Partly inspired by Amy Winehouse’s death and described as “a sympathetic look at alcoholism and addiction”, Russell Brand: From Addiction to Recovery got its first airing on BBC1 last night.
I was quite keen to watch this program. Firstly, I didn’t see its original broadcast on BBC3 and, secondly, although I know a little bit about Russell’s former addiction from watching his appearance on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, I was pretty much clueless about his past. In fact, I wouldn’t even particularly call myself a fan of Russell’s, but I don’t mind him. I was endeared to him on his aforementioned appearance on Life Stories and still have both of his Booky Wooks on my shelf to read. Perhaps if I’d read them already, I would have been more clued up on the comedian’s addiction and maybe would have known what to expect.
I have to say, From Addiction to Recovery didn’t exactly live up to my expectations – probably because I was quite deceived by the title. I predicted that it would have been about Russell’s own, personal story about leaving his life of drugs behind, as opposed to what it turned out to be: the host visiting lots of current and former drug addicts, doctors and experts and the rehabilitation centre where he got the help he needed.
I’m not saying that what the show transpired to be wasn’t interesting, nor informative, but I think that the opportunity to hear directly from Russell about his journey alone would have been better. It would have been the only chance we’ve had to hear from him on-camera (i.e. not in print), and without the story coming as a result of probing questioning (i.e. not on Life Stories).
‘VILE AND SICKENING’
Nevertheless, I did enjoy watching the documentary – there were many excellent aspects to it, one of which being Russell’s articulate, well thought-through and, most importantly, intriguing arguments. He didn’t back down, no matter what he was debating, and delivered his valid opinions – as he spoke as an ex-addict – with conviction, which meant that he invariably triumphed in getting his point across, leaving his opponents stumped.
Another good thing – perhaps the best – about From Addiction to Recovery was the fact that it didn’t beat around the bush: it got straight to the point, was hard-hitting (just like Russell’s arguments) and therefore made for better, more memorable viewing. For example, I couldn’t look at the pictures of heroin addicts injecting themselves – they were vile and sickening. However, the important thing is that they made an impact on me. The main people who watch BBC3, are fans of Russell Brand and – let’s face it – are curious about drugs are teenagers and those in their early twenties. I’m sixteen, watched this program and was disgusted. Thus, by including these shocking and revolting images, the documentary will probably be helping to deter people from drugs. I didn’t want to even touch drugs before I watched this, but having seen the reality of the effects of them on camera, I definitely don’t want to go near them! If it’s affected me, it must have affected other people – particularly those around my age – and I applaud everyone involved for that. A potentially controversial, but ultimately beneficial decision!
To reiterate, as someone who isn’t a ‘die hard’ Brand fan, and someone who has never been tempted by, nor associated with, drugs, I have to say that I didn’t find the documentary as gripping as I thought I would when I sat down to watch it. I do, however, think it has importance and it should be considered for use in schools, perhaps during lessons such as PSHRE or Religious Education. Perhaps not wholly entertaining, but undoubtedly vital.