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Probably my favourite documentary, worthy of being the first documentary I post on Live Free Die Travelling. Only Human – The strangest village in Britain is a documentary about a small North Yorkshire village called… Botton.
Here in Botton, nearly half of the 300 occupants of the village have a learning disability of some kind (down-syndrome, autism or mental illness etc), known as the ‘villagers’ and are grouped together with ‘co-workers’ who come from around the world to work directly with people with special needs.
Anthony is my favourite character, a lovable, yet often grumpy old man who’s not afraid to speak his mind. He has an ongoing feud with another villager called Pamela both of whom work in one of Botton’s many workshops.
Most of the co-workers who live in Botton are Christian and base their lives following the philosophic principles of Rudolf Steiner who believes that this style of communal living is beneficial to all parties. This style of communal living often means that families can have some 10+ people living in the house, a mix of both villagers and co-workers, adults and children.
Katie, another character, has a fear of slipping, and has an unusually high pitched voice. House-mates of John, a caring person with a ‘small amount’ of down syndrome and tells the occasional ‘white lie’.
Barry is the most fashionable one of all the villagers and knows it. He was born on platform 9 in Paddington Train Station, London and has been living in Botton in for 25 years. He originally came to Botton after escaping from Winston Green Prison, or so he claims, though he’s unsure of exactly how it happened, in his own words “it just came out of the blue”.
Whilst many, MANY parts of this documentary are hilarious is does have some serious under-tones and raises a lot of important issues.
Produced by Channel 4 as part of their Only Human Series in celebration of Botton’s 50th Year in operation. I think The Strangest Village in Britain is one of the best episodes of the series. Whilst episodes are no longer hosted on 4OD you are likely to find them on YouTube. Only Human Series Episode List.