The House of Obsessive Compulsives, Channel 4

by | Aug 1, 2005 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

A programme that helped provide a real understanding of Obsessive Compulsive Disorders

What to say if you disliked it

Well-meaning but exploitative.

What was good about it?

• The initial, unintentional humour of the programme (e.g. Wendy being scared of flicks of glitter, Gerry tying chains around his feet to prevent sleepwalking) soon wore off as the three Obsessive Compulsive Disorder sufferers demonstrated how deep-rooted, and ultimately devastating, their conditions were. This wasn’t a programme of grotesque exploitation – we were in for a fascinating, and highly disturbing, exploration of a modern disease.

• The severity of OCD was staggering. Sophie’s obsessive cleaning meant it took her three hours to get ready for bed; Wendy was shown literally living her life through a protective stack of kitchen roll while Gerry had to keep pens away from him for fear of confessing to fictional crimes. “If you said to me, I guarantee you that if you chop your hands off with a kitchen knife, you will be rid of 50 per cent of my OCD, I’d go to the kitchen and do it,” he admitted.

• The partners of the three compulsives heightened the programme’s emotional impact. Their patience, endurance and commitment to their loved ones in more-than-difficult marriages (Wendy’s husband spent nearly all of his time checking for dirt and paint near her) were admirable and endearing.

• Christopher Eccleston as narrator. Could nearly have ruined the programme’s heart and conscience with a fantastical and theatrical narration but he was warm and sympathetic.

• The treatment for the compulsives was satisfying to watch. Halfway through and we were rooting for the three to rid themselves of their “false friend”. Wendy simply being able to touch Sophie without fear of contamination was a moving and uplifting piece of television. The simplest tasks became monumental triumphs and we felt involved in the process.

• “It’s there in all of us,” concluded Professor Paul Salkovskis – a statement unsettling for the viewer but illustrative of the compulsives’ normality, all of who deserve our empathy.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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