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BBC to provide more opportunities for disabled people

BBC to provide more opportunities for disabled people
17th December 2019 Ian Streets

The BBC marked the recent International Day of People with Disabilities by promising to include more disabled entertainers and actors on its mainstream panel shows, documentaries and dramas.

The Guardian reported that the national broadcaster was making the commitment in an attempt to improve the representation of people with disabilities on screen.

In 2018 the BBC said it would take more action to help disabled people succeed and progress with its organisation.

It revealed that a review involving staff and the BBC’s Ability network, which supports disabled staff, found that 94.4 per cent of BBC employees had disclosed whether or not they had a disability. In total more than 2,000 of the Corporation’s workforce – representing 10.4 per cent of its workforce and 9.5 per cent of its leaders – disclosed a disability as defined by the Equality Act.

The Guardian reports that, under its new pledge, the BBC is asking programme makers to provide “authentic and distinctive disabled representation on-screen” in programmes that are not specifically about disability such as Who Do You Think You Are?, Eat Well For Less?, and high-profile dramas such as His Dark Materials. There will also be a new disabled actor in Silent Witness.

Disabled people trying to break into the TV industry will be offered the chance to apply for paid training contracts on more than a dozen of the BBC’s leading programmes as part of an initiative called BBC Elevate. Disabled people struggling to gain experience in the competitive media industry will be offered the chance to apply for contracts offering paid placements on BBC shows including EastEnders, Line of Duty, The One Show, Countryfile, Pointless and Call the Midwife.

The BBC also announced a slate of programmes involving disability. Being Frank will feature the broadcaster’s security correspondent Frank Gardner, who will reflect on how his life changed when he was paralysed aged 42 after being shot by terrorists on an assignment in Saudi Arabia.

Alex Brooker, host of the TV show The Last Leg, will present a documentary called Disability and Me where he will “confront the true nature of his disability for the first time and attempt to unpack his disabled identity”.

BBC One has also commissioned a one-off 90-minute drama called But When We Dance about a couple with Parkinson’s Disease, written by the Vicar of Dibley co-writer Paul Mayhew-Archer, who himself has the degenerative condition.

The Guardian reported that following the 2018 review the BBC set the aim of increasing the number of disabled people in its workforce from 8 percent in 2020 to 12 per cent in 2022.

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