Is Best Interests based on a true story and where is it filmed?

Everything you need to know about the popular BBC drama...

Michael Sheen (right) and Shannon Horgan (left) surrounded by reporters on the set of Best Interests
(Image credit: BBC)

As the hit drama's final episode airs, viewers are asking if Best Interests is based on a true story and wondering where it's filmed.

The BBC's new drama Best Interests stars Sharon Horgan and Michael Sheen as parents to Marnie - played by Niamh Moriarty - and tells their devastating story as they are forced to make an impossible decision regarding their daughter's medical treatment.

Much like BBC fans want to know if The Sixth Commandment is a true story and where Beyond Paradise was filmed after the successful dramas aired, viewers are asking similar questions of the new compelling show. Here's everything we know about where Best Interests was filmed and if it's based on a true story.

Is Best Interests based on a true story?

Best Interests is not based on a true story, but it has been inspired by real-life events. Though the show's creators haven't shared which real-life cases they drew on, Hollie Dance - the mother of Archie Battersbee who had life-support treatment withdrawn in August 2022 - has praised the show.

12-year-old Archie was found unconscious at home by Hollie in April 2022 and died after four months in a coma, though his parents fought in the courts to give him more time on life support. Hollie has said that Best Interests highlights the situation that some parents are forced to face, saying in an interview with the BBC, "Unless you go through this, it's impossible to understand what the parents are going through." 

Writer Jack Thorne has said of Best Interests: "I wouldn't want to tell the story of a real couple going through this, a real family going through this, I think it would be too intrusive." But he added: "We spent a lot of time talking to people that had gone through it, talking to doctors. So there's an awful lot of people that have impacted on this show and whose stories are reflected in this show, but no one whose story’s in direct reflection, because that just wouldn't be fair."

He also shared that the idea for the story came from the show's executive producer Sophie Gardiner. He said: "I got very worried about the idea of parents versus the NHS – how you tell that story without stigma. So that you don't end up with just, 'These are the bad guys, these are the good guys.' How do you get inside that?

"And then the idea came through discussion of, 'Let's tell the story of a marriage and this couple that end up on a different side of the argument.' And then suddenly everything from there became a lot easier, because it became about how we captured them."

Meanwhile, one of the show's stars, Sharon Horgan, revealed to the Guardian how her own real-life experiences of her daughter contracting meningitis brought her performance to life.

She said: "While we thought we might lose her – as I was watching them trying to find a vein and get some antibiotics into her – I remember thinking: 'I don't care what happens – like, take off her limbs, whatever you need to do – just keep her alive'."

What is Best Interests about?

The four-part drama tells the story of Nicci and Andrew, who are fighting to keep their daughter Marnie alive after doctors decide it is in her 'best interests' to let her die. 

Nicci and Marnie hugging in a bed on Best Interests

(Image credit: BBC)

Marnie has a life-threatening condition and after a severe medical episode, the doctors say they want to stop treatment. However, Nicci and Andrew enter a battle in the courts to prevent this from happening.

The synopsis for the series reads: "A family faces a choice no parent wants to make. When your child is desperately ill, who decides what happens next? Heartbreaking drama with Sharon Horgan and Michael Sheen."

Sharon Horgan revealed to the BBC that she feels Best Interests is a timely piece of TV in light of the Covid pandemic, saying: "Best Interests broke me when I first read the script and then again after talking with Jack [Thorne] about it. Covid seems to have shone a closer light on the desperate inequalities that exist for our disabled community so this felt very timely."

Where is Best Interests filmed?

Much of the BBC show was filmed in Cleeve Hill, Cheltenham, a town in Gloucestershire - and the same place where characters Andrew and Nicci and their daughters live in the show.

Meanwhile, the cast and crew are also said to have filmed in London for the courthouse scenes, while production built the PICU set.

Filming took place over summer 2022, at which time Sharon Hogan and Michael Sheen were spotted filming scenes in Cheltenham. Per the MailOnline, the pair were seen cycling around the Gloucestershire town.

How many episodes of Best Interests are there?

There are four episodes of Best Interests in total. The first episode kicked off on Monday 12 June on BBC One at 9pm, with the second episode airing on Tuesday 13.

The final two episodes air on Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 June, though all four episodes will also be available to stream afterwards via BBC iPlayer for those in the UK. 

In other TV news, we've revealed what we know about a Ted Lasso spin-off and explained the show's ending, as well as shared the Celebrity Masterchef 2023 line-up.

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Ellie Hutchings
Family News Editor

Ellie is GoodtoKnow’s Family News Editor and covers all the latest trends in the parenting world - from relationship advice and baby names to wellbeing and self-care ideas for busy mums. Ellie is also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University. Previously, Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. When she’s not got her nose in a book, you’ll probably find Ellie jogging around her local park, indulging in an insta-worthy restaurant, or watching Netflix’s newest true crime documentary.