Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad: BBC documentary is heartbreaking and cathartic

Ben Travis

There’s no getting around it – Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad is desperately sad.

The footballer has been through the unthinkable. Back in 2015, his wife Rebecca Ferdinand was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer after beating it in 2013.

Less than ten weeks later she had passed away, leaving behind Rio and her three kids.

This raw but cathartic BBC documentary delves into Ferdinand’s grief – or importantly his initial lack thereof – as he comes to terms with what’s happened, and what to do next.


It’s particularly candid, and features the sporting hero being entirely open and reflexive on his near incomprehensible experiences.

“The first ten days was probably one of the most stressful times,” he recalls. “Every turn I made I was seeing her but getting things wrong and having to work it out.

“Thinking about lunch, I never thought about lunch before in my life. I’d never even seen the washing machine and dryer.”

During the film, he comes to the realisation that he perhaps hasn’t properly grieved his loss – that in simply trying to carry on, he hasn’t fully processed what he’d been through.

Ferdinand visits a support group of young widowers, whose shared experience help him come to terms with his own tragedy – and that there’s a way through it. Despite the losses they’ve suffered, they’re able to laugh at calling their story-swap “the s******* game of Top Trumps ever”.

Full of revealing interviews and heart-wrenching details, this is a stark but important documentary about men discussing their feelings. It will likely connect with a lot of viewers at home - and comes across as an experience that feels liberating for Rio himself.

BBC One, 9pm

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