BBC One documentary Freddie Flintoff: Living with Bulimia had a big impact with viewers on Monday, with some predicting the TV presenter and cricketing legend’s story will save lives.
Flintoff, 42, told a very personal story about his battle with the eating disorder that primarily involves binge-eating and forced vomiting, but can also manifest itself with abuse of laxatives and excessive exercise routines.
He talked to a psychologist about his struggle with self-image and had to Google search “fat Flintoff” to find images of himself as a young man to illustrate his lifelong anxiety.
The Ashes-winning cricket hero said he hadn’t been in control of his eating for 20 year: “Every time I eat I feel guilty.”
Initially in the documentary he wasn’t convinced he could, or even needed to, change, but after his experiences talking to fellow sufferers he ultimately chose to take action and confront his disorder.
Viewers emphasised the importance of the documentary.
#FreddieFlintoff is going to save lives with this documentary.
— ???????????? ???????????? (@stevengrocock) September 28, 2020
One fellow sufferer summed up the feeling of many viewers on social media. It was “a documentary needed for a long time… One thing that helped me on the road to recovery was realising I was not alone”.
A documentary needed for a long time, I have no doubts he and those who’ve participated in this programme tonight will save lives. One thing that helped me on the road to recovery was realising I was not alone. #FreddieFlintoff #LivingWithBulimia
— Jess, Meg & Mum. (@Jessmegandmum) September 28, 2020
The Top Gear co-presenter’s hour-long documentary was “an incredibly courageous thing to do”.
I hope that so many people watch this and think about the impact of their words and behaviour on others. Such an incredibly courageous thing to do #FreddieFlintoff ???????? #mentalhealth #bekind https://t.co/UxEyjwyzIi
— Kate Davies (@KateDavies_UK) September 28, 2020
Many commented on the misperception that bulimia was a predominately female eating disorder.
This #freddieflintoff documentary about his eating disorder is so sad I never associate this problem with men but it happens and it’s so upsetting????????
— Olivia Lavelle???? (@olivialavelle1) September 28, 2020
The documentary posted the stark info-graphic that “60% of men with an eating disorder don’t seek help”.
— Fazz Zia (@Fazz_Zia) September 28, 2020
Social media reaction was unanimously positive about the “amazing” documentary.
— Adam Fare (@adamfare1996) September 28, 2020
The message that sufferers were not alone was reinforced in the programme and on social media.
A brutal and honest account of bulimia. @flintoff11 and @BBCOne need congratulating for giving this a higher profile. It seems he's getting the support he needs. Body image has a lot to answer for! ???? Don't be ashamed to speak up! ❤ #bulimia #FreddieFlintoff #legend
— John Leslie (@john_leslie1979) September 28, 2020
For one viewer it “brought old unresolved feelings back… That was me 30 years ago. I’m fatter but happy, healthy & recovered. I pray he finds a way to be happy in his skin too”.
Watching #FreddieFlintoff talk about his #bulimia brought old unresolved feelings back ????. That was me 30 years ago. I’m fatter but happy, healthy & recovered. I pray he finds a way to being happy in his skin too. What a powerful documentary @BBCOne
— Erikka Askeland (@Erikkaburgh) September 28, 2020
Freddie Flintoff: Living with Bulimia is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.
If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV guide.