Entertainment & Arts

Homeland and Peaky Blinders stars raise nearly £1m to feed NHS workers

Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory Image copyright Getty Images

Actors Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory are expanding their initiative to give NHS workers meals from High-Street restaurants, after raising nearly £1m.

The stars of Homeland and Peaky Blinders launched the Feed NHS scheme in London but now say it will roll out to other UK cities facing Covid-19.

Lewis told the BBC it was important to look after hospital staff struggling to find places to eat during their shifts.

"The public have been incredible," he said on the Coronavirus Newscast.

"I know a lot of people are feeling a bit cash-strapped at the moment, so they've been unbelievably generous.

"But it means we can now kick in with a second round of funding - which is essentially what we are trying to do - in order to take it to Birmingham, Cardiff and Manchester, because the virus will move through those city centres."

Lewis, who plays US Marine Sgt Nicholas Brody in the Showtime terrorist drama, is currently isolating at home with his wife and fellow screen star, McCrory, and their two children, while the TV and film industry is on shutdown.

The couple teamed up with restaurant chains including Leon, Dishoom, Wasabi and Tortilla, to "get food to these people who were working such long hours and weren't able to".

Comedian Matt Lucas has also been involved in the Feed NHS scheme, releasing his revised Baked Potato Song to help raise funds.

Image copyright BBC/Getty Images
Image caption Matt Lucas and his singing baked potato

His charity single, Thank You Baked Potato, debuted at number 34 on the official UK singles chart on Friday, with the highest digital download sales of the week.

Elsewhere on Friday, Liam Gallagher became the latest musician to show his appreciation for health workers by announcing he was putting on a free concert for them, following in the footsteps of the Manic Street Preachers and Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott.

"They do an incredible job, we are very lucky to have them," posted the rock star.

Quarantined people around the UK gave a round of applause for the NHS for a third Thursday running, this week.

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Media captionPeople around the UK clapped for healthcare workers

Lewis and McCrory's scheme has so far provided thousands of meals for frontline workers at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and UCLH Healthcare NHS Trust in the capital.

The actress said that if the events of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic had been pitched to her in a prospective script, she "would have turned this film down".

"Because it would have seemed too far-fetched," declared the star, who portrays Polly Gray in the BBC Midlands gangster series.

'Burst into tears'

She also spoke about the "overwhelming" feelings of sadness she has experienced during the past few weeks in lockdown.

"You think you're absolutely fine, you're pottering along, you're coping with it - cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking - and you suddenly burst into tears," she said.

"And it's this fear and it's the vulnerability coming out and then you pick yourself up and you go along again as if nothing happened. And it's very surreal."

Coronavirus Newscast is a daily podcast available to download on BBC Sounds. It also appears as a weekly TV programme on BBC One, on Thursdays at 23:45 BST.

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