Ben Miller explains personal inspiration behind short film on loneliness for GMB

The actor, 56, created and directed A Slice Of Life for the 1 Million Minutes campaign.
The actor, 56, created and directed A Slice Of Life for the 1 Million Minutes campaign. The actor, 56, created and directed A Slice Of Life for the 1 Million Minutes campaign.

Ben Miller has said feelings of “hopelessness” he felt following the death of his father helped inspire a short film he has created for Good Morning Britain’s festive campaign.

1 Million Minutes, which launched in 2016, is running again throughout December with the aim of encouraging viewers to pledge their time to charities that tackle loneliness.

Titled A Slice Of Life, Miller’s piece tells the story of a woman brought low by the death of her wife Alex, an avid cook, who is surprised by her family who all arrive at her house having prepared her late partner’s signature dishes.

The actor and children’s author, 56, who created and directed the film, told the PA news agency: “One of the greatest gifts someone can give you is to cook for you, to make something. On the rare occasions I make a cake and take it around to someone’s house, it is a great thing to do.

“So I knew I wanted to do something about the importance of food – something about community, something about being alone at this time of year, something about trying to be on your own.

“I remember when my dad died that I felt almost hopeless at some points, like there wasn’t much point in carrying on. And I think that is quite a common experience when you lose someone close to you, something that quite a lot of people go through.

“I thought it would be nice to write a story about a character who is in that situation, whose partner used to be a really keen cook, a fantastic cook, and without them they can’t even raise the energy to just butter a slice of bread. They couldn’t even manage to do that.

“I liked the idea of that as a starting point for the story.”

The two-minute film shows the woman sat alone in her kitchen following the death of her wife.

Her fond memories are interrupted by reality as she struggles to even butter a piece of bread.

But upon opening the front door she is greeted by members of her extended family who have all brought her versions of “Nana Alex’s chicken”.

It ends with her kitchen full of people eating, drinking, talking and laughing together with the tagline, “Join the fight to end loneliness. Pledge some time to 1 Million Minutes”.

Speaking about the campaign, Miller told PA: “With 1 Million Minutes you don’t have to pledge any money, you can pledge your time, and you can make an enormous difference to someone’s life.

“When it comes to things like loneliness, time spent with somebody really can be the difference between life or death. It really can be that momentous.

“So that was the thing we were trying to get across. And also to try and get across that it is a joyful thing.

“This will bring joy to you and bring joy to other people as well, whatever the situation they find themselves in.”

Since launching in 2016, Good Morning Britain says 404 million minutes of time have been donated to charities in need of volunteers.

As well as supporting ITV’s Britain Get Talking campaign, charities involved this year include Alzheimer’s Research UK, Alzheimer’s Society and Grief Encounter.

Neil Thompson, editor of Good Morning Britain, said: “Amongst the baubles and celebrations, we know all too well that many people across the UK find Christmas a very lonely and isolating time.

“Unfortunately, this Christmas those same vulnerable people may also be facing the prospect of a cold and hungry festive period, thanks to the current cost of living crisis.

“Here at Good Morning Britain, we want to help. That’s why, for the seventh year running, we’re launching our award winning social purpose campaign – 1 Million Minutes.”

Watch Good Morning Britain’s 1 Million Minutes campaign weekdays in December from 6am on ITV1. Pledges can be made on the ITV website.