Last week my involvement with the BBC TV ‘Casualty’ storyline was mentioned on “This Morning”. You can listen to the few minute interview here
One of the main characters, in this long standing hospital programme, ‘Sister Duffy’, is finally diagnosed with Dementia. Although, I’ve been involved for some time, I couldn’t write a real time blog about my meetings as it was top secret in the TV world.
Anyway, now the story is out, I can put together the blogs I wrote but didn’t publish (big letters next to them of DO NOT PUBLISH), to tell you how my involvement came about…….
So for me it all started about a year ago, when my book first came out. However, the storyline was already being researched with Dementia UK as well as my lovely friend, Suzy Webster, whose mother lives with dementia – and those are the ones I know about. It was at Suzy’s suggestion that they actually contacted someone with dementia. Since my book had just come out, I was in the media a bit and I imagine this was how they came upon my name.
I don’t remember how or when I was first approached but here’s what I typed at the first meeting…….no piccies, as I can’t be trusted not to share those 🤣
“Well Monday 11th June 2018 was our first face to face meeting. I trundled down to London to meet the Story Producers and the Story editors. The planning had been meticulous and Beth, one of the editors had been so careful in arranging travel and the venue. Beth said in an email:
“ I’ve been informed by a friend that it’s a nice place and quiet on weekdays. I’ve spoken to the staff and they have assured me it’s pretty chilled at lunch times and have set aside a booth at the back for us.”
I even received a walking map from the station or they would have met me at the station and walked with me.
The perfect start.
Anyway, it was a gloriously sunny June day, probably far from the weather when I can finally reveal this blog! – (ha! Very funny as I didn’t know back then when I would reveal it)
I used the map and en route had a txt from Beth to say she was sat outside the café waiting for me. I was met by 3 lovely people in a wonderfully quiet café, with a table reserved for us at the back. It felt like we were as far away from the hustle and bustle of Kings Cross as we could possibly be. Yet outside the café was the usual chaos of the London street.
The icing on the cake was to see they sold Yorkshire Tea……..❤️…..could the day get any better……..⭐️
We sat for a couple of hours, discussing likely plots and plans for inclusion, with them making various notes and asking many questions. I didn’t type on purpose so I wouldn’t give anything away. I remember little of the conversation. What I do remember is being in the relaxed company of 3 wonderfully warm and kind people, all willing to listen, learn and contribute their ideas. “
And all was going fine, with scripts being sent for me to read and comment on, but then things started to go downhill………
Such is the world of TV, that teams change, writers change, and I suddenly felt uneasy with the way the storyline was going. All this time, I was in contact Beth Grant, the story editor, who has remained a constant during the process. She is also a lovely, lovely person. I decided sadly to end my involvement and I thought that would be the end of it. Many promises were made that never came to fruition. Can’t remember what, why, the timescale or the detail, but remember feeling very sad.
Then a few months ago, (probably 🙄😂)I received another email from Beth asking if I would reconsider joining them again. Amidst many changes, she thought I could, once again, influence the writers.
And so it was that we met once more in London at the same café that served Yorkshire tea 😍
Someone new with her this time who had also read my book, one of the writers. I felt a different atmosphere from the last few months, a need to get things right and hopefully listening to what I was saying. I didn’t type much on this occasion as the proof would be in the scripts I was sent as to whether any notice was being taken.
As the scripts came through I began to feel happier. I didn’t and probably won’t meet the actress playing Duffy, which I find sad, but then someone said to me how some actors prefer not to meet people direct. I just hope she’s done lots of homework on how to play someone with her type of dementia. After all a wonderful script is only as good as the actor playing the part.
The storyline will go on for many months, I’m pleased to say. What I did learn was how complicated the TV world is and how the unlikeliest events can change the progress of the script, totally unbeknown to the viewers.
There will always be people who don’t agree with certain episodes or certain bits, but knowing what I know now, I can see why some things happen as they do. Overall, I’m very happy with the way it turned out, the twists and turns, the ups and downs. As for whether, if, or when it will all end………well…………..keep watching…….there’s a long way to go with many good scenes on the way…..and it will be just as much a surprise to me by then as to you………