TELEVISION / BRIEFING: A bleak end to winter

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The Independent Culture
By the end of her life, all Muriel Prior, aged 77, could say was 'I love you.' Apparently dazed, she repeated the phrase over and over again. Struck down by Alzheimer's Disease, she has recently died. Muriel is one of the sufferers from this dreadful condition featured in Tony Harrison's Screenplay special, BLACK DAISIES FOR THE BRIDE (9pm BBC2). Broadcast to highlight National Alzheimer's Awareness Week (5-11 July), the film, directed by Peter Symes, uses the patients, families and staff of Whernside Ward at High Royds Hospital in Menston, West Yorkshire, to show the distressing effects of memory and speech loss. But this is no straightforward documentary; Harrison interweaves repetitive musical, visual and poetic motifs to create a mesmerising and moving film. The actresses Cathryn Bradshaw, Maria Friedman and Maria Bovino play three of the patients in their younger days. As the trio processes down an empty corridor at High Royds in full bridal get-up, a singer runs through a version of 'In the Bleak Midwinter' with new words: 'Kath, Muriel, Maria, they've all lost their ways, / Bearing through the blizzard withering bouquets.'

(Photograph omitted)