Michael Portillo: Death of a School Friend


When Michael Portillo was at school, a close friend in the same class killed himself.

Gary was popular and good looking, a gifted musician and a clever student but just before his 16th birthday he committed suicide - leaving a note telling his parents he loved them and asking them - "Please, don’t be sad".

In detailed and moving interviews with Gary’s parents and younger brother, Michael learns how impossible it was for them to fulfil this plea. How Gary’s suicide and their enduring sense of loss has coloured their lives ever since.

The implicit message from Gary’s family to anyone who may be in despair and thinking of ending their life is - please, think hard about the affect on those you are leaving behind.

It cannot help but be a sad film, but it is uplifted by the courage shown by the family in reviving such painful memories - by home video revealing a happy and carefree family and by wonderful music, especially the music which was composed by Gary and lost for 40 years - only to be rediscovered in the making of the film and performed by his younger brother.

A Liberty Bell Production for BBC Two

Join Mailing List