I’ve been wondering for ages what it would take to bring about a wider public interest in the real lives of the learning disabled. Not a patronising Children in Need/Pride of Britain exposure. More a Ken Loach/Jimmy McGovern boot in the privates. A drama with a cast of thousands that includes the social workers, the health workers, the courts, the psychiatrist’s, the charities, the positive behaviour crowd, etc etc.
I’m old enough to remember when Cathy Come Home first aired. I remember lessons at school being cancelled to discuss issues the play raised. We talked about it at family get together. It was repeated yearly for several years after the initial transmission. Something changed in a big way. I don’t think that in 2015, with the schedules flooded with reality shows that a Cathy would even cause a ripple. Unless we could phone in and vote which of Cathy’s kids would be released from care. And win £25k in the bargain. Hearts and minds are very different to what they were in the Sixties.
On Friday, I spoke at a Best Interest Assessors event in Birmingham. The evening before, I had dinner with Wendy the BIA trainer. Like me, Wendy is a complete Court of Protection geek and over a simple meal, we talked about recent cases. I did the same event two years ago when Justice Baker was the main speaker. During the break, he told me he thought the Get Steven Home story was very filmatic. It was very funny seeing Wendy go all weak kneed over meeting her hero, Justice Baker, in a rather George Clooney fashion.
We talked how some judges like Justice Baker and Justice Peter Jackson are great writers. Real dramatists. Their judgments are fabulous page turners. They take you on a raw, brutal journey. Wendy told me how she had turned some judgments into “radio plays” for her students to wrestle with. I thought that was a great idea.
Later, in bed, I thought that some judgments could be presented in exactly the form they were written. A bit like Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads dramas. The legal arguments may need some editing but the cases are big stories. Always a matter of life and death. Always exploring major existential and philosophical issues. Always shocking and packed with emotion. Could it work? Six big cases given a series? Would it have any impact?
My fantasy is that they would start off like Bake Off. On a smaller channel with limited appeal. But then something would happen. And just possibly, hearts and minds might be engaged in a way that we thought had been lost forever.
Where is Dennis Potter when you need him.
From → Social Care