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Fart sounds woke up her comatose brother: How Margaret Nagle's experience helped her write "Red Band Society"

"Red Band Society," premieres on Fox September 17th, starring Octavia Spencer, Charlie Rowe and Nolan Sotillo.
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Fox executive producer Margaret Nagle says she doesn't find hospitals to be scary.

"I've grown up in that world, so it's not a depressing world to me," says Nagle, who used her personal experiences to write the "Red Band Society." It's a new Fox TV show, which tells the story of several teenagers dealing with long-term or terminal illnesses — forcing them to live together in a hospital.

"I know what it is for someone to be in a coma," she says. When she was younger, her brother was comatose following a car accident. "My very earliest memory are the walls of the hospital."

Hospitals can actually be a place for unexpected surprises and joy, she says. Shortly before hospital staff moved her brother to a long-term facility, their mother became desperate to wake him up.

"She would bring ice cream and hold it up to his nose — he loved coffee ice cream," Nagle says, explaining that her mother hoped the smell would wake him up.

However, it was when her mother tried inflating a balloon that she got a surprise.

"It slipped out of her hands and it made sort of this pffffttt sound as it went through the air."

He smiled.

Her mother told the doctors, and around the clock she and the staff spent more than 12 hours making fart noises for him.

That's how he came out of his coma.

"I know how to portray this world," she says.

The hospital in the series — which is pristine and beautiful — is based on the real-life Daltrey/Townshend Teen and Young Adult Cancer Program at UCLA.

Nagle says teenagers have different needs than many other patients, and she wanted to depict what facilities look like when they make adjustments for them.

"They have a lounge that is open 24 hours a day because teenagers live on a different time clock and they have different sleep patterns," she says.

Nagle says this series will be a tool that Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, both from The Who, can use to convince hospitals around the country to create similar facilities which they will help fund through Teen Cancer America.

"I hope that this pilot will help everyone move the ball forward in that way," says Nagle.

"Red Band Society" debuts tonight at 9 p.m. on Fox.