Do Writers Have a Duty to Accuracy?

Do Writers Have a Duty to Accuracy?

When writing about mental health problems, I often emphasise accurate and sensitive portrayals of mental illness. But how important is accuracy in writing? Should the story come first? Last week, controversy surrounded the season finale of BBC One's drama The Syndicate. Amy, a character with Type 1 Diabetes, complained of having low blood sugar and was later administered insulin. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) criticised the episode, as giving insulin to a person with low blood sugar is dangerous. Karen Addington, Chief Executive in the UK of JDRF, said: "Television writers and producers have a responsibility to portray life with a condition such as type 1 diabetes accurately." However, Kay Mellor, writer of The Syndicate hit back. In her statement she made a number of points in her own defence. I would like to examine some of those points. Not A Medical Drama? "The Syndicate is in no way a medical drama or a serious documentary about how to treat diabetes." While I may have watched...
Read More
On Strange and Norrell and Madness

On Strange and Norrell and Madness

The BBC has once more proved the worth of the licence fee with the stunning adaptation of Susanna Clarke's novel Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Now we're all had time to digest the series, I wanted to think on the depictions of "madness" in the adaptation and what writers can learn about depicting mental illness, particularly in the fantasy genre. SPOILERS FOR THE SERIES AND THE NOVEL - YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED The relationship between magic and madness "Magic cannot cure madness." - Gilbert Norrell From the beginning, Strange and Norrell was explicit in its discussion of madness and magic, with an alternate early nineteenth century viewpoint. When Sir Walter Pole asks Mr Norrell to cure his wife of madness, Norrell is firm on the point. However, given what we know of Norrell's role in Lady Pole's resurrection and his subsequent distancing from fairy magic, Norrell may well be lying. However, his efforts with Strange on curing the King's madness seem to uphold this assertion. Jonathan...
Read More