Award-winning screenwriter Jimmy McGovern long ago mastered the skill of turning pertinent social issues into brilliantly insightful dramas packed with emotion and social insight. The creator of Hillsborough, Broken and Moving on, is never one to shy away from issues that matter, and his latest work Care tackles the issue that members of the Unforgettable Caregivers’ Club will surely relate to.
Care – a one off BBC drama which airs tonight at 9pm – is likely to spark wide public interest. It tells the story of Jenny, a single mother who relies on her mum Mary to care for her children while she works full time at a supermarket. Then Mary has a stroke and develops dementia, and everything begins to unravel…
An all too familiar scenario unfolds: The local health authorities refuse to take responsibility for Mary, and Jenny battles to convince various authorities that her mother is not well enough to be left alone at home. She finds herself caught between her own life and the wellbeing of her mother and quickly realises that if she wants things to get better, she’ll have to fight for it.
‘It’s about the ‘hoops you have to jump through to get your mother into care,’ says McGovern
The issues Jenny is shown to face in the 90-minute drama are ones that many dementia caregivers will no doubt be painfully aware of – they’re certainly ones that are frequently discussed in the Unforgettable Dementia Support Group.
Care isn’t only well researched, it has an uncanny ring of truth about it. The story is loosely based on the experiences of McGovern’s co-writer Gillian Juckes, who’s real life experiences formed the inspiration for the story. ‘It has been a great experience to write about a subject very close to my heart,’ says Gillian.
Best of all perhaps, is that Care stars two of the UK’s best-known performers in its leading roles. Multi-award-winning actress Sheridan Smith plays single mum Jenny and Alison Steadman gives a beautifully understated performance as her mother Mary.
McGovern hopes the drama will create an impact – something he’s very adept at doing – and at the very least stir conversation and public debate about attitudes to care and the elderly.
‘I know we’ve got Brexit and all that going on, but it would be great if this drama helped to start a debate about care,’ says McGovern. ‘It’s a question that needs to be addressed rather than dodged, as it is now.’
We couldn’t agree more.