Is Help a true story? Inspiration behind Channel 4 care home drama starring Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham

Comer and Graham’s characters form a close bond in this emotional drama series, set against the backdrop of the Covid pandemic

Channel 4’s new film, Help, starring Stephen Graham (Save Me, This is England) and Jodie Comer (Killing Eve, Doctor Foster) reflects on life in a care home during the darkest days of the Covid pandemic.

Exploring the bond between carer and resident, it highlights the struggles they faced during a time of frightening uncertainty

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But is the drama based on a true story? This is what you need to know.

What is Help about?

Help tells the story of young care worker Sarah (Jodie Comer), who has struggled to feel accepted until she takes on a job as a carer in Bright Skies Care Home, Liverpool.

She sparks a surprising relationship with 47-year-old Tony (Stephen Graham), who suffers from early-onset Alzheimer’s and has experienced sudden violent and aggressive outbursts since moving into the care home.

The Covid pandemic hits in March 2020 and the relationships between staff, patients and their families intensifies.

Sarah and her colleagues, who are ill-equipped, poorly prepared and unsupported, struggle to look after their patients, whose conditions make their suffering seem even more traumatic.

She goes to great lengths to care for them, but the unwavering commitment of the staff can only do so much and Sarah’s resilience is pushed to its limits, making her look for a way out.

Is Help a true story?

While the impact of the very real and ongoing Covid Pandemic is felt throughout Help, the characters, settings and storyline are fictional.

Written by BAFTA award-winning writer Jack Thorne (His Dark Materials, National Treasure), Help was inspired by the struggle that care home staff and residents faced during the worst moments of the pandemic.

Thorne has however expressed his ambitions to retell the story of the how the pandemic unfolded in care homes across the country in a way that would “do it justice.”

Thorne explained to Channel 4: “30,000 people have died unnecessarily in these care homes because of the indifference and incompetence of our government.

“Hearing the stories of those at the frontline, having people break down in tears on zoom in front of us has been incredibly moving and galling.

"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.”

Comer has also told how she felt about playing a character which was so relatable to so many people.

She said in an interview with Channel 4: “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.”

Graham added that the cast and crew of Helpare “hugely passionate about shining a light on one of the biggest tragedies of our time and the people at the heart of it.”

When is Help on TV?

Help will air on Channel 4 on Thursday 16 September at 9pm.