Portfolio – interview with David Baddiel for Agespace.org
Interviewing is a key skill I deploy in my work both in journalism and content marketing. Below is an extract from an interview with David Baddiel for the website www.agespace.org
David Baddiel has had a lot to say recently about dementia both on stage and TV. But he is keen to stress he is a comedian and not a campaigner – albeit one who is happy to give voice to the issues that families living with the disease face.
My Family: Not the Sitcom – interview with David Baddiel
At the heart of his stage show My Family: Not the Sitcom, are searingly honest stories about his late mother Sarah, and his dad Colin and the dementia which has enveloped him. Those experiences – his mother’s openness about her affair with a member of the local golfing society, Colin’s indifference to this, and his subsequent decline from Pick’s Disease – are both unique to David, and yet also universal – a brutally funny and honest look at real family life that we can all relate to.
The show and the media attention around it has done something else too; it’s helped change the discussion around how we see, and act towards, our relatives as they age and struggle with illnesses such as dementia.
For him, the comedy lies in stripping back the sentimentality and sugarcoating that all too often happens within families when a loved one has died, or we lose them through dementia, and to acknowledge the reality and say ‘hang on it wasn’t really like that’. In fact, he argues that if all you can say of your loved ones is that they were wonderful without calling up their “weaknesses, madnesses, and flaws”, then you may as well not remember them at all.
“People respond to it amazingly,” he says. “Nobody else had a mum like mine who had an affair with a member of the golfing society; nobody else has had a dad like mine, but everyone has had something in their childhood.
“I am dealing with the same problems anybody with a relative is dealing with. It’s about how to care for them, and how to respond to them. They are still there, although it sometimes feels that that they are not. It feels pretty liberating as far as I can make out in terms of what people talk about afterwards. I invite people to ask questions and people will start to tell me things about their family, which they wouldn’t have told anyone else in a public way. I have given them licence to do that.
“What I want to try to do a little better as far as dementia is concerned is change the conversation about it. Most people think when you say ‘my parent has got dementia’ that that is the end of the story. That’s not what happens because their personality expands. It can be difficult, but it doesn’t mean he isn’t there anymore.”
He clearly feels strongly about the state of the country’s social care system
“I think it’s clear that social care is in a mess,” he says. “The NHS hasn’t got enough money to deal with it. That was clear from my own experience when my mum died. She was admitted to hospital in an emergency situation and died in a way that possibly could have been prevented. “But it isn’t just about money, it’s also about psychology – attitudes need to shift. “That is happening, partly because there are more older people who have money and are still visible and aren’t just fading away.”
In addition to this interview with David Baddiel here are more links to articles I’ve written for Agespace.org
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