Real life stories of being ‘Saved by a Stranger’

Thursday: Saved By a Stranger; (BBC2, 9pm)

Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 5:00 pm
Karl was a passenger on the first carriage of the Piccadilly Line London Underground train - one of the four targets of the 7/7 bombings - and has been looking for the mystery woman who comforted him in the dark smoke-filled carriage. Pictured with Anita Rani

Over the past year, we’ve heard some harrowing stories but also tales of heroism from people on the frontline in the fight against Covid-19.

So, it seems like a good time for the new series Saved By a Stranger, which celebrates moments of kindness during challenging times.

The show is presented by Anita Rani, and meets people who were caught up in some of the biggest events in living memory when they benefited from an act of exceptional, life-changing humanity.

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Each episode will feature a person who experienced a key moment in recent British history, including the 7/7 terrorist attacks, the Troubles in Northern Ireland and the Falklands War. But there will also be stories from around the world, including the Holocaust and the Bosnian War.

The contributors won’t just be sharing their stories, they’ll also be heading off on an emotional journey to find someone significant from this time who they subsequently lost touch with. We’ll witness some emotional reunions, but their quests will also include historical learning and investigative research, offering viewers a new insight into these fascinating chapters.

Host Rani will be able to relate to the contributors’ experience of digging into the past, as she embarked on her own personal journey for the genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?

It saw the Countryfile presenter exploring the history of her maternal grandfather Sant Singh, and in the process learning more about how his family was affected by the violence surrounding the Partition of India in 1947.

Speaking about the episode, she said: “To come and discover just how brutal and barbaric the Partition was and how little power women had at that time, it has changed me.”

However, while there may be some distressing stories in Saved by a Stranger, there will be uplifting and inspirational ones too.

The first episode meets Karl, a trainee clinical psychologist who was a passenger on the first carriage of the Piccadilly Line London Underground train – one of the four targets of the 7/7 bombings.

In the moments after the explosion, Karl understandably feared for his life, but he was comforted by a woman standing next to him, who held his hand in the smoke-filled carriage. He’s been trying to find her ever since, and he hopes that finally tracing her will help him to come to terms with the event that has transformed his life.

The episode also introduces viewers to Emina, who is now an NHS researcher living in Nottingham but was born in Sarajevo, along with her younger sister Edina. As a baby, Edina was diagnosed with Down Syndrome and shortly after this, a brutal civil war broke out across Bosnia and Herzegovina and Sarajevo came under siege.

There was no safe way for the family to leave the city, but Edina’s doctor fought to put them on a rare list for immediate medical evacuation, which enabled them to leave Sarajevo for Birmingham.

Now, Emina is searching for the medic who helped to get her and Edina to safety and gave them a chance at a better life.

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