Stephen Graham reveals terrifying personal connection to Covid care home crisis while filming new drama Help

ACTOR Stephen Graham opened up on the moment he came into contact with Covid but it turned up to be a 'blessing in disguise'.

Graham, 48, stars alongside rising star Jodie Comer in Channel 4's new gripping drama called Help.

The drama takes place in a fictional care home in Liverpool as the coronavirus pandemic begins to affect both its staff and patients.

The story focuses on Sarah (Comer), a young care worker who forms a bond with a 47-year-old patient Tony (Graham) who has early onset Alzheimers.

Help provides an insight into the struggles faced by care workers across the country who received minimal amounts of PPE and even less support in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But just after a day of the cast coming together for rehearsals, Graham was forced into isolation after his wife and child tested positive for Covid.

He's married to actress and producer, Hannah Walters, and they have two children together – a son named Alfie and a daughter called Grace. 

The veteran actor claimed it was actually a blessing in disguise because it gave him time to connect with care workers, dementia patients and their families.

“I had to isolate for 10 days because my family had COVID, so it was kind of a weird blessing in disguise," he told The Sun.

Graham went on to explain that he along with writer Jack Thorne and director, Marc Munden, they decided to play the "man and not the disease."

He used that as "building block" for the character and then Thorne introduced him to a "wonderful woman called Nikki" who runs the charity, Rare Dementia Support.

“I became a member of their little group for the 10 days I was locked away, I had coffee mornings with them and I got to meet the most beautiful people," Graham explained.

Graham used anecdotes and things he'd learned from the "real human beings" he'd interacted with to help develop his character of Tony.

"In that way for me, it was the most completely unique experience I've ever had of getting the semblance of character," he added.

Graham also described Tony as "a beautiful character to play" and that his time in isolation "flew by, because I spent a lot of time talking to people who suffered from early onset dementia and getting a wide and varied opinion for what it was like for them."

I really began to get an understanding of what their frustrations were and what it was like for them to suffer from this disease," Graham explained.

"Tony is just a normal, lovely fella who happens to suffer from this disease. He’s considered not able to take care of himself, so he’s taken from his mum’s old house, and put into the care system."

Help is written by BAFTA award-winning writer Jack Thorne who has teamed up with director Marc Munden.

Whilst the story is fictional, Help is based on the real events of 2020, with writer Jack telling Channel 4: “30,000 people have died unnecessarily in these care homes because of the indifference and incompetence of our government.

“Hearing the stories of those at the frontline, having people break down in tears on zoom in front of us has been incredibly moving and galling.

"Getting the story right will be incredibly important, we are aware of the pressure upon us, this has to be written and made with anger and precision. We hope we do it justice.”

Help airs on Thursday September 16 at 9pm on Channel 4. If you miss it will be available to stream on All 4 after it has aired.



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