Being Frank: The Frank Gardner Story

Frank Gardner was the BBC’s first-ever security correspondent, he travelled the world unhindered until June 2004 when Frank was shot six times by al-Qaeda gunmen whilst he was reporting on the growing terrorist activity seen in Saudi Arabia. At the age of just 43, Frank was left paralysed as the bullets which hit him damaged his spinal nerves, he has relied on a wheelchair ever since.

In 2020 we are now 16 years on and Frank has still never really gotten used to being disabled. In this BBC special we are taken on a deeply personal journey that sees Frank openly discuss the effects his injuries have had on his life, work and relationships, not to mention the effect it has had on how he views himself. Frank is incredibly honest in how he reveals the ongoing physical indignities he encounters day to day such as changing his colostomy bag, but it is discussing his emotional state which seems to make him most uncomfortable.

This journey is all about exploring the way that others who have found themselves in similar life-changing situations have managed to cope. We meet Yasmin, a young girl who has recently suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of a climbing accident. It is clear Yasmin is still very much coming to terms with her disability, we hear describe the shock and intense sadness felt when discovering she was paralysed.

Reflecting on his own recovery, Frank says it was his wife Amanda who helped him most, but his recovery was not without its impact on their relationship. Recently, Frank and Amanda have divorced, amicably, and Frank now finds himself at a turning point in his life in a new relationship as he comes to terms with the frustration of just how dependent on others he will always be. However, despite the considerable physical hardships he continues to endure, and knowing that the mental recovery after a life-changing injury can take years, he continues to live life to the full. Ultimately, he is really very happy, just being Frank.

Directed by: Dov Freedman

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  1. Well done! Thank you for sharing so many of the issues that face MILLIONS of people. The more awareness regarding disabilities, the greater the understanding will be that humans all come with individual skills, shortcomings, and gifts. Disabilities require honing the skills that we DO have left, learning adaptive self-care, but mainly adjusting mentally & emotionally while dealing with physical realities. It’s hard, VERY hard. But the strength of character and determination that was present before injury/illness is very much in evidence following it; just channeled differently. Like Mr. Gardner, I have been disabled now for 16 years with a variety of issues caused by radiation damage from the treatment of cancer. I can no longer walk and have two ostomies. Life DOES go on, it seems, and we can either go along with it or … not. Best wishes & support to all who watched this & learned something you either didn’t know or were never even curious about. Good Health to you all. Mr. Gardner, if you read this, THANK YOU again. I relate to so much of what you had to say, and some of the challenges you’ve faced. To those newly disabled or caring for a loved one, please know that routines will be easier with time, and that YOU CAN DO THIS. Indeed, you already are.

  2. God I was born in June 2004. Sad to know while I was just coming to life Frank was going through this.