JUST 4 TV SPECIALS

Are you like me and are sick and tired of wonderfully toned, skinny perfect people on tele ? One of my favourite escapes in the evening after a long, tiring day is to snuggle down with a bag of sweet (always sweet never salty) popcorn and watch TV.

But more often than not I’m distracted by the characters just not being reflective of society. Why oh why are there not more people included who have disabilities? We need to raise awareness of special needs and popular TV is a perfect medium to educate the public that there is life after diagnosis. Given that 18% of UK (Census 2011) have some form of disability shouldn’t there be more representation on our screens?

So I have listed TV programmes that I think do a fabulous job of including actors with disabilities. The script doesn’t make a song and dance about it (unless it is Glee…). People with disabilities or special needs are still just people. And it warms my heart when I see successful actors who have been given a chance.

1      I’m loving Silent Witness where Clarissa played brilliantly by Liz Carr is in a wheelchair and there is NO REFERENCE  to her disability.Why would there be? She is just one of the investigators. Fabulous inclusion.

2      Loved Walt Jr (MJ Mitte) from Breaking Bad who  has cerebral palsy but again no real reference to his disability (just his mum fussing a bit – as we do). But his CP wasn’t a key part of the plot. BB was an excellent series and if you haven’t seen it I really recommend it.

3      Becky (Lauren Potter) from Glee has Down’s syndrome but she’s integral to the script and not just a token nod to inclusion. We all loved Becky and her relationship with Sue (as Sue sees it).

4    o-LISA-HAMMOND-facebook   Donna (Lisa Hammond) is a feisty, argumentative character who runs a market stall. And yes she actually manages this from a wheelchair! Hoorah! Don’t get cross with me, but I actually don’t watch Eastenders but my family tell me that she can scream and shout with the best of them (Get aht my pub..)

And this is where my list stops. Despite trawling the internet, I could not find any more programmes on British TV that have actually cast actors with disabilities.Yes, there are actors who have successfully portrayed people with disabilities such as  Arti (Glee) and Sheldon (Big Bang Theory).  But why should able-bodied actors play a role that is meant for a person with disabilities. It doesn’t make sense.

How utterly appalling.

I will repeat that statistic: 18% of the UK population have a disability. This includes dwarfism (who are typically cast in a role that demands a little person) aspergers, Down’s syndrome, blind, deaf, amputees. Do not tell me out of that whole cohort of people only FOUR – yes four – people want to be an actor for a profession. Have I missed any programmes out?

So what is wrong? Why are producers not casting this huge pool of people? I don’t have the answer.

Please enlighten me.  What do you think? Write in the comments section below.

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