“Angels in the Asylum” is inspired by real events surrounding a group of women who were incarcerated in a mental asylum for being typhoid carriers. These women were not mentally ill, but over time driven mad by their isolation. The story – set in London between 1932 and 1955 – focuses on Mary, the only woman released from Long Grove Mental Asylum after an eighteen-year ordeal to win her freedom.


For most people, the idea of being judged insane and imprisoned in a mental asylum is the stuff of nightmares. To be locked up when you are sane can only be regarded as an appalling injustice. Yet an exposé by BBC’s "Newsnight" (2008) revealed that 50 women from London were incarcerated and held in isolation at Long Grove, not because they had a mental illness, but because they were typhoid carriers and deemed a public health risk. Once admitted, they never left.

“It’s a sad state of our heritage – that anybody in life has allowed that to happen – or how it ever happened – without a public outcry. These people were condemned to a life of isolation through no fault whatsoever of their own. I miss them so much. They were my life – they were my family and I loved them – each and every one of them.”

Jeanie Kennett, Ward Manager, Long Grove Mental Asylum - 1955-1992

The incarceration of typhoid carriers began as early as 1907 and continued until the 1950s. Long Grove was finally closed in 1992.

The Department of Health denied the story, telling Newsnight, "There is not, and never has been, a policy of incarcerating anyone in this context”.

Below is an excerpt from the exposé, which documents the plight of these women.


I was incensed by the injustice that destroyed the lives of so many innocent women. For months I chased the journalist behind the report. When we met, valuable information came to light about the women at Long Grove. This research further ignited my commitment to exposing the truth behind what happened - the way for me to do that was by turning this story into a film.  

Sadly, in 2008, there wasn’t an appetite for female-driven drama, and I put the project on hold. 

Until 2012, when my Nan passed. Her death changed my direction. I focused all of my time on the script, using my savings to fund the development. 

 My own experiences mean that this story – shining a light on women whose voices were taken away and who found the strength to survive – deeply resonates with me. 

 It is no coincidence that in my film: Mary struggles against the weight of a patriarchal society; is tested, over and over by her nemesis, Dr Anderson; and then, against all the odds, summons her will to survive, finds her voice and decides to fight.  

“Angels in the Asylum” is an original story balancing universal themes of family, friendship, survival, and hope with extremely relevant themes of abuse of power, misogyny and gender inequality. 

 While this is a tragic story, I do not want it to be relentlessly harrowing. It is important that the humour and hope in the script make audiences laugh and cry. I want them to enjoy being incarcerated with the characters that I have created as they did with Andy and Red in “The Shawshank Redemption”, or McMurphy and Martini in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. 

The story of the women behind “Angels in the Asylum” was relegated to the back burners of history. Now the time is right it finally has a chance to be told. 


Earlier this year eighty highly experienced cast and crew came together to make one of the most ambitious proof of concepts ever made. To see how we pulled it off watch our amazing making of here...