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Saturday, 18 December 2010

Jeff Brazier: Me And My Brother (BBC)

I like Jeff Brazier. He's one of those people who looks like a ready-made TV presenter. All shiny teeth and shiny hair. But there's more to him. He was Jade Goody's fella for a while. He was there with her until the end, even though they weren't together any longer. 

He's also got a younger brother, seven years his junior, who has cerebral palsy. Spencer Brazier doesn't see himself as being disabled. But he does have severe communication problems. If you don't know him well enough, you're not likely to be able to understand him when he speaks to you. He has a completely normal IQ, very good use of his legs and whatever... all in all, he's just a normal bloke. But he can't speak. He lives with his Mother and she does too much for him. 

Jeff Brazier: Me And My Brother explores Jeff's attempts to reconnect with his brother and hopefully offer a slice of independence back to him. Through the use of a borrowed iPad, utilised as a specialised communications computer, Jeff and Spencer spend the majority of the documentary bickering like the best of brothers always do - and spelling "Spencer is a nob-head" on the iPad, to be spoken in true Hawking style, to much laughter from both brothers. The whole show is a lovely, touching look into the difficult lives of brothers who have lost that connection of childhood. Forget the so-called disability that Spencer has, this programme is about brothers.

It's still available on iPlayer, for a while at least. And I recommend you have a look. It's the least patronising, most life-affirming and wholly honest BBC Three documentary the channel has ever shown. It's not just "celebrity and his disabled brother laid bare" like so many of these BBC Three shows. 

This is a real story with  real people and real events. The scene where the Brazier boys have a bit of a scrap in the street, Spencer in his pants, is both funny and moving. It's packed with humour, too. This isn't a "feel sorry for Spencer" show, this is about the relationship between the two normal Essex Boys, thrown back together after a period of "growing up" lived separately. There's a beautiful connection between the boys, where neither are afraid to tell the other to fuck right off. But this show is also filled with affection and brotherly love - done only as brothers can. My favourite bit of dark humour between the brothers is Jeff's questioning of Spencer's football skills during a kick-about in their local park: "Spence, I'm not taking the piss here mate, but how are your dribbling skills?"

Please watch this show. It's really great. I bloody hate BBC Three, but this is just wonderful...