Interview with Jonathan Stadlen, Managing Director of Knickerbockerglory TV, who has been working with ellenor for the past four months as he produces a new documentary series called The Hospice, capturing ellenor’s vital work and challenging the myths surrounding hospice care.
Jonathan and his team create films and documentaries that tell unique stories, inspire hope and bring positive change. You may be familiar with some of his programmes, which include GPs: Behind Closed Doors, In Therapy and Mind the Age Gap.
Q: Who is Knickerbockerglory? What do you do and why?
A: Knickerbockerglory is an independent production company specialising in programmes that challenge people’s preconceptions about institutions or people - from alcoholics to GPs. We are a profit-sharing company and donate a percentage of our profits to charity.
Q: You originally chose to make a pilot film on ellenor. This has now turned into a 13-part documentary series. Tell us what drew you to filming inside a hospice, and why you chose us?
A: I’ve always been amazed how in life - as well on TV - we celebrate people coming into the world, but shy away from talking about how we leave it. One Born Every Minute was a huge success, but I could never understand why there wasn’t a version documenting how we leave. I wanted to celebrate the work done by hospices like ellenor to help people during their remaining days. ellenor had such a good reputation and a fantastic group of staff who it’s been a privilege to follow.
Q: What do you hope the series will achieve?
A: I was struck by what staff said when we first came, that this isn’t a place where people come to die, but a place where they come to live. I hope the audience will come to understand that through the series, and in turn have some of their preconceptions about palliative and hospice care challenged.
Q: Who do you expect will be interested in watching the TV series?
A: As death is the one thing guaranteed to happen to us all, I hope it will interest everyone - I’m going to watch it with my family because I’d like them to better understand what happens at the end of life, and what amazing support there is to help us live those remaining days more fully.
Q: What reaction do you expect from people when they watch the series?
A: Hopefully they’ll be moved and inspired. I’ve laughed, cried and been touched by the humanity of the staff and the courage of the patients.Making this programme has made me reconsider the meaning of life.There is a lot of wisdom to be learned from those who face the prospect of death every day - and from what they have discovered to be important.
Q: Your crew must have been apprehensive before they arrived. Is there a particular moment you’d like to share with us?
A: I think many of them were nervous - but once they spent time with patients and saw the love, care and humour they shared with staff, they quickly realised it was very different to what they thought. Watching the care given to a young girl with a terminal heart condition was one of the most moving experiences we have had.
Q: How can people get involved and support the series?
A:The documentary series will be aired on Tuesday 8th May at 10pm on Together on Freeview, Sky, Virgin, freesat and on demand services, like TV Player. The series will show how every single precious moment matters as it follows the deeply personal stories of both adults and children who are receiving end-of-life care both in their own homes, and at theellenorinpatient ward in Gravesend.
You can get involved using the hashtag #HelpYourHospice.
Do tune in and watch our amazing families, volunteers and staff tell their stories. The programme starts on Tuesday 8 May at 10pm, and will be shown weekly until Tuesday 31 July.