SUNDAY 9 December, 9pm BBC1 Drama
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