Social workers criticise “inaccuracies” in new Channel 4 drama Kiri

Some viewers have challenged the representation of the social worker profession, although others defended the new Channel 4 series, saying “drama is drama”

Sarah Lancashire, Kiri (Channel 4, EH)

Social workers have questioned the depiction of their profession in the first episode of new Channel 4 drama Kiri.

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The fictional series written by National Treasure screenwriter Jack Thorne centres on the abduction of a nine-year-old black girl named Kiri, who is about to be adopted by her white foster family.

Sarah Lancashire stars as an experienced – yet maverick – social worker named Miriam, who makes the ultimately tragic decision to allow Kiri an unsupervised visit to her birth grandparents, during which she goes missing.

Miriam is a chaotic, heavy-drinking social worker who takes her dog to work. But she is also a very caring and bright woman who made an informed decision in an attempt to fulfil Kiri’s cultural needs.

Writer Thorne said before the series aired that it was not his intention to depict social workers negatively. In fact, he told RadioTimes.com after a press screening that his mother was a carer for adults with learning difficulties when he was young.

“I grew up going to the day centre all the time and hanging out with her,” he explained. “When she was doing residential care we’d spend Christmas in a home, so I’ve always wanted to write about the caring professions.”

He went on to say that his mother has four children and her brother is a paranoid schizophrenic, so she has “literally spent her whole life caring for others”.

“I was trying to tell a story about someone who was real, who had flaws, but for whom caring was such an instinctive thing,” he said.

However, a review of the first episode of Kiri on the One Stop Social care professionals website challenged the show’s “significant inaccuracies”, which, the reviewer claims, “will only serve to further harm or distort our already embattled profession.”

Many social workers on Twitter also called out the drama for damaging the public’s perception of their work.

However, some people are of the opinion that it’s good drama and it’s not supposed to be realistic.

When contacted for comment, a Channel 4 spokesperson told RadioTimes.com: “Kiri is a complex and entirely fictional 4-part drama populated by fully-drawn, three-dimensional characters, each with their own human flaws and personal difficulties.

“The drama explores, among other topics, the vast pressures placed upon social workers and the very difficult job they do. Extensive background research was undertaken to ensure the themes explored within the drama were accurately and authentically portrayed and social workers, various departments within the police and charities were all consulted during the scriptwriting and development stages.”

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Kiri continues on Wednesday 17th January at 9pm on Channel 4