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Help on Channel 4: Release date, cast, plot and latest news for Stephen Graham and Jodie Comer drama

Jack Thorne's script is about the relationship between a young care home worker and a patient.

Help
Channel 4
Published: Thursday, 16th September 2021 at 12:15 pm

Stephen Graham and Jodie Comer take to screens this evening for hard-hitting and gruelling pandemic drama, Help.

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The Jack Thorne one-off show explores the relationship between a care home worker Sarah (Comer) and Tony (Graham), who's a patient with Young Onset Alzheimer's.

Help is set during the coronavirus pandemic, and looks at the devastating impact COVID had on care homes, their patients and their staff. With the virus sweeping through and hitting the most vulnerable, Sarah and her colleagues must fight to save their patients.

RadioTimes.com previously shared a first-look Help trailer, showing a snippet of the drama set to air tonight on Channel 4 – and if you need any more convincing, check out our four-star Help review.

  • You can hear Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham talking to RT's Jane Garvey on the Radio Times Podcast

Read on for all you need to know about Help on Channel 4.

Help release date

Confirmed: Help will air on Channel 4 on Thursday 16th September at 9pm.

Help is a one-off, with a run-time of two hours.

Help plot

The series is based in a Liverpool care home and follows the relationship between a young worker, Sarah, and a patient, Tony, specifically detailing the effect that the coronavirus pandemic has had on them.

The official synopsis reads: "Sarah is smart, but she’s never fitted in, not in education and not in work. Her family told her she’d never amount to anything but she unexpectedly finds her calling as a carer at Sunshine Homes. Sarah has a special talent for connecting with the residents, including one in particular, 47-year-old Tony. Tony’s Young Onset Alzheimer’s has left him living out his days in care as his mind slowly deteriorates.

"His illness causes periods of confusion and violent outbursts, which the other members of staff can’t handle, but with Sarah he begins to build a real bond. Sarah’s success at managing Tony and the other patients helps build her confidence and restore her self-belief.

"Then March 2020 hits and everything Sarah has achieved is thrown into doubt with the arrival of the Coronavirus pandemic. She and her colleagues tirelessly fight tooth and nail, ill-equipped, poorly prepared, and seemingly left helpless by the powers that be.

"A determined Sarah goes to extraordinary lengths to protect those in her care, whose conditions make their suffering and isolation all the more traumatic. But the staff’s unwavering commitment, compassion and heroic efforts can only do so much, and Sarah is pushed into a dark corner and desperately looks for a way out."

Writer Jack Thorne has explained how he had been hoping to write something for Comer and Graham for a while but had been struggling for inspiration with the project until recently.

Jack Thorne
Jack Thorne

“About two years ago Stephen Graham came to me with an idea to write something for him and Jodie Comer," he said. "I tried to think of something and got nothing.

"Then this crisis happened, and we saw care homes getting squashed and battered by the government. It's been both a long process and a short one, trying to find a way to tell this story, the amazing thing has been sharing in working out the story with Stephen, Jodie, the amazing Marc Munden, Beth Willis and everyone at the Forge and Channel 4.

"30,000 people have died unnecessarily in these care homes because of the indifference and incompetence of our government. Hearing the stories of those at the frontline, having people break down in tears on zoom in front of us has been incredibly moving and galling.

"Getting the story right will be incredibly important, we are aware of the pressure upon us, this has to be written and made with anger and precision. We hope we do it justice."

Comer has also explained how the project came to be, telling press in a Q&A ahead of the June 2021 BAFTA TV Awards: "I very embarrassingly slid into Jack Thorne's DMs, when I was on Twitter, and I told him that I wanted to work with him - like, just straight up. He's great, isn't he? He's incredible. So I did that.

"And then simultaneously, without me even knowing – it must have been around that time – Stephen had got in touch with Jack and was like, 'Jack will you write something for me and Jodie?'

"And then it just became this thing, and we got together, and we did a couple of workshops about what this piece could be, and then we found a director in Mark Munden, and we filmed it earlier this year in Liverpool."

Help cast

Help on Channel 4
Channel 4

The two leading roles in the Help cast are played by Killing Eve star Jodie Comer and prolific film and TV actor Stephen Graham, who has previously worked with Thorne on This is England and The Virtues.

On the announcement of the series, Comer said, "I am, of course, thrilled to finally be working alongside Stephen and the supremely talented Jack, Marc and those at Channel 4.

"For us to be able to explore such a relevant and emotive story through the eyes of such beautifully real characters, and in our home city of Liverpool, is a real honour.

"We’re determined to do justice to so many of the untold stories and heroes that have been affected as a result of this crisis and to handle them with care.”

And Graham added: "Jack is one of the greatest and most truthful writers of our generation and in Help he has crafted a profoundly important piece of social realism. I’ve wanted to work with Jodie for ages, and together we’re hugely passionate about shining a light on one of the biggest tragedies of our time and the people at the heart of it.”

Help trailer

Yes, you can watch the trailer for Help here.

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Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV Guide.

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