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Elizabeth Is Missing—a drama without cliches about dementia and loss

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Issue 2683
Glenda Jackson as Maude
Glenda Jackson as Maude (Pic: BBC/STV Productions)

Elizabeth Is Missing, a new BBC drama, is brilliant.

Based on the novel of the same name, its main focus is Maud (Glenda Jackson), an ageing woman dealing with the onset of dementia.

Maud becomes convinced that her best friend, Elizabeth, is missing. She is desperate for people to help find Elizabeth, while Maud’s daughter’s main concern is trying to keep her increasingly erratic mother safe.

The BBC dramatisation shows the stress that family members go through in trying to relate to someone with dementia. Importantly it gives the perspective of the sufferer too.

While “investigating” what has happened to Elizabeth, Maud is drawn back to childhood memories of another painful disappearance—that of her sister Sukey.The constant moving between past and present helps to give a sense of the confusion and bewilderment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Maud is frustrated at how “no one listens” to her. But eventually she is listened to—and is vindicated after it turns out she had a point all along.

The programme isn’t patronising, cliched or sentimental.

Bits of it are very upsetting. But it is a well made drama that feels real and treats people who often aren’t taken seriously with dignity.

Sadie Robinson

Sunday 8 December, BBC1

Meryl McMaster—As ­Immense as the Sky

From a rising generation of indigenous artists in Canada, Meryl McMaster uses photography to explore identity and its distinct cultural landscapes.

McMaster is of the nêhiyawak community and a member of the Siksika First Nation on her father’s side, and Euro-Canadian on her mother’s.

Her work acknowledges the personal and social history and effects of colonisation. It also looks at the dangers of unsustainable land usage and the erasure of key species.

Ikon Gallery, Birmingham. 4 Dec 2019—23 Feb 2020


It’s 1984 and Paul Turner, a a young journalist, returns to his home, Silverton, a South Yorkshire mining village­­, and a community in the middle of the Great Miners’ Strike.

Tensions are running high. Childhood friends find themselves on opposite sides of the picket lines. The battle of Orgreave erupts.

Sheffield Library Theatre. 10-12 Dec. Tickets from £6


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