Idris Elba reads ‘Don’t Quit’ poem in moving coronavirus PSA for the BBC

The actor and DJ tested positive for Covid-19 last month

Idris Elba has recorded a moving new coronavirus PSA for the BBC.

In the 90-second clip, which is appearing across BBC TV channels, Elba recites Don’t Quit, a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier as part of a larger message of the same name.

Elba’s reading of the poem is set against footage of the UK’s battle against Covid-19, featuring empty supermarket shelves, closed businesses and the applause given to NHS workers every Thursday.


“When things go wrong as they sometimes will; 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 poem reads.

The message continues: “Life is strange with its twists and turns, as every one of us sometimes learns; and main failures turn about, when we might have won had we stuck it out. Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow; you may succeed with another blow.

“Success is failure turned inside out, the silver tint of the clouds of doubt. And you can never tell how close you are; it may be near, though it seems so far. So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit; it’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.”

The BBC also recently used iconic sketches from The Thick Of It, I’m Alan Partridge and more in a series of adverts to encourage self-isolation.


Idris Elba revealed that he had tested positive for coronavirus last month, going on to say he believes that the virus is the earth’s response to being “damaged” by humanity.