Powerful new short film shows the amazing impact of music on early-onset dementia sufferer

Untold—Keith, gives a unique insight into living with early-onset dementia

musical notes on pink background
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Raising awareness on World Alzheimer's Day, Manchester Camerata has premiered a poignant new short film that shows the impact of living with early-onset dementia. 

The unique Manchester-based orchestra focuses on putting community impact front and centre and has recently launched its pioneering music café. The café is held weekly in the beautiful Great Nave at the Monastery in Gorton, East Manchester and is run as a weekly music workshop. It helps support local residents who are living with dementia and also provides important respite and support for their at-home dementia carers and family members. 

Whilst many people around the world continue to wonder if we'll ever find a cure for Alzheimer's, now on World Alzheimer's Day, Manchester Camerata has released the second episode as part of its ongoing ‘Untold’ digital film series, titled Untold—Keith. This explores life with early-onset dementia and is inspired by Keith, a man based in Wigan whom the Orchestra met back in 2018 at one of its creative music-making sessions. 

Once a coach driver for football clubs all across the northwest of England, Keith was also a member of the grenadier guard and a huge music fan. In Untold—Keith, viewers are given a meaningful insight into how dementia affects not only his own life, but that of his beloved wife Joan. 

The deeply personal account also reflects upon the brilliantly transformative ways that music helps him on a daily basis. Creating a narrative inspired by Keith’s experience, this powerful film provides a musical and visual response to early onset dementia and raises awareness on World Alzheimer's Day.

Untold-Keith featuring Manchester Camerata

(Image credit: (c) Manchester Camerata)

Untold—Keith stars Neil Bell as Keith and Carla Henry as Joan, with Coronation Street icon Julie Hesmondhalgh as the narrator. Throughout the film, Manchester Camerata also perform selected classical music, ranging from Mozart to Schubert and Handel, all chosen by Keith himself.

The release of the film comes just weeks after the Orchestra launched its new Music Café, extending its vital community work to support those living with dementia and at-home carers. 

Manchester Camerata also continues its dementia research partnership with The University of Manchester, which has proven first-hand how music helps empower people living with dementia.

Untold - Keith starring Neil Bell

(Image credit: (c) Manchester Camerata)

Speaking out about the insightful new film, Keith declared, “I was blown away with the production. It brought me to tears. The way Neil Bell portrayed me was so true and lifelike. Neil’s actions throughout the production were so lifelike, people in my bubble all said it was me to a tee. Also, the way Julie Hesmondhalgh did the voiceover was excellent.

“Thank you again for all everyone's efforts in keeping me safe and comfortable throughout our time together," he added. "I don’t say it often but thank you and love to everyone for helping me understand my dementia. It was difficult to explain just how my brain works to people but you executed me perfectly.”

Each film in the Untold series tells a very different story, though they all address the universal themes of identity, love, loss, community, belonging and inequality. The first episode was released in October last year and featured Caroline Pether, the leader of the Manchester Camerata, who shared her journey to acceptance as a gay, Christian woman.

Untold—Keith and Untold—Caroline are both available to watch on YouTube now.

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use , Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!