Social workers have questioned the depiction of their profession in the first episode of new Channel 4 drama Kiri.
The fictional series written by National Treasure screenwriter Jack Thorne centres on the abduction of a nine-year-old black girl named Kiri, who is about to be adopted by her white foster family.
Sarah Lancashire stars as an experienced – yet maverick – social worker named Miriam, who makes the ultimately tragic decision to allow Kiri an unsupervised visit to her birth grandparents, during which she goes missing.
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Miriam is a chaotic, heavy-drinking social worker who takes her dog to work. But she is also a very caring and bright woman who made an informed decision in an attempt to fulfil Kiri’s cultural needs.
Writer Thorne said before the series aired that it was not his intention to depict social workers negatively. In fact, he told RadioTimes.com after a press screening that his mother was a carer for adults with learning difficulties when he was young.
“I grew up going to the day centre all the time and hanging out with her,” he explained. “When she was doing residential care we’d spend Christmas in a home, so I’ve always wanted to write about the caring professions.”
He went on to say that his mother has four children and her brother is a paranoid schizophrenic, so she has “literally spent her whole life caring for others”.
“I was trying to tell a story about someone who was real, who had flaws, but for whom caring was such an instinctive thing,” he said.
However, a review of the first episode of Kiri on the One Stop Social care professionals website challenged the show’s “significant inaccuracies”, which, the reviewer claims, “will only serve to further harm or distort our already embattled profession.”
Many social workers on Twitter also called out the drama for damaging the public’s perception of their work.
So far not impressed! A social worker who takes her dog to work, calls a child on her caseload stupid then is blamed by her manager! I do love Sarah Lancashire and I'm aware it's a drama, it's just that my profession always gets bad press and shit like this doesn't t help! #kiri
— Lynne Greig (@LynneMcg) January 10, 2018
So disappointed in @Channel4 #Kiri which depicts a social worker as an eccentric rebellious alcoholic whose poor judgement led to the death of a child she was responsible for. This does not help our cause and only adds to the media’s denigration of us ????
— Sleepy Steve ⚜ (@nicell70) January 10, 2018
Pple tweeting that #Kiri is fictional & entertainment so don't believe it: When it's your profession that's constantly scapegoated & vilified by the press, always focuses on the negative & never on the day2day positives we help make, we get to voice our opinion on tv drama.
— ɖàռìɛʟ ʊì ռèɨʟʟ (@HomoSocialist) January 10, 2018
Can I just make it clear THAT SOCIAL WORKERS DO NOT CARRY HIP FLASKS AND DRINK ON THE JOB!! #KIRI
— ɖàռìɛʟ ʊì ռèɨʟʟ (@HomoSocialist) January 10, 2018
Not finding #kiri an accurate to social work Clearly according to this we all require alcoholic coffee in the morning,provide financially for people we used to work with and care more about keeping our dogs with us than supervising a pre-adoption visit. We’re not that incompetent
— Vicky MacWilliam (@Vixmac22) January 10, 2018
However, some people are of the opinion that it’s good drama and it’s not supposed to be realistic.
There are very few positive portrayals of social workers and so non-sw public take this as gospel.. need to remember it a drama. No one looks at Holby City as an accurate reflection of hospital life. https://t.co/Ap7dolnGQ7
— Hannah ???? (@HannahDaisy) January 10, 2018
To be honest but unrealistic but it is a drama and drama is drama! Absolutely love it and can’t wait for next episode! Sarah would make a great social worker! Lol????????
— Kieran Bafson (@KierenBafson) January 10, 2018
Am now getting into it more as a good drama/story and sympathising with characters; that is a sign of good tv I reckon; gradually obsessing less about realism (or not!)
— mandy johnson (@mandylou26) January 10, 2018
When watching #Kiri social workers just need to take a deep breath and remember that on Holby City, the student nurse runs the wards & they can bring people back from the dead after flat lining. Hence there will be no factually correct information in a Social Work drama.
— Cara (@rainybayblog) January 10, 2018
Lots of social workers complaining that this is an inaccurate representation of social work. I’m a GP who watched 2 seasons of Dr Foster! #Kiri
— Anthony slides down the Cursus Honorum (@manwil83) January 10, 2018
When contacted for comment, a Channel 4 spokesperson told RadioTimes.com: “Kiri is a complex and entirely fictional 4-part drama populated by fully-drawn, three-dimensional characters, each with their own human flaws and personal difficulties.
“The drama explores, among other topics, the vast pressures placed upon social workers and the very difficult job they do. Extensive background research was undertaken to ensure the themes explored within the drama were accurately and authentically portrayed and social workers, various departments within the police and charities were all consulted during the scriptwriting and development stages.”