Louis Theroux is somewhat of a national treasure.
He’s not quite Attenborough-level - not yet - but he’s definitely on a journey in that direction. He’s a man we’re always happy to see on our TV screens, and his documentaries are the perfect Sunday hangover fodder - anyone who claims they’ve never has to click ‘yes’ when Netflix asks ‘Are you still watching Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends?’ is a liar.
In recent years he’s moved away from exploring quirky subjects such as swingers and wrestling, and moved more towards the serious stuff - his most recent BBC series, particularly the episode which centred around alcoholics, was harrowing, but showed that Louis is a brilliant filmmaker even when he’s not making us laugh. He has a soft side which helps him genuinely connect with those he’s interviewing.
It’s this more serious side of Louis that will return for his new BBC 2 shows this year - the titles of his three new documentaries have now been revealed, with the first one airing very soon - Sunday 8 October, at 9pm.
It will be an hour-long episoide called Louis Theroux: Dark States - Heroin Town, and will explore drug use and addiction in the USA.
Here’s how the BBC describe the new show:
“America’s love affair with prescription painkillers has led to widespread dependency on opiates. But following a crackdown on their over-prescription, where does this leave the two million Americans who have developed a habit for these high-strength painkillers?
“With the pills now becoming increasingly expensive and scarce on the black market, vast numbers of Americans have turned to the cheaper and stronger opiate: heroin. The drug now claims more lives in the US than either car accidents or gun crime. And, for the first time in over two decades, life expectancy in the US is declining - largely attributed to the rise in fatal heroin overdoses.
“In Huntington, West Virginia, Louis Theroux embeds himself in an Appalachian community that is being devastated and stretched to its limits by widespread heroin use. With one in ten babies in the city born dependent on opiates and a fatal overdose rate 13 times the national average, this is the epicentre of the most deadly drug epidemic in US history.
“Louis spends time with the user community caught in the vice-like grip of drug misuse and follows the emergency services struggling to cope with multiple overdoses each day.”
The following two docs will be called Murder in Milwaukee and Sex Trafficking Houston - again, I don’t think we can expect many laughs, but Louis will give us an insight into some of the most troubling, devastating problems America is dealing with right now.
Speaking to The Independent earlier this year, Theroux said: “I immerse myself in some of the most dysfunctional and disturbing aspects of American society. They combine hard-hitting actuality with intimate interviews.
“I have been granted access to the police in several states; I’ve got to know the people affected by crime - and I’ve also spent time with the perpetrators of crime, with the idea of understanding the causes of it, both on a systemic level and also in a very personal way.”
With more Attenborough on the way, and now Louis confirmed for just a couple of weeks time, we really are in for a treat this autumn - why would you ever need to leave the sofa?