The BBC is to mark the 25th anniversary of the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) next month with a series of dramas, documentaries, news packages and discussions.
Among the month-long season will be a series of six 15-minute dramatic monologues, written, directed and performed by disabled people.
The CripTales series – curated by actor and writer Mat Fraser – will feature performances by Fraser, Jackie Hagan (in her television acting debut), Robert Softley Gale, Liz Carr, Carly Houston and Ruth Madeley.
Although fictional, the monologues are based on research and disabled people’s lived experience from the last 50 years, and will be shown next week on BBC Four (Monday, Wednesday and Thursday).
Radio 4 will feature Bartholomew Abominations, a reworking of Ben Johnson’s satire Bartholomew Fair, on 7 November, and (on Tuesday 10 November) Connections, a series of three short dramas, both involving the disabled-led Graeae Theatre.
BBC Four will also show The Disability Paradox, by disabled film-maker Chris Lynch, which explores research showing that many disabled people “report a good or excellent quality of life, despite the perception of non-disabled people that their lives must be difficult and bleak”.
Lynch examines how quality of life relates to body image, health and social norms.
There is no confirmed transmission date for The Disability Paradox, but it is due to be shown in November.
On Thursday 19 November, a series of discussions about the representation and portrayal of disability on and off-screen will be hosted on LinkedIn Live.
Participants will include US disability rights activist Judy Heumann, a former special advisor to President Obama’s State Department; Mat Fraser; Nikki Fox, BBC News’s disability correspondent; Cherylee Houston and Melissa Johns, founders of the Disabled Artists Networking Community; disabled journalist, actor and presenter Adam Pearson; campaigner and Paralympian Anne Wafula Strike; and disabled presenter Sophie Morgan.
On 24 November, on Radio Four, Lee Ridley – otherwise known as Lost Voice Guy – will host The Thirteen Million Club, a showcase of disabled comedians, featuring Jamie MacDonald, Tanyalee Davis, Don Biswas and Jess Thom.
Radio Three will feature a series of Afternoon Concert, from 9 to 13 November, which will celebrate disabled performers including Denise Leigh, Sandra Gayer and Victoria Oruwari, and disabled composers including Beethoven, Delius, Holst, Faure, Rodrigo, Ravel and Malcolm Arnold.
Nikki Fox will present packages reflecting on the DDA anniversary across the BBC’s news channels – the act was passed on 8 November 1995 – while there will be articles on the BBC’s website, and a BBC Radio 5 Live phone-in.
The day after the anniversary, BBC News will release the results of a YouGov survey, which examines how disabled people feel they fit into society.
Fox said: “The 25th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act is an important moment to take stock and I’ll be providing analysis and feedback across the BBC’s news bulletins, exploring the significance of the act and its impact on the lives of disabled people now.
“Alongside my reports, I’m looking forward to disabled people sharing their stories and experiences across BBC networks this month in a range of documentaries, drama performances and digital content – it’s so important to hear such a rich variety of disabled voices.”
Charlotte Moore, BBC’s chief content officer, said: “The BBC has boosted its commitment to representing disabled people on and off screen and we are using the 25th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act as an opportunity to put disabled talent front and centre this November.”
The BBC has also commissioned disability-related programmes to be aired in 2021
Moore said: “Our content now and into 2021 will be exploring the significance and impact of the act as well as showcasing the creativity of disabled actors, presenters, producers, directors and writers.
“I hope that enabling disabled people to tell their often unexpected and surprising stories will challenge stereotypes and make us all think about the world we want to live in.”
Picture: Carly Houston in CripTales
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