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Mum and Dad Are Splitting Up

Thu Sep 5, 9-10pm, BBC2

You don’t have to have been party to a marital separation to recognise the complexity of emotions and depth of hurt on display in Olly Lambert’s terribly sad and deeply affecting documentary. Some years on from the split, five teenagers and their estranged parents recall – with raw and frightening precision – the exact circumstances of the day of reckoning.

Although it’s equally telling that any insights into the specific reasons for it remain mired in miscommunication and awkwardness. What could be horribly exploitative – marriage counselling on camera while the kids sit in – becomes revealing and deeply involving, thanks to Lambert’s canny combination of fearlessness and empathy.

Too much has been left unsaid for too long in many of these families: in opening up so publicly, a long-overdue healing process looks like beginning, while it may also prompt a little soul-searching among viewers too. It’s easy to talk about putting the children first, but a lot harder in practice.