Strength of human nature the star of documentary My Last Summer

My last summer
Andy, Jayne, Ben, Lou and Junior, the terminally-ill cast of My Last Summer on Channel 4.

TV Watch with Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

If you thought you had a bad day and then watched the first episode of My Last Summer on Channel 4 on Wednesday, you were no doubt counting your blessings by the end of viewing it.

The channel associated with culture and the arts and good solid documentaries have in recent years become more tabloid in their approach and this programme was a classic example of their voyeuristic approach.

And yet, how could you resist a programme that brings five terminally ill people together for what may be their last Summer.

It has the blood, sweat and tears and is sure to make great television, especially if one of them dies — and that is exactly why the programme is being made and why we are watching it.

Granted we don’t talk enough about death, and they talk even less about it in the UK, where the programme was made. But enough of the cynicism.

The first episode saw the five meeting for the first time in a manor house where they each have a room, but meet and eat together.

They each have a story to tell but one thing that is common for them all is that they have been gradually abandoned by their family and friends. Either those people can’t handle the thought of the terminal aspect, or they just couldn’t be bothered being around ‘moaners and groaners’ whose lives are now dominated by sickness.

But the five people, two strong women and three men, weren’t that tiresome at all and were energised by being able to talk openly to people in the same boat. They were even able to joke about their situation and around dinner one night, one of them suggested they take bets on who won’t be around this time next year.

Jayne is the posh one who left her husband of 25 years when he failed to show her the moral support she needed to help get her through her illness.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.