Ricky Gervais’ Netflix series, After Life follows Tony, a grief-stricken widower, whose mental health suffers tremendously after his wife passes away from breast cancer. Whilst visiting his wife’s grave, Tony meets an elderly widower, Anne, whose late husband is buried in the same cemetery.
Throughout the series, the two become friends and frequently sit on the same bench in the cemetery to discuss everything from life and love to death and depression. Anne becomes “the one person Tony can let his guard down with, can open up to and be himself” around.
To celebrate the release of season 3, Netflix teamed up with the mental health charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) to launch a new “initiative for people struggling with their mental health.” Since January 2022, thirty benches have been donated to parks across the UK, inscribed with the poignant line from the show “Hope is everything”.
Each bench also features a QR code linking to online mental health resources. The charity hopes that these benches will become a place for people to talk, as it becomes for Tony and Anne. CALM CEO Simon Gunning explains: “Park benches provide opportunities to reflect, talk to someone, sit shoulder to shoulder with someone and get things off your chest.” As Gervais explains, “We hope the benches will become a place for people to visit.”
For those in or around Streatham searching for a place to talk, or simply reflect, one of these benches can be found in The Rookery, in the gardens of Streatham Common.
If you are experiencing feelings of loss and grief, or are struggling with your mental health, you can contact the Samaritans hotline 24/7 on 116 123, or the CALM helpline every day from 5pm-midnight on 0800 58 58 58.