Help is coming to Channel 4 and tells the heartbreaking story of care home worker Sarah and care home patient Tony before and during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Channel 4’s new drama Help is set to celebrate the unsung heroes of the Covid-19 pandemic and reflect on the devastating affects the crisis had upon the nation’s care homes. Starring Jodie Comer, who is set to return to the BBC in the upcoming Killing Eve season 4, and Line of Duty star Stephen Graham as Sarah and Tony respectively, their performances bring this tragic time to life in a brilliantly sensitive way. Though undoubtedly focused on intensely difficult events, Jodie has reportedly told the PA News Agency that there is also a “lot of joy” in the script, with “light moments” for viewers to enjoy. And with the premiere now almost here, this compelling drama is not one to miss this autumn.
But when is Help on Channel 4, what’s it about and who’s in the cast? We reveal all you need to know about this poignant new film.
*Warning: spoilers ahead!*
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When is Help on Channel 4?
Help will be broadcast on Channel 4 on Thursday September 16 at 9pm and will also be available to stream on All 4. The new drama is feature length at 98 minutes long and tells an incredibly moving story, though the bond between care home worker Sarah and patient Stephen especially is one of great warmth.
Jodie Comer & @StephenGraham73 star in #Help, the new drama from BAFTA award-winning @jackthorne & director @marcmunden.Tonight at 9pm on Channel 4. Stream free on All 4. pic.twitter.com/NwqXE5e0b8September 16, 2021
What is Help about?
Channel 4’s new drama Help focuses on life during the Covid-19 pandemic, telling the story of care assistant Sarah, played masterfully by Jodie Comer, and her bond with care home patient Tony, played by Stephen Graham. Set in a fictional care home in Liverpool, Bright Sky Homes, Sarah secures her job after making her way through a disastrous interview.
Though she soon shows she has the compassion to connect with the care home’s residents, particularly Tony, a man who is living with Young-Onset Alzheimer's.
Trying to keep going throughout the challenges the pandemic poses, Sarah can’t help feeling helpless in this harrowing and important drama. As her colleagues are forced to self-isolate amid the escalating crisis, in one scene Sarah is understood to find herself working a night shift all alone, struggling to cope with the magnitude of what’s going on.
Help's writer, Jack Thorne, has previously opened up about wanting to write something for stars Jodie and Stephen for a while and thought the crisis was a story that needed to be told on screen.
“About two years ago Stephen Graham came to me with an idea to write something for him and Jodie Comer,” he said, as reported by the RadioTimes (opens in new tab). “I tried to think of something and got nothing.”
He continued, “Then this crisis happened, and we saw care homes getting squashed and battered by the government. It’s been both a long process and a short one, trying to find a way to tell this story, the amazing thing has been sharing in working out the story with Stephen, Jodie, the amazing Marc Munden, Beth Willis and everyone at the Forge and Channel 4.”
Sharing his thoughts regarding bringing such a poignant drama to life, Jack explained, “Getting the story right will be incredibly important, we are aware of the pressure upon us, this has to be written and made with anger and precision. We hope we do it justice.”
Though undoubtedly heartbreaking, Help reflects the events of the past year with compelling acting from Jodie and Stephen making this one to watch.
Who are Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham in Help?
Jodie Comer has become best known in recent years for her portrayal of Russian master assassin Villanelle in Killing Eve. And whilst her talent for accents is undeniable in this iconic role, her own Liverpudlian accent comes to the fore for her portrayal of Sarah in Channel 4’s Help. Having found her calling as a carer in a Liverpool care home, Sarah has forged wonderful connections with the patients, including Tony, played by Stephen Graham.
Though when the Covid-19 pandemic hits, things soon take a challenging turn as the drama shows the full horror of the impact the virus had upon the nation’s care homes and their patients.
As reported by the RadioTimes, Jodie opened up as the drama was announced, paying tribute to the Liverpool setting and their determination to do “justice” to the stories of those who have been affected by the Covid-19 crisis.
“I am, of course, thrilled to finally be working alongside Stephen and the supremely talented Jack, Marc and those at Channel 4,” she explained. “For us to be able to explore such a relevant and emotive story through the eyes of such beautifully real characters, and in our home city of Liverpool, is a real honour.
“We’re determined to do justice to so many of the untold stories and heroes that have been affected as a result of this crisis and to handle them with care.
Stephen Graham, known to Line of Duty fans as police officer John Corbett in the hit series, acts opposite Jodie as care home patient Tony in Help. Tony lives with Young-Onset Alzheimer’s and Stephen has previously revealed the care he’s taken to portray this important character with respect and sensitivity in the drama.
During an interview with The Times (opens in new tab), the actor described his role as Tony as a “joy”, but that he “wanted to get it right”. He is understood to have researched the role during lockdown and attended Zoom support group meetings, as Jodie is thought to have done with care home workers.
Disclosing that Help’s director was determined to see Stephen bring the right level of vulnerability to the role, the actor shared that he told him, “Just trust me. Trust me. Watch what I do”, and that there was “beauty” in the director affirming that he did trust him to bring the role of Tony to life.
We were delighted to work with the team from new drama 'Help' to understand what it is like to live with young-onset #dementia. Here @StephenGraham73 talks about the time he spent with RDS and what we do. Catch 'Help' on @Channel4 this Thursday!! 📺🔎https://t.co/EyotkA9r9K pic.twitter.com/E1J4aMJzRMSeptember 14, 2021
Speaking to The Big Issue, Stephen also discussed the importance of the film and what it means for everyone who went through similarly heartbreaking experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We knew we were part of something that had a voice and it was our duty to give it everything. This was based on real experiences. So we had an obligation to get it right,” he declared.
Who else is in the cast of Help on Channel 4?
Help cast list:
- Sarah—Jodie Comer
- Tony—Stephen Graham
- Steve—Ian Hart
- Gloria—Sue Johnston
- Gaynor—Lesley Sharp
- Polly—Cathy Tyson
- Bob—Andrew Schofield
- Tim—Arthur Hughes
- Tori—Angela Griffin
- Kenny—Steve Garti
Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham are joined in the Help cast by many other talented actors, including Angela Griffin (Waterloo Road, Holby City) as Tori, one of Sarah’s fellow care assistants.
According to RadioTimes (opens in new tab), Ian Hart (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) will be playing Steve, the manager and owner of Bright Sky Care Homes and Sarah’s boss. Other actors in the Help cast reportedly include Sue Johnston (The Royle Family) as Gloria, a resident at the care home who is living with Dementia and Steve Garti (The Pursuit of Love) as her fellow resident, Kenny, who is close friends with Tony.
Lesley Sharp, who starred alongside Gentleman Jack’s Suranne Jones in ITV crime drama Scott & Bailey, is thought to be playing Sarah’s mother Gaynor opposite Andrew Schofield (Scully) as Sarah’s father Bob. Whilst Arthur Hughes (The Innocents) will portray care assistant Tim and Cathy Tyson (Doctors) plays resident Polly, who still performs and writes poetry.
Watch Channel 4's Help trailer
Channel 4 first released a trailer for Help in August, with the 20 second long clip giving viewers an insight into the Liverpool care home during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Opening with Jodie as Sarah, wearing her care assistant uniform as the ominous words, “March 2020” flash on screen, we hear someone announcing that they need to talk to them all about Covid-19 protocols.
As Tony appears on screen, he asks simply, “Am I going to be ok?” as the scenes flashing in and out become ever more fast-paced. Running down a darkened corridor alone after sanitizing her hands, Sarah is heard requesting urgent medical assistance. The heartbreaking Help trailer draws to a close as she breaks down, revealing, “No one’s coming".
This new one-off drama reflects the commitment and vital work of the care home workers throughout the pandemic and the tragic impact the early stages had upon them, the home and their residents.
Help airs on Channel 4 at 9pm on September 16 and will be available to stream on All 4.
Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.
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