Review: Drama that pulls no punches

14th February 2003 at 00:00

Hitting Home season
BBC, February 15-23

It could be your street, it could be mine. It could be your mate, your pupil. If we think somebody is being beaten up at home, what do we do? Especially if they are begging us not to tell anybody.

This is the dilemma at the heart of Behind Closed Doors, a forceful drama for CBBC in which Holly Phillips (Tilly Gerrard), a teenager whose family has just moved to a "respectable" semi-detached neighbourhood, finds herself having to look out for Sam, the cheeky 11-year-old boy next door, whom she suspects is being beaten by his mother's partner.

Behind Closed Doors is powerfully and sensitively realised and acted and pulls no punches. Written by Tim O'Mara and produced by Diana Kyle, a former teacher, in consultation with Childline, Barnardo's and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, it is central to Hitting Home, a special BBC season (February 15-23) that turns the spotlight on domestic violence.

One in four women and one in six men will experience violence in their homes during their lifetime. The Home Office estimates that between one in three and two in three children in homes where the mother is being abused are also at risk, and of the 100,000 children who run away from home every year, around four out of five are escaping family conflict.

Meanwhile, the Government plans to publish a consultation paper this spring setting out proposals to prevent domestic violence. As well as informing the wider public, Hitting Home aims to provide encouragement and support for those affected by domestic violence (backed by a confidential helpline), and to "break down taboos and abolish myths", say the programme makers. "Behind Closed Doors is crucial to the Hitting Home schedule because it brings the issue to children in a careful way," says Diana Kyle.

Behind Closed Doors, CBBC, Sunday, February 16, 5.30pm. The Get Real section of www.bbc.co.ukcbbc nbsp;offers help to younger viewers affected. The website www.bbc.co.ukhittinghome nbsp;provides further details plus a list of relevant conferences and contact numbers. The Hitting Home freephone advice line on 08000 934 934 is live until March 28, 7.30am to midnight.

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