TELEVISION / BRIEFING: When the buck finally stopped

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The Independent Culture
The very title of 15: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PHILIP KNIGHT (9pm ITV) lends the film an inescapable sense of gloom. This true story of a 15- year-old who hanged himself in Swansea prison is not easily digestible; it is tough, unpalatable fare. Three years in the making, this film by Peter (Shoot to Kill) Kosminsky unravels the spiral of decline that led to Philip's suicide on 13 July 1990. Jeremy Brock's script does not lay the blame on any particular doorstep; it just seems that as he slides towards his death, Philip's fingers slip off anything he tries to grab hold of. Spurned by adoptive parents unable to cope with his increasingly destructive behaviour, Philip (the excellent Daniel Newman) is passed like a hot potato around various institutions in Wales. His flashes of humanity - caring for an injured bird - are overlooked by authorities more often exasperated by his violent 'cries for help'. Served with a Certificate of Unruly Behaviour, he is locked in an adult prison, as no children's home is deemed secure enough. It is reassuring to see ITV still making challenging, campaigning progammes. But why has this one been buried in the depths of the summer schedules?

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