Channel 4 has commissioned Help (w/t), a new 1x120’ drama from the BAFTA award-winning writer Jack Thorne (His Dark Materials, National Treasure) and BAFTA award-winning director Marc Munden (The Third Day, Utopia).
Help, set in a fictional Liverpool care home, tells the moving story of the relationship between a young care home worker (Comer) and a patient (Graham), whose lives are changed forever by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic last spring.
Sarah (Jodie Comer – Killing Eve, Doctor Foster) is smart, but she’s never fitted in, not in education and not in work. Her family told her she’d never amount to anything but she unexpectedly finds her calling as a carer at Sunshine Homes. Sarah has a special talent for connecting with the residents, including one in particular, 47-year-old Tony (Stephen Graham – Save Me, This is England).
Tony’s Young Onset Alzheimer’s has left him living out his days in care as his mind slowly deteriorates. His illness causes periods of confusion and violent outbursts, which the other members of staff can’t handle, but with Sarah he begins to build a real bond. Sarah’s success at managing Tony and the other patients helps build her confidence and restore her self-belief.
Then March 2020 hits and everything Sarah has achieved is thrown into doubt with the arrival of the Coronavirus pandemic. She and her colleagues tirelessly fight tooth and nail, ill-equipped, poorly prepared, and seemingly left helpless by the powers that be. A determined Sarah goes to extraordinary lengths to protect those in her care, whose conditions make their suffering and isolation all the more traumatic. But the staff’s unwavering commitment, compassion and heroic efforts can only do so much, and Sarah is pushed into a dark corner and desperately looks for a way out.
Jack Thorne says: “About two years ago Stephen Graham came to me with an idea to write something for him and Jodie Comer. I tried to think of something and got nothing. Then this crisis happened, and we saw care homes getting squashed and battered by the government. It's been both a long process and a short one, trying to find a way to tell this story, the amazing thing has been sharing in working out the story with Stephen, Jodie, the amazing Marc Munden, Beth Willis and everyone at the Forge and Channel 4. 30,000 people have died unnecessarily in these care homes because of the indifference and incompetence of our government. Hearing the stories of those at the frontline, having people break down in tears on zoom in front of us has been incredibly moving and galling. 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 we do it justice.”
Filming will commence in 2021.