BBC launch new online tools to help people living with dementia as part of special season

Angela Rippon
Angela Rippon

The BBC is launching a range of new online tools to mark Dementia Awareness weeks around the UK.


The tools – ‘RemArc’ and ‘Your Memories’ – have been developed by the BBC to help trigger conversations and memories amongst those living with dementia.  They will continue to be accessible to audiences, including those living with dementia and brain injury and their carers, in the future. Alongside this the BBC has produced two special online iWonder guides and a large range of associated programming on the subject of dementia.


The BBC has worked in collaboration with various charities in the lead up to this season of programming, including Alzheirmer’s Research UK, Alzheimer Scotland, Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia Friends, Dementia UK, Join Dementia Research, Playlist for Life, YoungDementia UK, and Wales Dementia Helpline. We have also worked closely with the NHS and the Universities of Dundee, St Andrews and the West of Scotland in developing the resources.


All the resources and associated programming is available at


Peter Rippon, Editor BBC Online Archive and Connected Studio, said:


“Dementia is an increasingly important issue for our audiences. The Dementia charities and academic experts have been invaluable in helping BBC storytellers and digital teams develop their ideas. The RemArc and Your Memories pilots on the Taster platform show the BBC opening up one of its greatest assets, its archive, in collaboration with others for the public good. We will continue the collaboration to develop and test the ideas over the coming months.”


Professor Alistair Burns, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for dementia, said:


“We welcome the work the BBC is doing in support of Dementia through their Dementia Season and online resources. Raising awareness is key in supporting those people living with Dementia, families and carers.”


Online resources




BBC RemArc is the BBC Reminiscence Archive. This archive of BBC video clips, audio clips and images provides access to a selection of content from the BBC Archives, designed to support reminiscence work with people with dementia, their carers and families.


The principle of reminiscence therapy is to assist people who have dementia to interact and converse in a natural way by stimulating their long-term memory with material from the past. It is often the case that long-term memory can still function when the person’s working (short-term) memory is degraded. Tapping into long-term memory can make it possible once again for them to enjoy interacting with others, through their stories.


RemArc has been developed by the BBC Archive Development team and is available now.


Your Memories


Your Memories is a digital pilot project that carers and family members of those with dementia can use to help trigger memories and conversation.  Input a few biographical details and Your Memories creates a slideshow of photos, music and BBC programme clips that are evocative of a person’s life story, particularly their childhood and early adult life, when people with dementia often retain the most vivid memories.




The BBC iWonder guide How close are we to stopping Alzheimer’s?, presented by University College London neuroscientist Dr Catherine Slattery, shows how Alzheimer’s affects the brain, introduces a promising new drug trial and discusses whether lifestyle factors like sleep can really make a difference.


A specially-commissioned animation allows the audience to control the timeline, to watch an unprecedented view of an individual brain cell deteriorating with Alzheimer’s. Experts working at the forefront of the latest research discuss the evidence for methods of stopping Alzheimer’s, and empower the audience to make their own choices.


The guide is available now at:


The BBC has also produced Can technology help defuse the dementia time bomb? – which looks at the ways in which modern technology, such as ‘smart houses’ can help those living with dementia and provide alternatives to expensive care.


Special programming


To complement the online resources the BBC has been broadcasting a number of special programmes this week.


Shown last night The Truth about Dementia (19th May) – BBC One

Seventy-one year-old presenter and Alzheimer’s ambassador Angela Rippon investigates the disease that took her mother’s life and is now starting to affect her friends.


Panorama (2nd June) – BBC One


In a powerful documentary filmed over almost two years, one family living with dementia reveals what life is really like – behind closed doors. Using CCTV cameras, video diaries and a small, immersive film crew, we follow 55-year-old Chris Roberts from North Wales as he, his wife Jayne and youngest daughter Kate come to terms with his Alzheimer’s diagnosis.


From making the decision to choose his own care home to writing a living will, getting lost in his own house and not recognising his family, Chris chronicles his changing life as his independence slips away.


Suppose I lose it: update (Available now) – Radio 4

Now in her 80s, one issue looms ahead for Joan Bakewell and others from her generation – the fear of dementia. In this programme, Joan asks what she might expect and how she should prepare if she receives the diagnosis.


Denis Skinner Vs Dementia (Available now) – Radio 2

A Radio 2 documentary presented by Jeremy Vine and featuring Labour MP Dennis Skinner, whose mother and sister both had dementia. Dennis has turned to singing songs to fend off the disease. He has no scientific proof that singing keeps dementia at bay, but it appears to help the elderly people in the care homes he visits.


Radio 4 will have special programming on You and Yours, Woman’s Hour, All in the Mind and Today. Radio 1, FiveLive and BBC Radio Wales have also covered the issue in their reporting. 


The following programmes have already been broadcast across the BBC and are available on iPlayer:


  • Horizon: Curing Alzheimer’s
  • Trust me, I’m a Doctor: How can I avoid getting dementia?
  • Trust me, I’m a Doctor: The Big Brain Maintenance Experiment
  • CBBC: My Life – Mr Alzheimer and Me
  • How to stay young, Episode 2
  • Inside the Ethics Committee
  • The Doctor’s Dementia


BBC Scotland


Memories and Conversations – New Approaches to Dementia


BBC Scotland are running a multi-platform campaign over 5 weeks, starting in the Scottish Dementia Awareness Week 30th May – 5th June.  The focus is on using photos, music, and BBC programme clips to help trigger memories for people with dementia, giving people with dementia a voice, and living well with dementia. More information can be found here:


Special programming includes:


Radio Recall (available now) – BBC Scotland

Sally Magnusson visits Henry Rankin, a retired police officer who has vascular dementia, and shares BBC archive clips that bring back a life full of happy memories for Henry, his wife Anne and daughter Shona.


Living with Dementia (available now)  – BBC Radio Scotland

Kaye Adams and John Beattie meet Anne, Stewart and Ian, who each have a form of dementia.




For audiences inspired by the content to get involved themselves and make a difference, then there’s a guide to Volunteering for dementia. Full of need to know info, useful links and motivating stories it’s from the BBC’s Do Something Great season.


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