Mark Lewis welcomes Tuesday night's return for the BBC's flagship human interest documentary series
It has not reclaimed its prime time 9pm slot, but the new series of ONE Life (BBC1, 10.35pm) is a welcome return for the series which follows unremarkable people living remarkable lives. My Life on a Post-It Note followed the lives of Christine and Fiona, a mother and daughter living with Christine’s Alzheimer’s disease. The programme was done with humour and sensitivity, and a lack of the mawkishness, which would have been inevitable on another channel.
For every ratings-slut recommissioning of imagination-redundant formats like Little Britain, the BBC is still capable of screening (just) primetime television focussed on non-headline grabbing real people. On Channel 4, this would have been called, The Woman Who Kept on Forgetting Stuff. And so she was, but this programme was more concerned with Christine’s increasingly futile attempt to retain her independence.
For anybody who has watched a close relative suffer a degenerative brain disease, these were familiar themes. There were flashes of the type of woman Christine use to be as she held court with fellow sufferers, and could recognise their conversation was more Who’s on First, than The Symposium.
But there was also the petulance as their roles are inevitably inverted; the paranoia, as even the journalist becomes a suspect in the disappearence of Christine’s lost diary; and the final shedding of her independence as she stops seeking even to retain control of her ultimate human right. The saddest part came when Fiona realised she could take her mother to swim in the sea without wondering whether she was atill planning to try to kill herself.