Help on Channel 4 is set to be the new must-watch drama as Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham join forces to create a poignant reminder of the pandemic’s early stages.
As British summertime winds down for another year, there’s nothing we look forward to more than a new TV drama to curl up on the sofa with in the evenings. Already this autumn we’ve been treated to new exciting series like the next episode of Nine Perfect Strangers and Vigil, which is filmed in Scotland and features Jodie’s Doctor Foster co-star Suranne Jones.
But Channel 4’s Help is really set to be one of the biggest hits of the year. Though with the narrative following the events within a care home during the initial coronavirus outbreak, it’s a programme that’s pegged to make for emotional viewing.
When is Help on Channel 4?
TV bosses have confirmed that Help will premiere on Channel 4 on Thursday 16 September at 9pm.
The one-off two hour drama was commissioned by Channel 4 in November last year, with filming taking place in early 2021.
The action takes place in March 2020, touching on the first UK lockdown and start of the Coronavirus pandemic.
What is Help about?
Help tells the story of care worker Sarah and her relationship with patient Tony during the outbreak of Coronavirus.
Sarah, who has struggled with a challenging upbringing and a feeling of never fitting in, lands an unexpected role as a carer at Sky Bright Home. It is here she finds her feet and a close bond with patient Tony – a 47-year-old man diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s. But all that is tested when March 2020 and the outbreak of coronavirus comes into play.
Alongside her colleagues at the home, Sarah works tirelessly. Coping with the confusion, pressure and devastating impact of Covid-19 in the care facility. With the trauma and circumstances of the pandemic taking their toll, Sarah finds herself close to breaking point. And looking for a way out.
The drama is written by BAFTA award-winning writer Jack Thorne (His Dark Materials, National Treasure) who has teamed up with BAFTA award-winning director Marc Munden (The Third Day, Utopia) for the piece.
Whilst the story is fictional, Help is based on the real events of last year. And writer Jack Thorne was keen to shine a light on the plight of those on the frontline in an honourable way.
“30,000 people have died unnecessarily in these care homes because of the indifference and incompetence of our government,” he said. “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.”
Help on Channel 4: Cast list
Jodie Comer plays Sarah
British actress Jodie Comer portrays care worker Sarah in Help.
You might recognise the 28-year-old for her BAFTA and Emmy award-winning performance as assassin Villanelle in BBC’s Killing Eve.
Speaking about her role and the series, Jodie said that the piece was close to home for her in more than one way.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
Stephen Graham plays Tony
Actor Stephen Graham will play Tony, one of the patients at the care home who is looked after by Sarah.
He rose to fame for playing Andrew ‘Combo’ Gascoigne in the film This is England and its three subsequent TV sequels. He’s also appeared in films Snatch, Gangs of New York, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Irishman. Whilst TV audiences will also recognise him from BBC’s Line of Duty, ITV’s White House Farm and US series Boardwalk Empire.
Another few familiar faces in the cast include…
- Angela Griffin (Cutting It, Coronation Street)
- Mike Noble (Mr Selfridge)
- John McGrelis (Brassic)
- Jackie Knowles (Doctors, Holby City)
Where is Help on Channel 4 filmed?
Help is filmed in Liverpool, England. With the action taking place in a fictional Liverpool care home.
The short drama received funding and support from Liverpool Film Office.
Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham were also seen shooting scenes for Help in Cheshire. The two were spotted filming some of the action in a caravan.
The Daily Mail reported that this particular set was to reflect the real-life situation of carers during the pandemic. Many moved into caravans or mobile homes. And this was to help reduce their chance of catching Covid and passing it on to patients.
How do Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham know each other?
Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham have worked together before. They both starred in 2012 TV series Good Cop.
It was during this stint that Stephen and Jodie, both from Liverpool, became friends. Stephen put his younger co-star in touch with his agent. It’s a move she later thanked him for in her 2019 BAFTA acceptance speech.
“I want to take this moment to thank Stephen Graham,” she said after winning Best Leading Actress for her role in Killing Eve. “Stephen, if I didn’t owe you a pint before, I definitely do now. Thank you for the generosity that you showed me all them years ago and for introducing me to Jane.
“Jane, you have encouraged and supported me ever since, and I cannot thank you enough.”
And Stephen said of the new series the two are starring in together, “I’ve wanted to work with Jodie for ages, and together we’re hugely passionate about shining a light on one of the biggest tragedies of our time and the people at the heart of it.”
Who is Jodie Comer?
Jodie Comer is a Liverpudlian actress, most famous for her role of Villanelle in the BBC drama Killing Eve. She won a BAFTA and Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for this role in 2019.
She’s also appeared in TV series Doctor Foster, My Mad Fat Diary, Thirteen and The White Princess. This September, Jodie is on the big screen alongside Ryan Reynolds in Hollywood blockbuster Free Guy.
Born in 1993, Jodie grew up in Liverpool’s Chidwell suburb and went to school in a neighbouring town. It was here that she first discovered her love of acting, after performing a monologue in a school play. She later going onto audition for a BBC Radio 4 play with the encouragement of her drama teacher.
Does Jodie Comer have a northern accent in real life?
Yes, Jodie Comer has a Liverpudlian accent in real life.
It’s a fact that came as a huge shock to fans following her role as Villanelle in Killing Eve. Throughout the three series of the show, the star switches from a Russian accent to French, German, English and many others, leaving fans bewildered as to which one is her real accent.
Speaking to Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield on This Morning recently, Jodie commented on how she uses her real accent in Help. “It’s funny because I’ve always been like, ‘if I’m doing a character, it’s best if I lose my accent’,” she said.
But she added that with her new series, which is shot in Liverpool, “We wanted it to be very immersive and we wanted it to feel very real.”
Does Jodie Comer have a partner?
Yes, Jodie Comer’s boyfriend is American lacrosse player James Burke.
She has remained very private about her dating life throughout her career and doesn’t share photos of her boyfriend on social media. But the actress told Marie Claire Australia in December last year that “everything has fallen into place” after meeting the sportsman earlier that year.
And when asked by the Sunday Times about being in love, Jodie replied, “Yeah. You know, I would never want to speak badly about people in my past, but yeah, this relationship feels very different. This feels like nothing else.
“When you actually feel it, you’re like, ‘Ahhh, so this is what it feels like!’ And it was special.”
She says that James “isn’t in the public eye at all” though and works in tech full time.
The two met at a party over the summer of 2020 while she was shooting Free Guy in Boston.