BBC to air Tony Slattery's mental health film | As part of a season about the topic

BBC to air Tony Slattery's mental health film

As part of a season about the topic

A film about Tony Slattery is to be a cornerstone of a new BBC season about mental health.

The Corporation is curating a range of programming across next month to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, which kicks off on May 18, including the hour-long documentary.

It will chart Slattery’s decline from being a major comedy star of the 1990s, known for his fast-witted improvisational skills on Channel 4’s Whose Line Is It Anyway.

But by the turn of the millennium, he’d had a breakdown and completely vanished from public life. Bipolar disorder was discussed but, at the time, Tony was also struggling with cocaine and alcohol addiction, making a  clear diagnosis impossible.

This film, part of BBC Two’s flagship science strand Horizon, follows Slattery and his partner of 35 years, Mark Hutchinson, as they visit the UK’s leading experts on mood disorders and addiction in the hope of getting some clarity on the problems that have dogged his life.

The programme will also explore new developments in the science of complex mood disorders, including the relative impact of genetics versus environment in the development of mental health issues.

When the film was first announced in November, Slattery said: ‘I know that I am not unique in trying to cope with mental ill health and my main hope is that viewers will find the programme informative and helpful. That after all is the point of doing it.’


Katie Buchanan, who is executive producing the film for Sundog Pictures, added: ‘The challenges Tony faces are reflected in the lives of countless other people with mental health and addiction issues who may not have received a clear diagnosis or been able to access the right support. 

‘We, like Tony, hope that the film will reduce stigma, help others in similar situations and bring to the fore what it is like to live with such complex mental health issues.’

Other programmes to be aired during the month include a show about tackling mental health problems with The Duke of Cambridge and repeats of films on the topic including Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum And Dad, Alastair Campbell: Depression And Me and Killed By My Debt.

BBC director-general, Tony Hall said: ‘Mental health is important - and during this pandemic more important than ever. Many people may be struggling alone, they may be worried about maintaining their own well-being or want to better equip themselves to help loved ones. 

‘That’s why bringing mental health issues out into the open is so important. Our programmes aim to do just that. They highlight the issues affecting many and will hopefully help people seek the support they need.

‘The BBC wants to help. Hopefully, these programmes will make a real difference. I want to thank all the contributors who have generously shared their personal stories with the BBC.’ 

Published: 30 Apr 2020

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