'Kate Garraway's Derek Draper documentary should be a wake up call for the government'

Kate Garraway: Derek's Story was a heartbreaking watch. (ITV)
Kate Garraway: Derek's Story was a heartbreaking watch. (ITV)

In a week where several high profile names and some less well known, er, commentators have been publicly apologising for trolling the Princess of Wales, it would be nice to think that a similar avalanche of remorse could soon be on its way to another famous Kate.

Unfortunately that would mean those who have been calling Kate Garraway “grifter”, “grief junkie” and other charming names had dragged themselves away from their keyboards and actually watched her heartbreaking ITV documentary Kate Garraway: Derek’s Story.

Even if they had have, I am sure one or two would have remained unmoved. Some people have disappeared so far down conspiracy theory rabbit holes they will no doubt be popping back up to claim that her husband Derek Draper never had COVID.

Perhaps it would be best not to waste any more time on such people.

That said, some of the gallows humour has been quite funny. Having met Derek and Kate several times over the years, I have a feeling that a sarcastic line like “When is she opening the health spa?” would have raised a smile in a dark moment. I could be wrong, but let’s not be hypocritical about bad taste jokes.

Watch: Kate Garraway and Derek Draper open birthday cards together

On the milder end of the scale, I am glad that some other people have been expressing surprise that a rich and successful TV presenter is claiming that caring for Derek has left her facing financial ruin.

As Kate revealed, Derek’s basic care package cost £4,000 a week. That £208,000 a year was a hefty chunk out of her ITV and Smooth Radio wages. And there were other Derek-related bills to pay on top of that, plus the regular costs any household faces.

That is surely one of the reasons why Kate agreed to ITV airing this documentary so soon after Derek’s death in January this year.

For anyone watching it would have been a classic case of “there but for the grace of God”. If it can happen to a family like Derek and Kate’s it can happen to anyone’s family. And if the safety net of social care is not there then it may well not matter how rich and successful you are.

The other reason why the documentary made it to air became clear in the opening moments. Derek was sitting up in bed, looking and sounding much more alive and alert than we had seen him at the end of the previous film.

Derek Draper required round-the-clock care after contracting Covid in the early days of the pandemic. (ITV)
Derek Draper required round-the-clock care after contracting Covid in the early days of the pandemic. (ITV)

He was mainly writing his thoughts in a notepad, but he found the strength to say one particular line out loud. “My name is Derek Draper, and I want you to hear my story.”

Seeing Derek like that, it was easy to understand why, as recently as May 2023, Kate seemed much more upbeat than in the previous two films.

“I’m trying to look a bit more organised this time,” she laughed. “Because we’re now three years on and I feel like I should be able to at least see a little bit of floor.”

At which point the camera panned to the Lego bombsite which was covering the living room carpet. Later, as Kate wildly hacked the tops off some boiled eggs with a steak knife I did begin to question whether she was holding it together as well as she seemed to be making out.

Of course, Derek’s moments of clarity and Kate’s moments of hilarity were bittersweet for the viewer. We knew there was not going to be a happy ending, but having followed their journey for the past four years it seemed oddly right that we were allowed to be there for the end of the story.

That’s another reason why neither Kate nor ITV should apologise for “milking it”. In purely journalistic terms, what happened to Kate and Derek was a great story and it made for an engrossing real-life documentary.

Derek Draper and Kate Garraway during the News at Ten party at the Radisson hotel.
Derek Draper and Kate Garraway in the early days of their marriage. (PA) (Chris Bull)

Obviously, it was almost too hard to watch the footage of the couple’s 2005 wedding day (Derek’s speech: “I have never felt more alive than I do in Kate’s presence.”) and Derek’s funeral, and to hear Kate admitting she wishes she had just spent more time just holding Derek’s hand instead of wading through red tape and butting heads with bureaucracy.

The thing that hit me hardest though was the interview with Derek’s brilliant carer Jake, who revealed that although his time with Derek was unbelievably challenging, “I always had that joy — so I do miss him.”

An onscreen caption then revealed that following Derek’s death Jake has decided to take a break from the care system.

Who can blame him? As Kate eloquently explained, “It’s a system that should be there to catch you when you fall, but feels like a system that’s trying to catch you out.”

And that, I think, was the real point of this documentary. To shine a light on the struggle faced by all carers and, hopefully, to prick so many consciences in Westminster that a solution is found.

Derek may not get a health spa named after him, but if his experience effects real change in social care provision in this country I’m guessing he’d have taken that.

Kate Garraway: Derek's Story is available to stream on ITVX.

Read more: Derek's Story

This article originally appeared on Yahoo TV UK at https://uk.news.yahoo.com/kate-garraway-derek-draper-documentary-wake-up-call-government-100743270.html