With the NHS and healthcare in general never far from the headlines, the arrival of Richard Eyre’s Allelujah couldn’t be more timely.
Based on Alan Bennett’s stage play and set in the geriatric wards of much-loved hospital, The Bethlehem – known to the community at “The Beth” – the film follows the staff and patients as they cope with the possibility of closure and the many pressures and challenges of working or living there. Some confront personal problems, others find themselves questioning their beliefs and, ultimately, the hospital is rocked by an unexpected event. It’s a heartwarming drama with a serious side.
Director Richard Eyre, together with actors David Bradley and Bally Gill spoke to us about the making of the film, and especially how the cast and crew were more like a family. Eyre had worked with many of them before – particularly Judi Dench – and recalled a wonderful atmosphere on set. To use his own words, “it beat working!” Bradley – better known to After Life fans as Ricky Gervais’ dad – plays one of the patients and particularly enjoyed dancing with co-star Jennifer Saunders, while Gill, who stars as an idealistic young doctor, recalled lots of laughter on set, especially in his scenes with Dame Judi.
Allelujah is released in UK cinemas on 17 March 2023.