After the Second World War a unit was established near Salisbury to solve the mysteries of the common cold.

For 44 years the Common Cold Unit at Harvard Hospital was part of the British medical establishment.

The research relied on a constant supply of human volunteers who flocked to the unit to spend days in isolation living in huts that, at first glance, looked like a prison camp.

This is the story of the Common Cold Unit told by the people who lived and worked there and some of the faithful volunteers who came back year-after-year to be infected with a cold virus in the name of medical research.

Clare English visited the area and met up with volunteers and retired staff who pushed forward medical research into the common cold over the post war years.

The programme is an affectionate tribute to a British institution where charm and sensitivity were blended with efficiency and strict discipline to create something truly unique.

Broadcast Dates

  • 20040206
  • 20041219