Documentary maker Louis Theroux is back on the BBC this Sunday following his three-part series about the dark underbelly of life in the United States of America. Now Theroux is in the UK attempting to shine a light on anorexia, that pathological fear of eating that affects around one in 250 women at some point in their lives, and the most deadly mental illness in the UK.
'Yeah, I’m not happy,' Janet tells him in response to the news she's put on weight. 'I feel that I have to starve myself. I don’t know why I’ve put on.'
How did this happen to her? 'I couldn’t control anything else… I didn’t want to grow up, I wanted to be a child I was terrified of going to work, terrified of leaving home. It all scared me so much. Anorexia was my own best friend because I didn’t have to do anything because I was sick all the time. It was my own little world that I could hide inside… You just do not want to grown up, you’re just too scared, you can’t cope. End of.'
With his careful, gently probing, soft voice and incredulous eyebrows, Theroux integrates himself into two of London’s biggest adult eating-disorder treatment facilities: St Ann’s Hospital and Vincent Square Clinic, to talk to women of all ages about the impossibly complex nature and devastating impact of the disease. As Theroux seeks to understand what lies beneath this mysterious illness, he pulls at the complicated love/hate relationship between the disorder and the person it inhabits.
Anorexia is so sensitive a subject that past attempts to explore the causes and effects of the illness have been greeted with disapproval from suffers and the medical community – the Netflix drama To The Bone for example, garnered plenty of criticism. But Theroux does what dramas like To The Bone fail to do; he illustrates the complex and idiosyncratic relationship different suffers have with the disease by offering women a space to talk about their experiences, in their own voice.
|What||Louis Theroux: Talking To Anorexia|
|Where||BBC Two , BBC Two , BBC Two , BBC Two | MAP|
29 Oct 17 – 31 Jan 18, Louis Theroux: Talking to Anorexia airs Sunday 9pm