Written and directed by the BAFTA-award winning duo of Jack Thorne and Marc Munden, Channel 4’s Help is set to be one of the real TV highlights of this year. Viewers anticipate emotive performances, as usual, from the leads Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham, as they explore the dynamic of a care worker and patient during the coronavirus pandemic.
Described by Graham as a “profoundly important piece of social realism,” Help sets out to demonstrate the hardships experienced in care homes as coronavirus swept across the UK in March 2020. Here’s everything we know so far.
What’s The Plot Of Help?
The two-hour drama takes place in a fictional care home in Liverpool as the coronavirus pandemic begins to affect both its staff and patients. The story focuses on Sarah (Comer), a young care worker who forms a bond with a 47-year-old patient Tony (Graham) who has early onset Alzheimers. Her success in establishing a rapport with Tony “helps build her confidence, and restores her self belief,” but when the pandemic hits in March 2020 “everything Sarah has achieved is thrown into doubt,” per Channel 4’s statement.
Help provides an insight into the struggles faced by care workers and patients across the country, shining an “unflinching light on the terrible events of 2020 through telling a compelling, heart-wrenching relationship story,” as Channel 4’s head of drama, Caroline Hollick summarises in the statement.
When Does Help Air?
There’s currently no premiere date for Help. The only clue Channel 4 has given is that it will be “coming soon” to their terrestrial and online platforms.
Who’s In The Cast Of Help?
Jodie Comer (Killing Eve, Free Guy) and Stephen Graham (Time, This is England) lead the film as Sarah and Tony, respectively. This is the second time the actors have worked together, the first being on the set of the 2012 series Good Cop. Comer was relatively new to the acting sphere, and Graham was so impressed by her performance that he convinced his agent, Jane Epstein, to meet her.
Years later, when Comer won the BAFTA for Leading Actress in 2019, she thanked Graham for helping her make her way in the industry. “If I didn’t owe you a pint before then, I do now,” she said. “Thank you for the generosity you showed me all those years ago.”
Understandably, Graham and Comer were very excited to work together on this project. “I’ve wanted to work with Jodie for ages, and together we’re hugely passionate about shining a light on one of the biggest tragedies of our time, and the people at the heart of it,” Graham told Channel 4. “I am, of course, thrilled to finally be working alongside Stephen,” Comer added.
Help also stars Coronation Street’s Angela Griffin, Mr Selfridge’s Mike Noble, and Brassic’s John McGrellis.
Is There A Trailer For Help?
Channel 4 released their first teaser trailer for Help on August 31. The short trailer shows Sarah and Tony meeting for the first time a carers just as the coronavirus begins to take hold. The pair can be seen struggling desperately to keep everyone safe and well and dealing with the realisation that no one is coming to help them.
What Else Is There To Know About Help?
Help initially came to be after Graham asked Thorne to create something for him and Comer to star in together. “I tried to think of something and I got nothing,” Thorne explained to Channel 4. “Then this crisis happened, and we saw care homes getting squashed and battered by the government [...] 30,000 people have died unnecessarily in these care homes because of the indifference and incompetence of our government.”
As the Nuffield Trust notes, there were “an extraordinary number of excess deaths” in care homes during the first wave of the pandemic, as well as dozens of “shortcomings in the response to the pandemic” by the government.
“Hearing the stories of those on the frontline, having people break down in tears on Zoom in front of us has been incredibly moving and galling,” Thorne explained. “Getting the story right will be incredibly important, we are aware of the pressure upon us, this has to be written and made with anger and precision. We hope to do it justice.”
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