Somewhere Boy, a new eight-part drama on Channel 4 with a script by Pete Jackson, follows Lewis Gribben's apprehensive 18-year-old character Danny as he makes his first foray into the outside world after growing up alone. Rory Keenan portrays Danny's father, Steve, who essentially holds Danny prisoner in an attempt to protect him from the "monsters" who could otherwise kidnap him. Is Somewhere Boy based on a true story? The show is both heartbreaking and endearing in equal measure.
The notion is by no means novel; see, for instance, Room and Dogtooth. Pete Jackson, the show's creator, did not grow up in isolation, but he did base his character Somewhere Boy on some reality. People "may fall through the cracks," he said Channel 4, "especially if you avoid social media or any touch with the outside world." There are several accounts of people who were detained by their parents, guardians, or caregivers. Jackson stated that abuse "is always front and centre." When asked if viewers would find the story credible, he also provided examples of people who live off-grid, in particular the 2011 documentary Dreams Of A Life about a woman who was discovered in her flat five years after she passed away.
In an interview with the Guardian, Jackson also acknowledged that he had included aspects of his personal life into the show, such as the heartwarming scene in which Danny and his father were listening to records. According to Jackson, his father possessed a Technics MK 1 record player that "held pride of place in the living room." We used to sit and listen to albums together, myself and him. This explains why the scene seems so genuine; it is based on a true experience.
He continued by saying that he had taken the record player from his father's garage and carried on the custom with his own son. "It reminded me of that period. These innocent, secure times in childhood are so short. How worried we are that they will end and what we might do to keep them going.
He claimed that this concept served as the show's foundation. What if you took all possible measures to prevent those cosy little fictions from coming to an end? What would happen if a father went too far with this? In this approach, Somewhere Boy serves as "kind of a cautionary story" and a "allegory of growing up," he said. In the end, it's about a parent wanting to stop time and protect his child. Growing up is terrifying, he observes.