went public at the start of October 2013 that it attracted more attention and really started to generate interest
across media and social media sites.
The South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust communications team tried to engage with patients,
the general public and potential viewers as much as possible. Our primary aim in taking part in the series was to
improve understanding of mental illness, to raise awareness and help to destigmatise.
Initially we had a great deal of positive feedback but there was also concern and criticism about the fact that the
series was called ‘Bedlam’.
Bedlam was the product of hard work and negotiations between SLaM, The Garden Productions and
Channel 4. An important factor was that Channel 4 wanted a title that would create interest and attract viewers.
So did we. We took part because we wanted to try and help shift public attitudes about mental health.
You can’t do that if nobody is watching.
It was a tough decision to make as no title is going to be universally acceptable, especially in the field of
With Bedlam we go ‘back to our roots’. The logic of the name being that South London and Maudsley can
trace its origins back to the founding of ‘Bedlam’ in 1247. For the television producers and commissioners, it’s
a word that resonates with people who aren’t familiar with the world of mental health. And for those who are
familiar they will know the significance of the word and how treatment of mentally ill people has evolved since the
It was called provocative, inflammatory and plenty of other names. Of course the history of treating mental illness
is not always positive. Bedlam is a name which is often associated with the incarceration of the mentally ill within
the walls of the asylum and charging people money to view the ‘lunatics’. Some felt we would be reinforcing
stigma by using this title.
For us this was a chance to make the significant contrast between the history of Bedlam and the way
in which mental health services are provided today.
It is almost impossible to quantify but it seems attitudes are very gradually shifting – you only need to
look at the enthusiastic conversations erupting on Twitter throughout the series and the feedback we have
received so far. All four programmes were, at times, uncomfortable and distressing, but also insightful,
inspiring and educational. An underlying theme in the conversations developing on Twitter was that people
no longer felt alone, that treatment and recovery were possible in the right setting. The films showed that your
tax band or the type of car you drive do not matter when it comes to mental illness - nobody is exempt.
The media response has been encouraging. The deep seated ignorance of mentally ill people in the popular
press seemed to have been challenged by Bedlam. We hope this continues.
Bedlam Social Media Report
a week before the first episode of the documentary series was due to air. We looked at the response that
our social media pages (Twitter, Facebook and YouTube) were receiving as well as the volume of traffic
on the SLaM website.
During the month Bedlam was on Channel 4:
the estimated number of accounts reached using #bedlam over the period of the series was
the Twitter handle for MaudsleyNHS was mentioned by other users
the potential reach of MaudsleyNHS retweets and tweets combined was more than
and receiving more than
The response we received on Twitter throughout the series was overwhelmingly positive. During the month
Bedlam was on, SLaM’s Twitter account gained
came after the airing of the second episode of Bedlam. Figures then continually rose as more people were
talking about the programme. The sharp rise in followers was due to the increased commitment to tweeting
and promoting the series on Twitter.
Each week the communications team tweeted live during the episodes and tried to respond directly to any
questions or concerns that arose during the broadcast. Steps were also taken to assure that the series ‘hashtag’
#bedlam was always mentioned in any tweet that was sent from the MaudsleyNHS account. Regular tweets
were sent out every day with updates and information on the programme including links to the SLaM website.
On the days that episodes were airing, high profile Twitter users were directly targeted in a bid for them to
‘retweet’ and raise the profile of #Bedlam. Research carried out after the airing of the first episode suggested
that tweeting mental health charities, other mental health trusts and high profile ‘celebrities’ and politicians such
as Stephen Fry and Tessa Jowell also raised the profile of #bedlam. During each episode #bedlam ‘trended’
which implies that a significantly large number of people were talking about it on Twitter - more than any other
subject at a certain time. During the first episode #bedlam was the top subject, trending on Twitter for at least
40 minutes. By the third episode #Bedlam was trending for more than two hours.
Tracking the ‘potential reach’ - that is the projected number of users who would have seen #bedlam on their
Twitter feeds - gave an idea of roughly how many people were engaging with the conversation. Numbers were
much higher at the beginning of the series, with a projected number of over
accounts during the first
episode, talking or reading about Bedlam tweets. The reason for this large number may be explained by the high
profile Twitter users tweeting about the programme (Louis Theroux, Alistair Campbell, Anxiety UK charity, Rethink
Mental illness charity). For example, Stephen Fry, who has more than six million followers, tweeted about the
programme (as seen in figure 2) and the tweet itself which mentioned #bedlam was eventually retweeted more
than 150 times by his followers. Projected reach numbers decreased as the series continued, however sustained
numbers of #bedlam mentions within tweets and direct mentions of the @MaudsleyNHS handle suggests
that organic conversations about the series and mental health in general continued at a very high and
The viewing figures for each episode reflect the volume of activity on Twitter.
had a total viewing figure averaging
(and a consolidated figure of
) which is reflected in the number of people talking about Bedlam online. Numbers were
steady during the day, but reached their peak at 9pm when the episode aired (fig.3). Episode 1 was the best
performing episode on Twitter:
million accounts reached with #bedlam.
Episode two ‘Crisis’
had an averaging viewing figure of
(and a consolidated figure of
). Again numbers were steady throughout the day, peaking once at 2pm after tweeting
charities and other NHS mental health trusts and reaching their peak at 9pm during the broadcast of
tweets contained #bedlam
has nearly 5 million followers on twitter, tweeting about the show fig.4)
Episode three ‘Psychosis’
had an average viewing figure of
(and a consolidated figure of just over
). Twitter activity was a little different on this episode. The day the hashtag #bedlam was building its
online presence throughout the day, but still peaked once again at 9pm during the broadcast. This may explain
why #bedlam trended on Twitter for a far more significant period of time (approximately two hours) in comparison
to the previous two episodes. Research suggests the nature of the tweets being sent out by @MaudsleyNHS
stimulated more conversation (introducing participants, linking helpful websites and recent articles all performed
accounts were reached with #bedlam
Episode 4 ‘Breakdown’
). Twitter activity continued to trend during the day the episode aired, reaching high figures by
10am (fig.5). Again the nature of the tweets that were being sent out by the MaudsleyNHS stimulated more
conversation and pointed people towards further links on the SLaM webpage.
tweets contained the word bedlam without using the hashtag
Retweets were significantly higher at
(compared to the previous week at 187)
@MaudsleyNHS mentions were also higher than previous weeks, hitting
Some examples of the conversations that were taking place on Twitter throughout the series are shown below.
Trust page increased 36.6% from
throughout the Bedlam series.
The page had an organic reach overall for the posts it made about Bedlam of
These posts also gained a total of
The posts that gained the most attention were posts made following the airing of the first show, bringing
in a total reach of
2087 Facebook accounts
. The most successful post made during the series was
the announcement of the viewing figures for the first episode, which had a reach of
1090 and gained
SLaM website - Bedlam on C4 Page
As a consequence of our online referrals to the SLaM website, traffic on the site increased.
Throughout the course of the series on Channel 4, the designated Bedlam page on SLaM’s website
19,439 unique views
The section of the Bedlam on C4 website that received the most traffic was ‘Behind the scenes’ with a total
The highest unique views came on
(broadcast date for episode two) with the media landing
The visits that each page received were:
of views during the month that the series was on.
From 24 September to 23 October:
From 24 October to 23 November:
An increase in Twitter followers during the series
Figures showing the how far the tweets about #Bedlam reached during episode one
Figures from Episode Four of Bedlam (Breakdown)
Table 1 Continued:
Channel 4 Bedlam media report
mentioned on television
. Articles were mainly positive with the series consistently being chosen
as the ‘critics’ choice’ within the television review sections. The articles had an average daily circulation of
. The average space that was allotted to Bedlam
is a selection of the type of articles that appeared:
As the series continued articles with more of an in-depth analysis continued to appear.
Here are a few examples:
The Evening Standard printed a piece about James, who features in the first episode, as well as the
Radio Times who conducted an interview between Dr Martin Baggaley and Alaistair Campbell, both pieces were
printed prior to the first episode. After the airing of the first episode response from the press was overwhelmingly
supportive and positive, as noted in an article featured in the Daily Mail:
“this hour long documentary about
people with extreme anxiety was an illuminating and brace investigation of what obsessive compulsive
disorder (OCD) really is”
Reviews of the series continued to be positive, Grace Dent in the Independent Weekend Magazine noted
about mental illness on TV, we may as well be gawkers at a 17th century freak show’ it was still a
well-made and delicate piece of television
“Bedlam – which has full access to The Maudsley Hospital in
South London, which traces its roots in treating the mentally ill back to 1247 – is sensitively produced
and totally compelling.”
Bedlam continued to appear in the ‘top picks’ and TV choice sections of magazines and newspapers
throughout the series. The following are a selection of the reviews and listings that the programme was receiving:
The only critical piece of press came from Private Eye, who believed the series did nothing to distinguish
“the notorious “freak shows” at the original hospital – when day trippers and tourists came
to view the disturbed an unhappy – and their modern equivalent in fly-on-the-wall shows that capture
people in extremis”.
As the series continued more articles about how mental health is portrayed within society were published, in
particular an article written by the director David Nath published by The Independent highlighted the media’s
influences on mental health patients:
“Lloyd’s deep-rooted anxiety about his diagnosis was a product of
years of sensation and inaccurate media reporting about the risks posed by paranoid schizophrenic
patients living in the community”.
Reviews and television listings continued to highlight the success of the series.
Overall Bedlam coverage in the press, both online and in print was positive and encouraging, including extensive
coverage in the Radio Times, Evening Standard and The Guardian.
“It’s gripping, dramatic, often troubling television, but also uplifting in the way it shows
people can and do get better”.
mental health and create a wider understanding of OCD.”
“It’s brave of Bethlem’s staff and patients to open its doors to the cameras…For the
viewer it’s fascinating, because it’s a rare peek inside a fascinating institution few of us get to see.”
Bedlam - Blogs
Here is an example of few. Most were also posted on twitter or facebook.
South London and Maudsley - social media statistics
31 October 2013
(Night of first Bedlam transmission)
Channel 4 research taken from approximately 400 viewers showed
The results showed that:
Attitudes towards mental health
89% of viewers said that the series brought an important taboo issue to a mainstream audience.
88% of viewers said that the series made them realise that anyone could suffer from mental illness
at some point in their lives.
87% of viewers said that the series made them realise that people should be just as sympathetic to
mental health issues as any physical health ailment.
80% of viewers said that the series made them think about how we can change attitudes towards people
suffering from a mental health condition.
77% of viewers said that the series helped to dispel myths about mental health.
73% of viewers said that, having watched the programme, they think that the mental health services should
be able to intervene in people’s lives – rising to 79% for those who have either suffered from a mental health
condition or have a friend or family member who has.
Portrayal of mental health patients and staff
86% of viewers said that the series highlighted the hard work of NHS staff in treating mental health.
80% of viewers said that the series provided a view of mental health that they hadn’t seen before
79% of viewers said that the series portrayed mental health sufferers in a more positive light than the media
91% of viewers rated the series as either excellent or good, rising to 95% amongst 16-34 year olds and 99%
for those who watched all four episodes.
Communications and Media Department
South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust
020 3228 2021
020 3228 6000