Sunday 21 January 2018

Churchill fitted with straitjacket

The statue of Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square is fitted with a straitjacket
The statue of Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square is fitted with a straitjacket

Statues of prominent historical figures including Sir Winston Churchill have been fitted with straitjackets during raids to highlight issues of mental illness.

The stunt was carried out by Channel 4 ahead of its season of primetime programmes looking at the stigma of mental health, 4 Goes Mad. The figures were kitted out with bespoke jackets emblazoned with the name of an illness from which each of them was said to have suffered.

The figure of Churchill in Parliament Square was famously given a new look 12 years ago when a strip of turf was laid on the scalp to give the appearance of a mohican during May Day disturbances.

Other notable statues to be targeted in the guerrilla raids were Florence Nightingale in London's Waterloo Place, Charles Darwin in Shrewsbury and Samuel Johnson in Lichfield.

Footage of the stunt was also captured for a short film to be screened in the station's arts strand, Random Acts, during the season which begins on Monday.

Lina Prestwood, the commissioning editor for the season, said: "Despite the fact one in four of us are likely to experience a mental health condition in our lifetime, misunderstanding and stigma persists.

"We wanted to demonstrate how outmoded attitudes towards mental illness can be - by using the archaic image of the straightjacket in conjunction with individuals whose achievements have made them some of the most celebrated Britons of all time - they also happened to have mental health conditions."

Former prime minister Churchill suffered severe bouts of depression, which he referred to as his "black dog".

Jane Harris, associate director of charity Rethink Mental Illness, said: "We're pleased to see Channel 4 putting mental health on the agenda with this bold stunt. Churchill in a straightjacket is a provocative but powerful image which highlights the message that mental illness can affect anyone, no matter how able or successful."

During the season comedian Jon Richardson will investigate obsessive compulsive disorder, while Ruby Wax will follow a number of successful business people as they disclose their mental health problems to employers and in some cases their families.

Press Association

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