A BBC Documentary on Problem Drinking

Periodically we examine, as part of a general study of beer and alcohol history, textual and film treatments on temperance/Prohibition, alcohol control, and alcohol abuse.

This essay is one of many, dealing with the fate of pre-Prohibition saloon premises in the new dry era. Here is another, looking at alcohol in the university and a recent scholarly study.

Examining 1970s French film studies on alcohol abuse, we noted recently on YouTube’s sidebar a 2018 British Broadcasting Corporation documentary, written by and featuring Adrian Chiles. Birmingham-born Chiles is a well-known public figure in Britain through his broadcasting and other media work.

It runs a full hour and can be viewed here. The film looks at his own relationship to alcohol, but in a way to provide food for thought to many viewers.

We thought the production well-conceived, written, and filmed. It has to a non-Briton that uniquely British documentary film style: the stately pacing, the friendly but authoritative narration, the absence (largely) of background music, and, well, you know it when you see it.

Whatever view one takes on the issues – the recommended maximum number alcohol units per week, the medical and other risks of this or that degree of consumption – the film provides a public service by examining an area not typically front and centre in public consciousness.

Chiles should be commended for his searching honesty viz. a dependance he viewed finally as pronounced, but the film has good value beyond that. The interviews with a doctor and other professionals who deal with alcohol abuse are salutary, as are numerous interviews with citizens about their drinking and the steps some took to control or eliminate it.