Now and again a programme comes on that is both life-affirming and an absolute pleasure to watch. This is what happened when Channel 4 aired the first episode of its documentary series, THE RESTARAUNT THAT MAKES MISTAKES
Food shows have now become all very samey and dull to watch in a very overcrowded genre. The difference here though is that this was a documentary focusing on dementia. Based in Bristol, this was a daring social experiment to see if a fully functioning restaurant could be staffed by sufferers of dementia. It would be run by Michelin-starred chef Josh Eggleton, and they would be continually assessed by dementia specialist Dr Zoe Wvrko.
Fourteen volunteers with various stages and types of dementia had been selected for this five-week experiment. There was young Jordan aged twenty-three years old who had been diagnosed with Pick’s Disease. Another sufferer we were introduced to was Avril, who had been forced to give up her amazing career in medicine due to her rare form of dementia. Very emotively, we were told how her once amazing achievements in Obstetrics, had given way to her now struggling to remember simple things such as her age.
Straight away this programme pulled at the heartstrings when some of the volunteers spoke directly to camera, with how their lives had changed due to their dementia. The words that really got me going came from fifty-five-year-old Lorayne Burgess.
Lorayne refused to feel like a victim as she said, ‘we can do it, we just got to believe we can do it….we have a choice, you either lay down and die or you get up and you fight!’
The makers of this first episode struck exactly the right tone. Throughout, it was profoundly moving without ever being maudlin or over-the-top. It was educational and informative without ever being boring. It was surprisingly uplifting without ever being too cheery.
The heart-breaking effects of dementia were dealt with directly and not pussyfooted around which needs applauding, but at the heart of it this was a programme about hope. Meaning that your life does not have to be over upon the diagnosis of dementia.
Contrasting with the sadness were the scenes of jubilation after the volunteers had completed their first service successfully. You were instantly on their side wanting them to do well.
This programme was not exploitative in any way and there was never any freak show element to it when there could have been. How could you not like such a show that has such altruistic values running right through it?
This is a programme where Channel 4 really needs congratulating. Having lost my grandmother to dementia some years ago, I found it profoundly moving throughout. It was also uplifting though in a way that I had never expected it to be prior to watching. A big well done to all those involved!
- You can catch up on All 4.