Mind Over Marathon: compelling television

Nick Knowles, Prince William and a great cause

Perfectly timed to coincide with the London marathon at the weekend, the BBC aired the first part of its documentary Mind Over Marathon last night. This was not the usual sports department fest however, but a compelling, moving and informative show presented by Nick Knowles with guest appearances by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Knowles, who has become a regular feature of the BBC’s Saturday evening gameshows, has however been gathering a reputation as a compassionate, warm and thoughtful frontman from his role on DIY SOS. The makeover show, which enlists volunteers from the building industry to enhance the lives of the disabled and challenged, by renovating their homes, has been a great success and Nick’s sensitive interviews are no small part of that.

Sensitivity was definitely something that was required last night as the programme followed 10 individuals who were battling with a variety of mental illnesses, from PTSD to depression, in their ambition to compete in the London Marathon.

Highlighting the trauma of living with mental health issues the reporting was both informative and harrowing. Whether it was witnessing a disabling panic attack, battling the black dog of depression or sharing a mother’s story of her baby dying followed by her husband’s suicide four days later, Knowles and the team were at pains to remind the audience that mental and emotional unease were happening to 1 in 4 of the population at any one time.

In fact, this was the essential aim of the show to bring mental health issues out of the shadows, which is why the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were more than happy to get involved and offer their presence and support.

Headlines have abounded in the press in the last week about Prince Harry battling with the loss of his Mother twenty years ago and last night William confirmed that he too was distressed whenever he saw someone enduring mental turmoil.

Both Princes are patrons of the Heads Together charity, which aims to bring mental health issues out of the shadows of shame where  21st century Britain still unacceptably seems to hide them.

Knowles, Prince William and the 10 participants certainly achieved their aims. Viewers were empathising, weeping and urging all the runners to succeed in their challenge to complete the marathon on Sunday and will definitely be keen to tune into part two next week to watch the outcome.

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