Saturday 17 February 2024

YouTube Pick: My Brother David

The tale of David Scarboro isn't one I was overly familiar with, but his short life and career on British television is, in itself, very much like the soap opera which defined his early fame. Full of highs, lows and tragedy, it's almost as if the infamous EastEnders doof doofs were positioned perilously above his head once he found fame. And the excellent 1989 edition of Scene entitled My Brother David tells an emotional story, all family pride and revulsion at the way the press tore his life apart.

My Brother David
popped up on my YouTube feed and immediately grabbed my attention. Back in the days of four television channels, the rapid rise in popularity of EastEnders made it a national talking point. The cast were suddenly elevated to public figures and, of course, this captured the attention of the tabloids. Here were some new targets for them to pick over and slap across the pages whenever a misdemeanour - invented or otherwise - occured.

For David Scarboro, as My Brother David shows, the press truly went to town on his private life. Once his career had appeared to falter on Albert Square, they relished the opportunity to ratchet up the pressure on him in order to sell more papers. It feels an intense invasion of privacy, and in many ways the interest they centred on him rivalled the press attention usually reserved for members of the Royal Family, members of Parliament or major pop stars.

There appeared to be a concerted campaign to destroy his young talent, and this evidently worked as his final EastEnders appearences were muted and felt out of step with the rest of the cast. Ultimately, it was a campaign which ended in suicide. Sure, there could have been other contributing factors such as mental health disorders brought on from drug use, but this is purely speculation. And the fact remains that the press intrusion into his life only accelerated any personal problems he had.

My Brother David is an absorbing documentary, made all the more poignant by the contributions made by his family members. Somehow, perhaps due to the anger and injustice they felt, they manage to hold it together on camera, and this acts as a wonderful tribute to their beloved son and brother. Sadly, as we saw with the Caroline Flack tragedy a few years ago, little changes in the way that the British press operates, and so the eternal cautionary tale of fame goes on.

1 comment:

  1. I remember watching this at the time and being both fascinated and horrified at the same time. It's a documentary that has stayed with me over the years. I'll often refer to David's story if the conversation veers towards what an easy life famous folk have.