Gogglebox Australia

Gogglebox talk: Supporting each other in tough times

This week, the Goggleboxers were brought to tears as they watched a documentary about the too-short life of Robin Williams and a touching Australian Story on the parents of Sara Zelenak, who was killed in a 2017 London terrorist attack.

Every evening in Australia, more than four million of us choose to spend a night in front of the telly. Have you ever wondered what other people are watching? Or how they reacted to the tragic death of Robin Williams? And the moving story of how the parents of Sara Zelenek, a victim in a London terror attack, have managed to move on?

Tears of a clown

His talent was only eclipsed by the grief that his fans felt when Robin Williams tragically took his own life at the age of 63, on August 11, 2014.

So as the Goggleboxers watched Robin William: Come Inside My Mind on showcase, it's no surprise that they too were affected by the story of how the brilliant comic not only rose to fame but found himself in the grips of severe depression in the later years of his life as he struggled with a diagnosis of the early stages of Parkinson disease.

After getting his start in stand up, Robin blazed his way into pop culture history when a guest appearance on Happy Days in 1978 led to the start of his very first TV series.

"Mork and Mindy was the best show, it changed my childhood," reminisced Tom. That series led to more, hugely successful comedy appearances before the starring role in 1980 film Popeye opened the door for what would be an Oscar-nominated film career.

Good Morning Vietnam, Mrs Doubtfire, Patch Adams, Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting are just a few of the blockbuster films Robin has on his incredible resume. And three years on from his death, the impact that Robin made on the world of comedy and entertainment is still felt as the Goggleboxers fondly reminisced about their favourite movies, characters and catchphrases, "He made so many people happy," said Emmy. And that's the legacy we all hope friends and family of the legendary entertainer remember.

The strength of love

In June 2017, Mark and Julie Wallace received a phone call that changed their lives - their 21-year-old daughter Sara Zalanek had been reported missing in the aftermath of a devastating terror attack in London. Boarding a plane, by the time they touched down the news had come in that Sara had passed away from her injuries.

"You say bye, but you don't think you'll say bye forever," said a touched Jad of how Mark and Julie must have felt upon realising their child would never come home from her European vacation.

Devastated, but vowing not to let their daughter die in vain, the Wallaces began a fundraising mission for Sarz Sanctuary, a charity aiming to give those suffering from traumatic grief in the wake of an unexpected death or injury personalised support. 

Their first stop was Paris, a journey captured by Australian Story. Having planned to meet Sara there at the end of her stint in London, the couple did a fundraising cycle there to honour their daughter's memory.

Wiping away tears and hugging each other, our Goggleboxers were all visibly moved by the story which made us all realise the strength and support that family offers in times of crisis.

And Patrick Delpechitra left us with these wise words. "You can't bow down to fear," he said of why we shouldn't stop living our lives in the face of terror. "Terrorists want you to miss out."

If you, or someone you love, is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts or if you have found this article triggering, head to Lifeline.com.au for 24-hour support.

Gogglebox airs on Lifestyle, Wednesdays at 7.30pm.

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