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In New Documentary 'Everyday Americans,' The BBC Examines Louisville's Opioid Crisis

Courtesy Philip Reevell/BBC

The opioid epidemic has been making headlines in Louisville for several years now, but in other countries, it’s further from the public conscious.

That’s part of the reason why the BBC sent a team to Louisville earlier this year to produce a three-part documentary called “Everyday Americans” on this community’s reaction to the opioid crisis.

That documentary airs tonight through Friday at 8 p.m. on WFPL, and as part of it, producer Philip Reevell followed Louisville Courier Journal reporter Laura Ungar and her coverage of the opioid crisis. WFPL’s Lisa Gillespie spoke with Reevell about the project; you can listen to their conversation in the player above.

On why Reevell and his team focused the documentary on Louisville:

“As a city, it's not it's not a huge, you know, it's not New York, it's not LA, it’s not one of the major cities. But it’s a big enough city in its own right to have a character and a legacy and history about it. In general terms, the numbers are higher, it has some high statistical numbers in terms of overdose deaths. So the epidemic presents itself here.”

On the level of awareness about America’s opioid crisis in the United Kingdom:

“I don't think they would know the way [the crisis] sort of ripples out — that it’s not just the person who is addicted, the odd person who overdoses — it touches their families. And then it touches on the responders, the police and the emergency service. And then it touches on the court and then it touches on public health  and education and it ripples out into everyday aspects of life that you just probably wouldn't be aware of from the UK.”

On why Reevell believes his audience in the United Kingdom needs to know about this:

“The sort of scale of it here I think, and the way in which is addressing all areas of society here is something that I think we wouldn't be aware of [in the United Kingdom]. I think it's just getting a feel for how much damage is done to some to some people and parts of the community here is something that probably would be not a headline. Normally, the headline would be the latest President Trump story or a Supreme Court story would be the stories that you'd cover at a headline level. So to get into a story in a lot of detail like we’ve done, or with a lot of coverage, is—we think—an important way of showing what's going on in in American society across the piece. Which is just not to say that everywhere has suffering in the same way but it's like [a] significant element in ordinary everyday life here in America. And so that's the idea that we would air that story.”