entertainment

Stephen Fry tackles mental health in new BBC documentary

2016-02-03
British presenter, actor and author Stephen Fry is to present a follow up to his landmark documentary The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, as apart of a special week of mental health programming to screen on the BBC One this month. The Not So Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive: 10 Years On sees the 58-year-old return to the very personal subject matter of living day-to-day with manic depression, which he candidly spoke about in the award-winning two part series that first aired on the BBC back in 2006. It will lead a week of programming of mental health content that will include stories across BBC News, BBC Breakfast, The One Show, Inside Out and Eastenders. The new film sees Fry explore the condition - now referred to as bipolar and the ways in which society can better understand and support those who are coping with the illness. Among participants in the documentary is YouTube sensation Alika, whose manic episode on the London Underground gave proof that the stigma of mental illness is not diminishing quickly enough. Another participant is Scott, a chef who is battling to hold down a job and his role as a husband and father, and whose first attempts to control his bipolar with medication resulted in the intolerable side-effects which these drugs often bring. The program also reconnects with Cordelia, who featured in the original series, an academic high-achiever who, with the support of her family, was struggling to find a place for herself in the world. Stephen-Fry Interviews with Stephen Fry give a privileged insight into the roller-coaster journey of what living with bipolar really means – he talks about his suicide attempt while filming in Uganda in 2012; how his busy lifestyle exacerbates his condition, and his realisation that his condition can’t be cured but only managed.   Director of BBC News James Harding says the focus on mental health across the broadcaster’s programming an opportunity to “stop and reflect on one of the big issues of our time, one that touches all of us”. “We will report and examine – with all the BBC’s expertise, insight and understanding – on what’s really happening in mental health,” he said. Charlotte Moore, Controller BBC TV Channels and iPlayer, says the 10-year milestone of the first program was a timely anniversary. “Ten years on since Stephen Fry's Emmy-award-winning film about manic depression, it now feels like the right time to bring this important subject to a mainstream audience on BBC One,” she says. “To find out what has changed, what progress has been made and what the future holds for people living with mental health conditions in the UK. “Over the last decade, we've broken down taboos, and medical advances mean we have a greater understanding of the brain than ever before, but we're not there yet. There is still so much more that needs to be done.” The Not So Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive: 10 Years On airs on BBC One on Monday 15 February at 9pm. More stories: What’s life really like as a webcam boy? Watch | Go behind the scenes of Gus Kenworthy’s Attitude cover shoot