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Rachel Bruno: My Dad and Me

Rachel Bruno: My Dad and Me

Tue Jul 23, 9-10pm, BBC3

By David Clack
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So far, BBC3’s ‘It’s a Mad World’ season has been spot on, exploring mental health issues from engaging, tactful angles. And they’ve saved the best till last with this fantastic, touching look at bipolar disorder, led by Frank Bruno’s 26 year-old daughter Rachel.

In 1995, Bruno was the greatest heavyweight boxer in the world. Eight years later, at the behest of his family, he was sectioned under the mental health act and diagnosed as bipolar – a condition that afflicts sufferers with terrifying mood swings. In the decade since, we’ve heard very little of ‘Bonkers Bruno’ (as The Sun’s infamous headline had him), who’s become increasingly reclusive and disconnected from his family.

In a bid to understand her father’s illness, Rachel talks to the psychiatrist who originally analysed him, visits support groups for the families of fellow bipolar sufferers and interviews men who’ve endured similar breakdowns. None of these moments, though, come close to the poignancy of Rachel and Frank’s one-on-one meetings.

Interspersed with home video taken during Bruno’s prime, the footage of a bumbling, confused recluse is saddening to behold, with frustration clear on the faces of both parties. Stick with it though, as the London Marathon provides a happy ending of sorts, offering signs that Frank’s not out for the count just yet.
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