Michael Portillo, Meera Syal and Terry Pratchett to front films about mental health for BBC Two
BBC Two announces three new documentaries for BBC Headroom, the
BBC's two-year mental health and wellbeing initiative. The
programmes will be presented by Michael Portillo, Terry
Pratchett and Meera Syal, each tackling a subject matter that
is of personal importance to them.
Michael Portillo: Death Of A School Friend (Liberty Bell
Productions, 1 x 60-minutes) looks back to when Michael Portillo was at
school and a close friend in his class killed himself.
was a popular, clever student and a gifted musician, but just
before his 16th birthday he committed suicide.
detailed and moving interviews with Gary's parents and younger
brother, Michael discovers how Gary's suicide and his family's
enduring sense of loss has coloured their lives ever since.
Self Harm And Meera (BBC Vision, 1 x 60-minutes) is a sensitive film
in which Meera Syal looks at the issue of self harm in the
UK. It's a difficult and distressing subject and one that is
close to Meera's heart.
In this moving journey she will seek
to answer: what is self harm, who does it affect and why?
Meera meets victims, including those that have now recovered
and others who are still suffering, and learns about the
complicated issues that can lead to a person taking such
Best-selling author, Terry Pratchett, is 59 years old and has
recently been diagnosed as having early onset Alzheimer's
Determined to prevent it if he possibly can, Terry
Pratchett On Alzheimer's (IWC Media, 2 x 60-minutes) is a series
charting his personal journey through the science and the
reality of what it's like to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
The series follows Terry's race to find a cure as he
endeavours to find ways of slowing, mitigating or even
reversing its course.
These new commissions follow the recently broadcast Losing It, in which Griff Rhys Jones charted his issues with anger, and
Cracking Up: Alastair Campbell On Breakdown (Sunday 12
October, BBC Two, 9.00pm), in which Alastair Campbell talked about the
nervous breakdown he suffered in 1986, giving his first in
depth account of this life-changing event, revisiting the
people, places and landmarks of his breakdown and subsequent
Launched in May 2008, BBC Headroom is a two-year mental health
and wellbeing project.
It aims to raise awareness of the
importance of good mental health and de-stigmatise the
problems surrounding the mental illness issues which face up
to one in four of the population including anxiety, stress,
depression and nervous breakdown.
Supporting the transmission of Cracking Up, BBC Headroom is
launching a mental health action line – 08000 933 193 – which
offers callers advice about where to get support if they, or
someone they know, is going through a nervous breakdown or
dealing with other mental health issues.
Notes to Editors
BBC Headroom is a cross-platform campaign from BBC Learning to
encourage people to look after their mental health and
Headroom's main aim is to raise awareness of simple
steps that people can take to help look after their own mental
health and improve their lives.
Be it exam stress,
relationship headaches, insomnia, anxiety or depression,
Headroom will provide on-going support and information, as
well as offering individuals the chance to share their
experiences in a safe environment.
As well as its extensive online offering, the Headroom team
take their practical advice on a tour in the Headroom Tent and
undertake grassroots projects with local organisations such as
There is also be a range of on-air programming
across BBC TV and radio, creating bespoke programmes or
integrated contributions to ongoing series, both factual and
08000 933 193 is a free phone number from a BT landline. Calls from other operators and mobile phone lines may incur a
BBC Press Office