Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Day the Good Life Has to End

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Day the Good Life Has to End

Article excerpt


Dad 8pm, BBC1

A DRAMA about the problems of growing old and, in particular, abuse of the elderly does not sound like a barrel of laughs.

And, indeed, it isn't - although it has many more humorous moments than you might expect - but don't be put off by that. This is a poignant portrait, with a fine cast, led by Richard Briers.

He plays octogenarian Larry who, despite his advanced years, is a sprightly, intelligent, amusing chap who is still fit enough to look after his wife, Jeannie, who is battling with the onset of Alzheimer's. But when Larry takes a tumble and breaks his ankle, their cosy set-up comes to an end. He ends up in hospital and Jeannie is taken to a home. Things will never be the same again. "You miss a stair and your whole life goes down the plughole," reflects Larry bleakly.

As a result, he moves in with his son Oliver, played by Kevin Whately, and wife Sandy (Sinead Cusack).

At first, everybody makes an effort and they all rub along nicely. But it soon becomes apparent that, lovely old boy though he is, Larry can also be infuriating. It is only small things - like his habit of coughing vigorously early each morning - but they slowly tear the family apart.

There are excellent performances (particularly from Briers) and a touching, humane script.

However, there are times when Oliver's character changes remarkably suddenly - though people can be like that - and the story doesn't so much reach a conclusion as reach an impasse. But this is an instructive story.

Which is exactly how it is supposed be, as it is part of Comic Relief 's Elder Abuse Campaign. But don't let that put you off, either.

The Real Exorcist/The Exorcism

10pm and 11.05pm, Channel 4

Whoopee, it's exorcism night on Channel 4.

First up is a documentary about American teenager Richard who, in 1949, was deemed to be possessed by the devil. It was the case that inspired William Peter Blatty to write The Exorcist, which became an infamous horror film in 1973.

The documentary (see picture, left) tells the story in a very gothic style but whether there is any evidence of the devil's work is doubtful. …

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