The Best of Men

This one-off, 90-minute film tells the true story of Dr Ludwig Guttmann, a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany who founded the Paralympic Games. A specialist in spinal injuries, Guttmann arrived at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in 1944 to revolutionise the way paralysed servicemen were cared for. Until he came along such patients were heavily sedated and largely written off; the spinal unit was not so much a treatment centre as a dumping ground for bedsore-ridden invalids. Guttmann changed all that. His radical idea, which drew scepticism from his peers, was a simple one: he thought that by playing sports such as wheelchair hockey, the depressed patients would not only improve their fitness, but also their self-esteem.

The drama, scripted by Lucy Gannon, follows Guttmann’s tireless efforts and the progress made by the patients, from desperation to determination - a sense of purpose, he argued, would spur them on and so eventually the Paralympics were born.

A Whitby Davison Production for BBC 2

Production Stills

Before and After