Best known as Tony Blair’s formidable spin doctor, Alastair Campbell has suffered from bouts of severe depression throughout his life.
In a new BBC2 documentary marking Mental Health Awareness week, Campbell sets out to find a cure for depression, while learning about the impact of his depressions on those around him.
Here’s everything you need to know about Alastair Campbell: Depression and Me.
When is Alastair Campbell: Depression and Me on TV?
Alastair Campbell: Depression and Me will air on BBC2 on Tuesday 21st May at 9pm.
What is Alastair Campbell: Depression and Me about?
Campbell has had depression all his life, and has found that there’s only so much therapy and anti-depresants can do for him. Encouraged by his partner Fiona and his daughter Grace, Campbell goes on a quest — featuring candid video diaries — to discover what the latest science can offer him and countless others living with depression.
“I’ve been on antidepressants for years and years and none of them can stop it,” Campbell said in a statement. “I want to understand my depression and find out if modern science has any better ways of treating it. I’m hoping there’s something out there that can help me lead a happier life.”
Who is Alistair Campbell?
A former journalist, Campbell was recruited by Tony Blair to work as campaign director for New Labour, before working as Director of Communications for Downing Street.
Since leaving government, Campbell has worked again as a journalist and as an adviser for mental health charities. In recent years he’s been an adviser to the People’s Vote campaign, demanding a final say on Brexit.
Citing a recent Britain Thinks poll that found 64 per cent of people think Brexit damages their mental health, RadioTimes.com asked Campbell whether he found the same to be true for him and those around him.
“Definitely,” he said. “I mean how many times do you wake up — I wake up all the time at the moment — now I know I’m obsessed right, but I wake up every day, thinking about Brexit. Now I’m not alone. And if you think about if you’ve got a small business and you’ve been worrying about No Deal…
“Politics always gives rise to anxiety,” he added. “If you think about, when I was growing up, what was the big political backdrop, it was the Cold War.
“If ever anything came up about Russia and America and nuclear weapons, people would go, oh god, bit scary. Well at the moment, it’s Brexit and austerity… I think Brexit is the biggest single catastrophe of modern times, if it happens.”
What is the BBC doing for Mental Health Awareness week?
The BBC has commissioned a slate of personal documentaries exploring what it is to live with mental health issues. Alongside Depression and Me, Great British Bake Off star Nadiya Hussain will open up about her struggles with anxiety, while in Psychosis and Me, former Homeland actor David Harewood sets out to piece together what happened to him 30 years ago sectioned following a mental breakdown — much of which he doesn’t remember.