Secrets from the Asylum

Road to Ruin

Series 1 - Episode 2 Road to Ruin

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Review

Comedian Al Murray grapples with his anger when he hears of the fate of a distant relative, Laura, who spent 50 years in a lunatic asylum. The unfortunate woman, who died in the institution aged 74, was brutally described by her doctors as “an imbecile from an early age”.

Her father was a writer and intellectual who clearly found having an “idiot” daughter (today, she would be helped and understood for having learning difficulties), painfully embarrassing. So Laura was shut away somewhere that was largely little more than a storage facility for society’s rejects. Elsewhere Lesley Joseph and Christopher Biggins shed tears as they learn of ancestors who faced similarly sad ends.

Summary

Part two of two. Comedian Al Murray finds out how Victorian ideas of inherited insanity meant one of his ancestors was institutionalised from a young age. Birds of a Feather star Lesley Joseph goes on a deeply personal journey to uncover a painful family secret about an aunt whose very existence was kept secret for years, while entertainer Christopher Biggins discovers the truth behind his great-grandfather's time in an asylum. The Royle Family's Sue Johnston looks back on her job as a ward orderly in the 1960s while she was a drama student.

Cast & Crew

Contributor Al Murray
Contributor Lesley Joseph
Contributor Sue Johnston
Contributor Christopher Biggins
Director Caroline Miller
Executive Producer Jonathan Hewes
Series Producer Helen Williamson
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Documentary