02 January 2019

2nd January 1957 - 1st British Mental Illness TV programme (reviews)


Reading the television section in newspapers on 2nd January 1957 readers would have seen reviews of the first part of a six part series called The Hurt Mind. It was the first British television series about mental illness and the first episode was called "Put Away", and was aired on 1st January. This was in the days before most people had a Television Receiver.

Much of the series came from inside Warlingham Park Hospital, in Surrey, and showed Christopher Mayhew, the interviewer. The cameras were not allowed to show patients' faces - they were only shown from the neck down.

 The review in the Liverpool Echo is typical in its praise, and the hope the series would help break down barriers, "It is right that we should know of the existence of such places. But it should be remembered that this series must have as its objective the breaking down of the barriers of misunderstanding surrounding the problem. Its aim must not be to scare viewers away from the subject. I have nothing but praise for Mavhew's handling of the interviews in last night's programme."

 Interviews included:

  • Gerald describing how the war drove him to alcoholism
  • Sidney describing how he became "persecuted by a wizard"
  • Mary, a teacher, telling of her "irrational fears" and how her parents found it "difficult to understand".

Thankyou to https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk for the date and TV reviews, and Mental Health History Timeline for the descriptions of some of the patients shown. The 4th programme in the series can still be viewed on youtube.

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