SUN­DAY 9 De­cem­ber, 9pm BBC1 Drama

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Ali­son Stead­man and Sheri­dan Smith star as mother and daugh­ter in this new one-off drama. Sheri­dan plays Jenny, who’s left to raise her two daugh­ters alone af­ter her hus­band, Dave, walks out. Her life­line is her wid­owed mum, Mary, but when Mary has a stroke and de­vel­ops de­men­tia, ev­ery­thing changes for Jenny…

The emo­tional strain of look­ing af­ter a sick loved one and the chal­lenges faced by the NHS and the so­cial-care sys­tem are ex­plored in BBC1’s one-off drama Care.

Writ­ten by Jimmy McGovern and Gil­lian Juckes, it cen­tres on sprightly widow Mary, played by Ali­son Stead­man, who suf­fers a mas­sive stroke while driv­ing her grand­daugh­ters home.

As Mary is rushed to hos­pi­tal, her daugh­ters Jenny

(Sheri­dan Smith) and Claire

(Sinead Keenan) are shocked by the change in their mother, who is left paral­ysed down one side and no longer able to speak clearly.

‘She’s a lively, en­er­getic woman and sud­denly she has this stroke and it changes her life to­tally,’ says Ali­son. ‘When you love some­body and you see them be­come a dif­fer­ent per­son, it’s painful to wit­ness.’


Af­ter the hos­pi­tal have done all they can, cash-strapped Jenny tries to care for her mother at home, while jug­gling the de­mands in her own life. How­ever, as Mary’s needs prove too much for her to cope with and a respite stay in a care home is dis­as­trous, ten­sions rise be­tween Jenny and Claire. They soon em­bark on a fight with the sys­tem to get Mary the best care they can.

‘This drama looks at how they cope, and how the NHS copes when it’s so stretched,’ says Ali­son. ‘It’s dif­fi­cult be­cause she needs at­ten­tion round the clock. It’s about finding the right care.’

Al­though play­ing Mary was gru­elling, the Gavin & Stacey star was thrilled to tackle the role.

‘It was a chal­lenge, but one I ap­proached with rel­ish,’ says Ali­son. ‘It’s hard learn­ing to speak “gob­blede­gook”, but it makes you think as well as see life from a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive. Hope­fully this show will be a wake-up call for peo­ple.’

Fam­ily ties… Ali­son Stead­man (left) and Sheri­dan Smith

Stressed… Claire misses her old mum Dis­as­trous…A care home is not the right fit for Mary Car­ing… Jennydoes her best Tough… Ali­son en­joyed the role

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