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Alastair Campbell: Depression and Me

  • 2019
  • Documentary and factual
  • Lifestyle

Summary

The journalist and former Downing Street press secretary - best known as Tony Blair's `spin doctor" during his tenure as prime minister - talks about his lifelong battle with depression. Encouraged by his family, Alastair sets out on a journey to explore if cutting-edge science can offer him, and the millions of people like him, the hope of one day living free of the illness. As he tries to better understand his depression, he also reflects on key events in his life and asks if they could have had a negative effect on his mind

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Review

At one point in this moving film about his own mental health, Alastair Campbell recalls how, as a heavy-drinking student at Cambridge, he developed the macho habit of headbutting doors to open them. That may not surprise those who recall his approach to politics, but the surprise of the programme is that under the bullish image that Campbell projects is a subtler and more vulnerable character.

Through video diaries we see him here in spells of good mental health and spells of misery when, as he puts it, “the blackness pulls my strings”. He has taken anti-depressant drugs for 30 years, off and on, but here explores possible alternatives, from magnetic brain stimulation to hallucinogenic drugs.

None of the experimental treatments convinces Campbell, but the combination of bluff scepticism and emotional intelligence makes him an excellent guide through a tough subject, even if in the end it is something as simple as a jam jar that brings a breakthrough.

How to watch

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Credits

Crew

rolename
UnknownAlastair Campbell
EditorJustin Badger
Executive producerMark Lucas
Executive producerDavid Dugan
Executive producerMac MacKenzie
ProducerPeter Gauvain
DirectorPeter Gauvain

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