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  • Viewers Hail ‘inspirational’ Frank Gardner Documentary As He Opens Up About Life In A Wheelchair

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    Viewers today reacted to an “inspirational” documentary by BBC correspondent Frank Gardner who was left partially paralysed when he was shot while reporting in Saudi Arabia.

    The 59-year-old journalist and cameraman Simon Cumbers were ambushed by al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia 16 years ago. Cumbers was killed and Gardner paralysed from the knee down.

    In his new documentary Being Frank, which was aired on BBC Two on Thursday night, he documents the day he was attacked and how it changed his life.

    He also shows the practicalities of living with a disability and how people interact with him while he is in his wheelchair. © Provided by Evening Standard

    Gardner in the documentary

    BBC/Curious Films

    Ahead of broadcast, he said of the documentary: “I want people to see the iceberg beneath the surface.

    "People look at somebody in a wheelchair, like me, and they probably think 'poor guy, I wonder if he needs a bit of help?' What they don't see is all the stuff that we have to deal with beneath the surface."

    This morning, viewers reacted to the show, hailing the documentary as “compelling”.

    Dr Charlotte Lydia Riley tweeted: “This is really great, compelling television.”

    Another wrote: “Frank Gardner’s reporting has always been top drawer, but this documentary is something else. Compelling.”

    Nigel Corgingley wrote: “Frank Gardner documentary - one of the best ever documentaries. Incredibly tough watching, but inspirational man defeating setbacks and adversity in emphatic fashion.”

    John O’Connell wrote: “Excellent documentary on journalist Frank Gardner on BBC2 ‘Being Frank’. Well worth a catch up for anyone who missed it.”

    Andrew Wilson wrote: “Watching 'Being Frank: Frank Gardner' on BBC and what a watch it is. The life changing challenges of sustaining injuries and life before and after. Brave, honest, and heartening.”

    Gardner turned to journalism in his 30s and is now the BBC's security correspondent.

    Gardner and Cumbers were filming in a residential area of Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh, in 2004 when they were attacked.

    In disturbing footage - shown for the first time on the documentary - Gardner is ambushed by members of al-Qaeda while speaking with a minder.

    “They shot us at point blank range,” the journalist says. © Provided by Evening Standard

    Frank visits the ICU where he was treated following the attack

    BBC/Curious Films

    He was shot six times. The first bullet went in to Gardner's shoulder, the second his leg.

    "Then they stood over me and put the rest into me."

    He spent months recovering in ICU - but returned to work just 10 months after the attack.

    He has since travelled the world and continues to take part in activities like skiing and horse riding.

    The documentary was broadcast as the UK marks 25 years of the Disability Discrimination Act - a law which outlawed discrimination against disabled people.

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