BBC casts disabled EastEnders character as it launches talent search


The BBC is to introduce a wheelchair-using actor into its flagship soap opera EastEnders, as part of efforts to raise the profile of disabled performers across the industry.
David Proud will join the cast of EastEnders later this year, playing the part of a snobbish Oxford University student.
It will be the first time a disabled actor has played a regular adult character with a visible impairment in EastEnders.
The announcement follows the arrival in April of Kitty McGeever, the first blind actress to be cast in a British soap, as petty criminal Lizzie Lakely in ITV’s Emmerdale.
The BBC’s director of vision, Jana Bennett, announced Proud’s role as she launched an online directory of disabled actors and performers, and a national search for new disabled talent.
She said: “It’s critical that to connect with all of our audiences, we want to authentically reflect the lives of disabled people on-screen.”
The Disabled Actors and Performers Directory already features more than 120 names, including Mat Fraser, Julie Fernandez, Francesca Martinez, Luke Hamill, Paul Henshall, Kim Tserkezie and Warwick Davis.
Martinez, who has featured in Grange Hill and Extras and also performs stand-up comedy, said: “The industry currently under-represents disability on stage and screen so the directory is a fantastic idea.
“It provides a database of disabled performers and actors and enables producers and directors who want to cast disabled actors to find the talent they need at their fingertips.
“It also encourages the industry to consider casting disabled performers in roles where disability has not been written in.”
Bennett also launched Talent Alert, a national talent search for the best new disabled actors and performers across the UK, focusing on Manchester, London, Glasgow and Cardiff, which started on 8 June.