Belfast Telegraph

BBC hotline fielded 400,000 calls for help and advice in 2018

The corporation has said it holds a ‘unique’ public service role.

BBC Action Line fielded hundreds of thousands of calls. (Peter Summers/PA)
BBC Action Line fielded hundreds of thousands of calls. (Peter Summers/PA)

BBC programming has prompted 400,000 calls for help from its audience over issues raised by the corporation.

The BBC moved thousands of viewers and listeners to seek health advice over tragic sepsis storylines.

Call The Midwife and The Archers featured the deaths of prominent characters due to the lethal  infection response, which sparked a surge in calls to the BBC helpline for issues raised in its programming.

There were more than 20,000 calls be concerned audience members to the BBC Action Line to learn more about the sepsis which had claimed the lives fictional characters, and causes the deaths of 44,000 people each year in the UK.

The death of Nic Grundy on The Archers prompted more than 15,000 calls to the helpline, and the passing of Call The Midwife character Nurse Barbara Gilbert led to 5,000 calls.

Calls on the subject of sepsis were among the 400,000 to the BBC Action Line in 2018, with permanent lines open to handle subjects like suicide and sexual abuse.

Editor of The Archers Jeremy Howe said: “The Archers team take a lot of care to ensure these storylines are well researched and handled sensitively, and to know that this helped raise awareness of sepsis and had such a positive response from listeners is extremely rewarding.”

There were 80,000 calls concerning emotional distress and suicide in 2018, and 40,000 on the subject of sexual abuse.

Holby City moved audiences to make 7,000 calls on the issue of Crohn’s disease following a storyline on the subject. 

There were 400 different prompts to call the Action Line across various BBC programmes in 2018.

Keith Jones, of BBC Audience Services, said: “The BBC’s unique Public Service role means we have a duty not only to cover the many difficult issues that touch the lives of our audiences, but also to offer free off-air information about them and help those affected to find organisations willing to offer support and help. 

“We hope this has helped the many who contacted us needing support this year.”

Dame Pippa Harris, executive producer of Call The Midwife, said: “We are pleased that so many people responded to Barbara’s storyline and reached out to the BBC Action line because of it. So many of the Call The Midwife issues we raise affect people today so we make sure our scripts and storylines are accurate and relatable. Heidi Thomas continues to write such thoughtful and provoking episodes into series eight which returns in January 2019.”

The BBC Action Line service can be accessed online by visiting



From Belfast Telegraph