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Idris Elba reads a rousing poem by British-American poet Edgar Albert Guest in a new BBC coronavirus message.

Over BBC news footage of key workers packing deliveries for supermarkets, parks and public spaces kept empty by social distancing, and NHS workers being applauded for their efforts to combat COVID-19, Elba recites stirring verses from Guest’s poem “Don’t Quit.”

“When things go wrong as they sometimes will,” he tells viewers, “when the road you’re trudging seems all uphill; when the funds are low but the debts are high; when you want to smile but you have to sigh; when care is pressing you down a bit, rest if you must but don’t you quit.”

The message concludes with Elba telling viewers reassuringly that “together, we’ll get through.” It’s being shown on various BBC platforms in the U.K. including TV and the iPlayer streaming service. Check out the affecting 90-second message below.

Elba is an apt choice of narrator for the message because last month he became one of the first high-profile figures to reveal he had been diagnosed with COVID-19. The Luther actor reassured fans he was “feeling OK” following his diagnosis and has kept us updated on his progress since then.

The BBC has also commissioned Line of Duty actors Vicky McClure and Stephen Graham to read excerpts from Guest’s poem in slightly shorter, 60-second coronavirus messages which will be released shortly.

Kerris Bright, chief customer officer for the BBC, said in a statement: “At a time when people are apart we wanted to focus on the things which actually are bringing us together. We hope this BBC film does that and reinforces the things which connect us in these difficult times.”

Which poem would you like to hear Idris Elba recite next?

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Filed Under: Idris Elba
By Nick Levine