I’ve always liked Calum Best. He’s always struck me as a young man who fully realises that were it not for his celebrity dad, he’d be – most likely – just an ordinary bod. But I’ve always alternately felt sorry for him because of that fact and because it was almost an inevitability that we’d all be waiting with baited breath for him to follow in dad’s footsteps and fall off many a barstool.
And if he hadn’t, he would probably have faded into obscurity, but with the media waiting, cameras poised for those like-father-like-son moments, it’s often felt as if he had no choice but to become a serious boozer.
In making this film however, Calum demonstrated that he’s not about to turn into a raging alcoholic just to slake our thirst for a George Best clone and enable us to use clichés about apples not falling far from trees.
What he did demonstrate in this documentary is that he’s not just a pretty face, he’s not just a ‘playboy’ and he’s not just going to drink himself to death to live up to media expectations. He’s genuinely intelligent and empathetic to the plight of children whose childhoods have been dominated by their parents’ addiction to booze.
That’s not to say that he didn’t have sympathy and empathy for the parents though; he took a thoroughly rounded and surprisingly unbiased role in discussing the impact that drinking often and in excess has on families.
And he unearthed some horror stories; not least of which were his own recollections of his father pinning him by the throat against a wall and how George would neglect himself so much, his skin would peel and his personal hygiene was negligible.
Calum’s gentle and understanding approach to the young people he met for the film was touching, as was their response in telling him some of the darkest moments in their lives. Some of those he spoke to didn’t want to be identified for fear of the repercussions for their families on hearing the horrible truths about alcoholism as they’d experienced it. It’s a terribly sad indictment of just how harmful it can be to have parents who are alcoholics.
One concurrent theme was that the children of boozers, Calum included, wanted to be as loved by their parents as much as the bottle was or is. And in Calum’s case, as loved as the adoring fans of his father’s. He met one of those fans who had a picture of George tattooed on his chest, which provided yet another moving moment in a film full of them.
Calum made this film for the Children In Need appeal, and though many of us may often suffer from charity fatigue, it’s quite refreshing to know that in addition to many, many other worthy causes, the children of alcoholics haven’t been forgotten, hidden as they so often are behind a curtain of denial and shame.
And Calum Best should be applauded for his efforts to go behind that curtain and in so doing, revealing some of his own darkest moments.