Stephen with Brenda Fricker and Kizzy Mee
'Sweet Charity' aired on 10th March 2007
This episode was filmed for Comic Relief and the intent was to highlight the plight of mental health and the effect it has on not only the individual, but on their friends and family.
Stephen played Sam Roach, son of Megan Roach (Brenda Fricker, who returned for this one-off special).
Sam is the father of a young daughter, Emer (Kizzy Mee) and a teenage son, 17 year old Colm (Ben Lloyd-Hughes). Sam is distressed as Colm has painted Emer's room pink 'to keep her safe' and then disappeared. As he is trying to calm his young daughter, who blames him, she runs out the door to be confronted by her Grandmother, Megan, who has just arrived. In the ensuing conversation it transpires that Sam doesn't believe his son may have a problem, instead blaming his erratic behaviour on his age. Megan is less than convinced, even when Sam assures her he has seen a doctor with Colm and there is nothing wrong with the boy. They are interrupted by a phone-call from the hospital to say Colm has just been admitted, having harmed himself. The story then gradually unfolds - Colm is hearing voices and is very frightened but Sam will not admit to him having a problem - even though he later confesses the GP had mentioned mental illness. He feels he is to blame and has let his wife down, as he had promised to care for both children. It transpires that Colm is paranoid and delusional and needs professional help - and then Megan tells Sam that his father suffered in the same way, though they had kept it hidden throughout his lifetime.
This was a very emotional episode. Stephen was excellent in the role of Sam, and any parent will have felt his pain at being unable to help his son and facing up to a diagnosis that he worries will have repercussions for Colm due to the stigma attached to mental illness.