Sirens. Image shows from L to R: Stuart Bayldon (Rhys Thomas), Rachid Mansaur (Kayvan Novak), Ashley Greenwick (Richard Madden). Copyright: Daybreak Pictures.


Channel 4 comedy drama. 6 episodes (1 series) in 2011. Stars Rhys Thomas, Kayvan Novak, Richard Madden, Amy Beth Hayes, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Annie Hulley and Ben Batt.

Brian Kellett interview

Sirens. Image shows from L to R: Sgt Maxine Fox (Amy Beth Hayes), Ashley Greenwick (Richard Madden), Rachid Mansaur (Kayvan Novak), Stuart Bayldon (Rhys Thomas). Copyright: Daybreak Pictures.When ambulance man Brian Kellett started writing his blog under the pen name Tom Reynolds he never dreamed it would lead to a book or a TV series...

"When I started writing the blog it was pretty much just for myself, then when I grew an audience I started writing for them as well as me. I never even thought that there would be a book, let alone anything else. Even when the TV rights were sold I never thought that anything would actually get commissioned, let alone made."

"It all started off because I was reading other bloggers and saw that they were having a whale of a time, they really seemed to be living life to the full and I wondered if it would work for me. Later on I realised that the writing was helping me to become a better practitioner - you really start to examine everything around you rather than be a passive observer when you know you need some material to write."

So does Brian recognise himself in the characterisations? "It actually surprises me how much Stuart is like me (excepting that he is more handsome and wittier), the writers of the series seem to have some sort of machine that lets them read my brain. Either that or they read my books. I'm impressed by the cynicism, by the use of humour to shield himself and the weird trivia that he comes out with. It's also worrying that I seem to have exactly the same world view as him. Now it's been pointed out, I'm wondering if I need therapy myself..."

So will Sirens give viewers an insight into the real lives of EMTs? "It is certainly more real than any other TV drama involving ambulances I've ever seen. Obviously this is comedy-drama first and foremost and so it has to be entertaining, but while some license is taken, every ambulance incident that happens in the programme I could see happening in real life. The flip side is that some of the things that I've witnessed are so bizarre that if you put them into a TV programme no-one would believe that it actually happened."

"One of the things that struck me as most real about the scripts is that the dialogue is absolutely spot on. It absolutely nails the camaraderie between staff that exists - if you are spending twelve hours a day with the same person it's like being married to them, and I think this series does show that. It also reveals that the nature of the job can be deeply damaging in a psychological sense."

"I've had a universally good reception from other ambulance staff both in the UK and from around the world when it comes to my two books. I'm hopeful that they will see the reality in Sirens, and will find the TV programme just as honest in its portrayal of ambulance life."

Brian has now left the ambulance service and works as a nurse practitioner in an urgent care centre. "As I tell my old work colleagues while they nod in agreement, I'm now treated like an adult as I can eat food and go to the toilet without having to ask for permission."

More Sirens interviews

Published: Wednesday 1st June 2011