Katie Price: Harvey and Me – Celebrities are real people, too
TV review: The former glamour model has especially acute worries about her son
Katie Price: it’s her fight for her son’s future that makes Harvey and Me such powerful watching
All parents fret about the day their child is finally required to step into the big, bad world and fend for themselves. But for the reality star and former model Katie Price, worries about her 18-year-old son, Harvey, are especially acute. Born with a rare condition that affects his weight and means he has a cognitive age of about seven, he faces many challenges as he prepares to leave school. And it is his mother’s fight for his future that makes Katie Price: Harvey and Me (BBC One, Monday) such powerful watching.
The documentary is, first, a tribute to parental devotion. Price takes Harvey trainspotting. When he is upset she calms him with a loving hug. And when he becomes distressed visiting a residential college where he will continue his education, she quietly encourages him to put on his noise-cancelling headphones. Most importantly, she never loses patience.
But there’s a second layer, as the film asks us to reconsider our attitude towards Price, who, as the glamour model Jordan, once symbolised go-getter early-21st-century fame.
The Price we meet here is very different. She isn’t desperate for attention and doesn’t play up for the cameras. She just quietly and with determination tries to do her best for her boy. The lesson is that celebrities are real people, not just tabloid caricatures, and that they go on having lives long after the paparazzi and the red-tops have turned their attention elsewhere.
Harvey and Me is honest about the challenges posed by Harvey’s disabilities. The plaster around the family home is dented – a result of Harvey “kicking off” in frustration. But the film also reminds us that people with cognitive disabilities have internal lives as rich and fully realised as anyone else’s, as we see when Harvey and his friend Zack meet at Waterloo and take note of all the trains whizzing in and out.
Price meets other mothers in a situation similar to hers. All demonstrate enormous fortitude and compassion. True, there are heartbreaking moments, such as when a disabled young man expresses sadness about having been born with his condition.
But the documentary never condescends to either the parents or the children. It simply shows people getting on with their lives as best they can. And if it doesn’t reach for feelgood moments, the picture it presents of Price as a mother willing to do whatever is required for her son is nonetheless touching. Unsentimental yet full of empathy, Harvey and Me goes some small way towards buttressing your faith in humanity.