Expecting Trouble

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Episode 2 of 3

Duration: 1 hour

Follows Bristol's child protection teams over the course of a year to see frontline work first-hand and explore how the crises of the last decade have had an impact on their ability to safeguard children.

Social worker Annie must ensure the protection of the unborn child of Shaun and Marva, a couple who live far beyond the realms of normal society. However she can only see them with two security guards in support.

A heart-rending story that goes to the core of the issues facing a modern welfare system.

  • The making of Protecting Our Children

    The making of Protecting Our Children

    "It took months of hard work to try and persuade people to take part to show the real nitty gritty of the actual cases with families."

    Read series producer Sacha Mirzoeff's post on the BBC TV blog
  • The challenges for the production team

    We always knew from the outset this was going to be a tall mountain to climb. There were many moments when it seemed impossible we would ever complete the series.
    Before filming could begin, we needed permission to film with other institutions, aside from the social workers in Bristol City Council, to ensure we reflect the multi-agency nature of modern child protection. That meant collaborating with the police, the NHS, mental health trusts, schools, housing, CAFCASS guardians and foster carers to name but a few.  
    During filming we respected every individual’s decision about whether they wanted to take part or not.  In stories that developed over many months we knew we could never expect every professional to want to participate in filming.  As a result we often worked around people, ensuring they would not be included in the shots.  In other cases we were requested not to film at all.  The issues at stake for the families and the social workers were sometimes so grave that it made it easy to understand.  With each of the people who did agree to take part, we offered a system called rolling consent, whereby they could pull out at any point in the process. 
    During editing the challenge of how to faithfully represent the facts of a developing case which changes over many months and then condense it down into one single hour was vast.  The result can only ever tell part of a story, as clearly we couldn’t consider including every meeting or every home visit from the social workers or other professionals. However it was crucial that we felt the audience could feel like they were there, as eye witnesses to a complex chain of events.
    Finally we offered to show the films to all the contributors, professionals and legal teams when they were virtually complete. This ensured that they were factually correct and that everyone thought we had portrayed the events in a fair and balanced way, while ensuring we still maintained editorial control.


Lesley Sharp
Executive Producer
Julian Mercer
Sacha Mirzoeff
Series Producer
Sacha Mirzoeff


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