanne Froggatt who plays Dr Abbey Henderson

Why did you want to be involved in "Breathtaking"? 

"I had worked with our director Craig Viveiros before on Angela Black and he approached me about "Breathtaking". It sounded an incredibly important project to be a part of. Then I was sent the scripts and they just blew me away. They are some of the best scripts I’ve ever read. Definitely in the top percentage of great scripts I have read in my time. So that obviously was a huge factor. Just from a dramatic point of view. 

Reading the scripts I was very moved and shocked. Also moved to be involved in telling this story. I was shocked by what was really going on behind the closed doors of the hospitals here in the UK. We’d had little insights, bits and pieces we were told. But the story the public was fed by the government through the media is very different from what was actually happening. And so I was really shocked. I actually cried just reading the scripts. I don’t think that’s happened to me before. So it was a no-brainer for me to be involved. 

How did you prepare before filming started? 

"I did a lot of preparation. I started with reading the scripts and looking up all of the medical terms so I could get a broader sense of what was what. Then I read Rachel Clarke’s book "Breathtaking" and also her previous book called "Dear Life" which was about her experience as a palliative care doctor before Covid. Rachel Clarke is an extremely inspiring human being. 

I spent an afternoon with Rachel at the hospital where she works and was able to chat a lot to her. I also talked to her ward sister. I had conversations with both of them about their experiences during the pandemic. And I did a lot of research online, watched documentaries and some of Rachel’s TED talks. Then we had two days of medical boot camp with our medical advisors followed by a five day rehearsal period which turned into more trying to drill the Resus scenes than an acting rehearsal."

Who is Dr Abbey Henderson? 

"Dr Abbey Henderson is an NHS consultant in acute medicine. From the little knowledge I’ve gained - I’m not pretending I’m an expert - she seems to be a good representation of an acute medicine doctor. Abbey is very caring with a husband and two children at home. A family she loves. She cares about her patients. She cares about the fact the NHS is already overstretched and is then catapulted into this horror that was the pandemic. 

Abbey is based on both Rachel’s experiences during the pandemic but also those of many other doctors and nurses. She is a fictional character with many different stories incorporated into one person. But every scenario in the script is based on reality. Every patient’s story is based on something that happened somewhere in the UK. That was an incredibly grounding experience."

Where was 'Breathtaking' filmed?

All three episodes of "Breathtaking" (2024) were filmed in Belfast, Northern Ireland, last year. The series was produced in association with Northern Ireland Screen.

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Bill Borrows

Bill Borrows is an award-winning journalist, feature writer and columnist (Times Magazine/ Guardian/ Telegraph/ Daily Mirror/ Mail On Sunday/ Radio Times), author (The Hurricane: The Turbulent Life and Times of Alex Higgins) and book editor. A frequent contributor on talkSPORT and talkRADIO, his areas of specialisation include sport, history, politics, TV and film. He doesn’t get much free time but does admit to an addiction to true crime podcasts, following Man City home and away, and a weakness for milk chocolate cookies