Daisy Maskell: Insomnia and Me, BBC 1, BBC 3, BBC iPlayer, Director Emmanuel Ayettey.


I watched this last night. The programme started at 10.35pm, and I was almost falling asleep. A poor joke, which also happens to be true. My partner has problems sleeping. The woman across from us said she doesn’t sleep much. My sister goes to bed in the afternoon, and her son isn’t much better. As Henry Marsh writes in Do No Harm, exercise is supposed to help prevent early onset Alzheimer’s. It doesn’t you’re just able to run away better. Margaret Thatcher famously never slept much, and she got Alzheimer’s. There may be a link in the same way there may be a god. It’s complex.

‘According to research by the NHS, hospital admissions due to sleep disorders among young people have almost doubled over the past eight years, and the recent Covid-19 crisis has exacerbated the issue further still. In research conducted by Kings College London on a cross-section of 2,500 people across the UK, almost half of 16- to 24-year-olds stated that they were sleeping significantly fewer hours than they had been prior to lockdown, in comparison to just a third of those aged 35 and over.’

I’d never heard of Daisy Maskell. She tells us she’s had insomnia since she was a child. Her job as a radio host at 6.30 am seems to me a good fit. But she said she worries about her mental health and the possible longer-term effect on her immune system.

She meets her best friend, and other young and pretty people, to discuss some of these issues. How, for example, Covid lockdowns may have made things worse. Normalised insomnia.  She tries cognitive therapy, psychotherapy and has her brain scanned. She admits to rewarding herself with food treats and purging with laxatives (bulimia) when she’s up late and the world is asleep. Yawn.  

Don’t Take My Baby BBC 3 9pm. Directed by Ben Anthony

don't take my baby


This drama comes with lots of baggage. Around 3000 children are removed from disabled people every year. Writer Jack Thorne has distilled their voice and created composite characters that let them speak. Tom (played by Adam Long) is partially sighted. He is full- time carer and lover of Anna (Ruth Madley). She has a muscle wasting disease and every two years is told by specialist that she is going to die. She’s stopped listening. Wheel-chair bound, nothing works below the waist. Tom is lying in bed with her and jokes about anal sex. Anna gets pregnant. It’s the best or worse thing that has ever happened. The baby could kill Anna.

Cue dilemma. Are the loving couple with multiple disabilities able to care for their daughter Danielle, who may have inherited one or more of their genetic conditions? Belinda (Wunmi Mosaku) is the social worker, the link between home and hospital and her client is Danielle, not Tom or Adam. As part of a team, she has to decide whether Danielle should be taken from Tom and Anna. It’s a dilemma faced by very few mothers and fathers. There’s an old joke a speaker at the Gallowgate used to wave a piece of paper about and say ‘this bit of paper says that I’m sane, and allowed back into civilised society.’ He’d ask his audience if they could say the same.

Tom and Belinda also need that metaphorical bit of paper saying they are fit mothers and fathers. Toms slips during a hospital stay whilst they are being assessed. He’s caught holding the baby and almost drops Danielle. It’s touch and go.

Danielle never sleeps. Tom exhausted doesn’t answer the door when Belinda tries to gain entry during a daytime home visit. Not once, twice.

The babies crying. Belinda tells Tom she needs a bath. She snipes he’s her carer and he’s getting paid for his work. It’s breaking point. Belinda falls from the couch onto the floor. Tom leaves her lying on the carpet goes to the hospital and meets Belinda coming out of one of the hospital exits.   (Ignore the fact he’s blind. Ignore the fact there are thousands of other doors and entryways Belinda could be leaving through. Ignore the fact just as she’s leaving she bumps into a blind man). Tom admits he’s not coping.

Denouement. Can they keep the baby? One social worker votes no. She tells how hard it was to admit that a disabled couple she knew weren’t coping and they had to take the baby from them. Better to do it now.

Well, as the old Beatles’ classic goes. All you need is love, love, love. Love is all you need – Danielle.

Worth the watching. Wonder why such a quality drama is squirreled away on BBC 3?