Sunderland Echo - - Opinion -

n the UK, women make up 70 per cent of de­men­tia car­ers - and 20 per cent of those go from full-time to part-time work in or­der to do it. It’s these statis­tics that writer Gil­lian Juckes wanted to fo­cus on in new 90-minute drama Care, which will air on BBC One, and stars Sheri­dan Smith, Ali­son Stead­man and Sinead Keenan.

Al­though a fic­tional ac­count, the topic is some­thing she’s had ex­pe­ri­ence with - and it makes for a heartwrench­ing watch.

“We’re not treat­ing de­men­tia with the dig­nity it de­serves,” de­clares Juckes, who co-wrote the one-off pro­gramme with Jimmy McGovern (he’s penned hit dra­mas such as The Street and Bro­ken).

“It’s an ill­ness, like cancer is an ill­ness, and peo­ple are suf­fer­ing; they’re not get­ting the right care.”

Smith, 37, plays Jenny, a moth­erof-two raising her girls alone af­ter the de­par­ture of her hus­band Dave.

She re­lies heav­ily on her wid­owed mum Mary (played by Ali­son Stead­man) for help with child­care, so that she can work full-time at a su­per­mar­ket.

But when Mary suf­fers a dev­as­tat­ing stroke and de­vel­ops de­men­tia, Jenny finds her life com­pletely changed; sud­denly, she is re­spon­si­ble for look­ing af­ter her mum, and her daugh­ters, and can­not carry on work­ing.

Plus, she soon re­alises she has a fight on her hands when it comes to get­ting the best care for Mary along with some tough choices to make.

Smith, and her co-star, Ir­ish ac­tress Keenan, are asked if they tried to laugh in be­tween takes on set for Care, to de­tract from how dark the ma­te­rial was.

“I think ev­ery ac­tor takes it dif­fer­ently and does their own thing,”

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