Louis Theroux, a review: It was fascinating... - Headway

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Louis Theroux, a review


It was fascinating, humbling and interesting in equal measure. The cases featured were eye opening (to those with no experience) and thought provoking. Much like the story about the snowboarder shown last year, they were case studies that brought brain injuries to the attention a far larger audience. Louis handled each case sensitively and delved just deeply enough to touch upon the every day situations faced by those who have been seriously affected.


I was disappointed, very disappointed. The 'documentary' in it's own way managed to hit upon the true nature of a huge proportion of head injuries without even realising it. It focused (possibly rightly) on desperately sad cases, the evidence was clear to see in all of them. And there lies the problem, in microcosm. People like myself go through the backlash of a brain injury every day and nobody on the outside would ever know. I don't appear to be 'vulnerable' I don't appear to be 'an entirely different person' and there are no visible scars. My brain injury is hidden, Louis would never have known, unless we'd talked, he'd probed and I'd wanted to discuss it. There was no talk of fatigue, no mention of a combination of medication, no discussion regarding the permanent headache, avoided was the chat that I forgot two minutes later. I could go on Etc, etc...

My conditions are hidden, and they were hidden in the programme too. Maybe I'm being hyper critical, I don't know, but I certainly wasn't represented in the programme, not even close

34 Replies

Agreed it went for the dramatic ignoring the vast number of well walking wounded who "look fine" I did find it interesting but I had sepected it might do this, in many ways " me and my new brain" although suger coated was far more simular to the head injuries that I and folks I've met experience.


I agree with you entirely where 'Me and my new brain' is concerned.

Well, it just made me think "Gosh, I am *so* lucky, that my accident left me as 'normal' as I am!" OK, I might not be able to drive (as I am 'blind'), and I occasionally bump into things, but hey, I went back to my job, as a university lecturer (after 18 months off sick).

When I was in hospital (or rather, the rehab unit - my memory only started working a few months into the rehabilitation unit), I had a memory so bad that I couldn't remember what had happened yesterday (or even that morning). My memory now is not what it *should* be (I mean, I am still missing 18 months, including moving house, and having a second baby; and I still forget enough things to drive my darling husband up the wall), but it is so much better than it could be. I consider myself very lucky, even if my problems (eyesight, co-ordination, memory, ...) often really get to me.

I felt it should have said more about the way BI happens, and the wide range, as you say.

BaronC in reply to Flumptious


You're not wrong!

My thought exactly, great program but didn't touch on us who seem "normal" on the outside but who still have day to day "issues" and struggles relating to the brain injury. Us who get the daily "but you look ok"!!

However I love Louis and have watch all his documentaries. Very pleased it's been covered by BBC.

Forgot to say, a few people I know have niw contacted me to say they now realised what a struggle my recovery and "new life" must have been/is. Which helps me somewhat :)

Hi Andy, I've been looking to see who would post first on the documentary. I wanted to post, but couldn't and wouldn't say it as well as you have, so thank you. I do want to comment though!

Me and hubby watched.....and yes some very interesting facts.......BUT as you said Andy the documentary focuses on desperately sad cases

My opinion on programmes like this now (having a brain injury) is that one brain injury doesn't fit all. And the "normal" out there will continue not to understand our hidden injures

Before my B.I. I would have watched this programme and then seen someone like myself and thought/said/ sympathetically ....you look ok, and yes you wobble a bit and have difficulties etc etc........ but your not as bad as those on the programme. That's sad of me but true.

I truly "GET IT" much more now about what and why those people who haven't had a brain injury don't understand ( I was once one of them) Having been to hell and back and survived "in the new me" I am lucky

I am older and wiser with a brain injury and feel it's my duty to tell others if there's a need to about my problems and how to manage/cope with them. It's a hidden disability and it's their choice how to handle things once they know the facts Then it's not hidden anymore 😃

Too right Mrs. Xx

Yes Andy, I agree totally. The programme only touched the surface. In my case I don't have the same problems bot I do have very real problems that are dealt with daily and cause huge problems. I know it could be worse but like you I am not vulnerable and I could identify with a lot of issues the married lady had, but.....

One programme is insufficient to deal with the complexities of brain damage, it was a good start it needs a much more in depth coverage.

Janet xxxx

Yep, I think we're all agreed that the programme was aimed solely at those with obvious disabilities and ignored the massive number of 'invisible' casualties.

This subject is so vast that it really warranted a series of programmes to show the whole range of after effects from brain injury rather than just, let's face it, the most 'entertaining' for a viewing audience.

But of course Louis Theroux was brilliant, as always. :-/ x

BaronC in reply to cat3

Do you know, I'm quite relieved. I genuinely wondered whether or not I should start this thread as I felt a bit, well, selfish. I didn't want to offend anyone by belittling the programme, but the responses thus far have cheered me...

cat3 in reply to BaronC

Seems your gut feelings are a pretty good indicator of popular opinion ; well done sir !!

BaronC in reply to cat3

I just felt I had to get it off my chest really. I'm just pleased so many of you were on my chest at the same time :)

cat3 in reply to BaronC

I think there should be a platform for all levels & types of brain injury. So cramming the subject into one hour was unrealistic and very limiting.

Apparently Louis has been criticised in the press for asking questions which were inappropriate & too intrusive. I don't agree.

For others to understand BI issues & how they affect everyday living those questions need to be asked, and I think Louis Theroux shows great sensitivity and respectfulness in his approach. x

From a carer's perspective...I agree with others who have said the programme focused on those with more obvious or visible effects of brain injury with no mention of people whose injury is pretty well hidden unless you know what to look for. I think for a one hour programme like the one last night and others such as Me and My New Brain, the documentary producers can cover only so much ground. I picked up on quite a number of major issues that had to be glossed over due to the time constraints:

*change in relationship from husband and wife to caregiver/patient (and no mention of the high percentage of relationship breakdown following a BI)

*how children cope with a parent's BI

*the flat, emotionless reaction towards loved ones

*the inability to remember, acknowledge and accept how one had caused their own BI

*anger and aggression

*disinhibition and inappropriate behaviour

*the mother's feelings of shame over what she saw as her part in her son's injury (boy, I related to this one big time)

Yeah, no mention of fatigue, eh? I guess that one's hard to portray on screen.

I'd like to see a documentary that's devised and made by a group of BI survivors who are given free reign to produce a show or series of shows. Any takers??

Molly15 in reply to Lazuli

I so agree with you on this from the carer's perspective. I watched with my husband, and found it to be a good overall representation, but my husband watched with increasing agitation. He said he could relate to all of the Bi sufferers on the programme, but it seemed to only make him more frustrated and angry. There followed a day yesterday of arguments, with the usual "you don't understand" comments every few minutes. I have been with him every step of the way for nearly 4 years, but still he insists I don't understand, and more to the point don't care.

Our relationship has all but died as a husband and wife, but we plod on. He keeps hoping I will suddenly change back to how I used to be, and I know he can't, so things will never be the same again.

No one who has not been in these situations will ever understand. Life is entirely changed, never to return to the happy, carefree days, but we have to make something out of it all, or give up for ever. That's the difficult bit. x

BaronC in reply to Lazuli


Yeah, I'd do it, trouble is, nobody wants to know. Trust me, I've been trying to get my writing 'out there' for years. It's like farting in the wind. A total waste of time

Oh I'm not going to watch it now as it sounds like I will def get very upset and feel belittled, I'm not setting myself up for a fall....I know how bad I can feel now and the pain I get and the muggy head, the emotional turmoil it brings, so I'm not watching it! I'm already without some family (close family after the day I cried and felt emotional and was told I'm fine and need to do more as my tumour can go cancerous!!! etc etc....all because I don't enjoy large groups or out boozing...which I didn't really do before anyway ) so it's a no from me, I really push myself and think I'm very positive considering I still have no idea if after surgery and radiotherapy I will survive this damn thing, so I don't need to be watching that! I was quite excited to watch it, hoping it would portray the real invisible illness etc etc...how disappointing! Thanks tho for saving me from upset! Really wish they would broadcast one that proves we are not liars....ok we may look the same but REALLY!!!??? xx

PaulB2 in reply to peaches2

Watching is better than second guessing:)

Miss_Dizzy in reply to peaches2

My reaction was similar to flumptious. Whilst totally unrepresented to a problematic degree in my opinion. I do now feel HUGELY lucky at having got away with largely invisible deficits. As difficult and tiring as it can be at least I am independent. However, they were extreme cases, I didn't identify and actually fell asleep only 15 minutes or so in, after 9 pm doesn't often happen for me. Thank god for the iplayer!

The problem with these sorts of documentaries not even giving the nod to the scope of brain injuries is that they are the only education most ever get and are so vital in setting public opinion. It's the same issue I have with Darwin Ward. Holby gets cardiac care So wrong it's damaging.

me and my new brain was better at the invisible but both have utterly ignored the devastating effects of breadwinners suffering injury. I guess that ones in the 'too hard' box and politicises the program too much.

BaronC in reply to peaches2


Probably wise, I'm sorry to report :(

Phweeeww. So sad for the people featured. My only tiny contribution, and it is tiny, is my BI (fell off bicycle drunk) was apparently life threatening, I was not normal for a year or two, but am now fully recovered. There is hope, things change slowly, one gravitates towards the person one was.

Hmmm - yes would agree that I was SO disappointed with this documentary.

Whilst he dealt very well with the people he studied and showed on the programme I now feel very stupid having mentioned it several time to friends as being a good insight as to what some of us have to deal with on a day to day basis - that hidden disability / changes/ personality traits that can often happen with BI. I felt that all of those shown would be easily identifiable as having some problems health wise and therefore seen as needing more support/care. Most were in living in care settings/ with f/t care at home and none were working..... I had hoped to follow people's progress with friends and family and their struggles to keep the lid on simmering feelings/hopes/trials and tribulations - the more subtle but nonetheless devastating aspects of BI.

I'm going to ask my ( almost) son in law to write to him to ask to explain why he didn't do that and to consider making another follow on film to show more. ( He has corresponded with LT a few times).


BaronC in reply to moo196

I thought of doing that myself, any hints on how to contact Mr Theroux?

moo196 in reply to BaronC

I'll try to find out for you before I go away...

moo196 in reply to moo196

He has a facebook page for starters ?

BaronC in reply to moo196


I hope no one minds me adding my personal opinion to this. I feel long term injuries of brain injury aren't taken seriously for the 'walking / talking wounded' because the outside world doesn't realise or understand our issues & why should they? Whilst they do great work for Headway & for highlighting brain injury short term, the high profile people such as Richard Hammond & James Cracknell (I feel) do us a great injustice. Both have written books on the subject & then somehow gone back to super glamorous lifestyles. When the outside world sees they have bounced back & seem to be back to making good money again, then why should they understand or accept our daily struggles are real? When the only high profile people (with BI) are travelling abroad to undertake dangerous persuits, then why should the DWP believe we can't work, can't live alone or can't cope without help? Why should our problems be taken seriously or people recognise we are vulnerable? I have read both books & am sorry for the pain they experienced, however, they make me feel i am failing at my brain injury as I am far from Superwoman. A good day for me is remembering to eat lunch & having a bath without flooding the house. Simple tasks to most. I don't wish to seem critical of the great work both have done for Headway, I just feel their portrayal of 'normal' years down the line, does us a disservice.

BaronC in reply to CuriousConnie

Wonderful words and you are absolutely bang on the money.

I loathe Top Gear and all it stands for, but I did read Mr Hammond's book. It was moving, and very, very close in parts to what I went through/am going through. But...

The DVLA man laughed so hard that a bit of wee came out when I asked if I'd ever see my driving license again. Even if I had said license I doubt very much I'd have the coordination skills to drive ever again. To be honest, it's enough of an effort getting in a car without whacking my head, again on the door frame. Yes, it has happened.

Mr Cracknell.... Could I row a boat? No, but I could have a little sleep in it while the rest of the crew did their best.

I agree entirely. It focussed on extreme cases that would make 'good tv' and therefore missed alot out. Not a realistic representation at all.

BaronC in reply to bonfire


Totally agree with all said already.

Went to local A&E on sunday, my cold is now on my chest. Answered many questions said I had a bi, the nurse and doctor both said " well you've made a full recovery aren't you lucky". Needless to say my husband gave me the look (this is to say please dont open mouth). Well I did and I pionted out that I look really good but I am in no way FULLY recovered nor would I ever be. So if some medical person's think that what do other people think .... when I got home I cried n hide away from everyone


BaronC in reply to jacxx


I know that feeling all too well. Even close friends (at the time) said as much, if not verbally, then certainly by their actions. It just adds too the frustration really

I stopped watching about half way through.

However there was a good comment, it was from the partner of the lady whom had her BI from falling of the horse - he said "she is very bright and intelligent as she was before her accident but can't apply it"

That is so true of many of us - our abilities are there but the ability to use them isn't

Completely agree with your comments as my husband, like yourself, appears 'normal' to those that don't know about/ understand brain injury.

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