The BBC is to air a new documentary on Leeds rugby league legend Rob Burrow, who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in December 2019 and told he may only have a year to live, two at the most.
Rob Burrow: Living With MND will air in October and takes an intimate look at Burrow’s life, following events as 40-year-old Burrow passed his two-year life expectancy and survived a global pandemic. The sporting great made over 400 appearances for Leeds Rhinos between 2001 and 2017, and was widely dubbed one of the sport’s all-time greats.
It follows the love and support of Rob’s family, friends and the wider rugby league community. The documentary shows his wife, Lindsey, who Rob met when they were teenagers, care for him as she juggles looking after their three young children Macy (10), Maya (7), and Jackson (3), as well working for the NHS as a physiotherapist. It will also show the huge role his parents Geoff and Irene play to the 24-hour care Rob needs.
The documentary will visit the NHS staff treating Rob in hospital in West Yorkshire, and audiences will see his former team mate at Leeds Rhinos, Kevin Sinfield OBE, who has raised millions for MND research since his best friend was diagnosed nearly three years ago.
The documentary witnesses the star at some of his most intimate and vulnerable moments, such as when Lindsey carries him up to bed, to when he’s being his cheekiest using his voicebox to tell his mum Irene that “she has a gob on her,” as well as showing Rob on dad duties, beaming with pride as he watches his children at their school sports day.
His story is one of courage and never giving up: “I’m a prisoner in my own body,” he says. That’s the way MND gets you, the lights are on, but no one’s home. I think like you, but my mind doesn’t work right. I can’t move my body.”
Sally Nugent, a BBC Breakfast presenter who has become friends with the Burrow family added: “This film shares the brutal reality of living with motor neurone disease, not just for Rob, but the impact it has on his whole family and friends. What he is doing will have a lasting legacy for people diagnosed today and in years to come.”
BBC Breakfast has followed Rob since his diagnosis back in December 2019. A previous documentary broadcast In 2020, Rob Burrow: My Year with MND was shot primarily by Rob and his family in lockdown during the height of Covid 19.
Rob Burrow: Living with MND will broadcast on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer at 7pm on Tuesday October 18.