Happy New Year!
Wow, it’s 19 January already, where did the first two weeks of 2011 go?!
I thought I should do a brief reflection on 2010 for my first entry of 2011, personally it was a fairly frantic year, very busy with lots of highs and lows. Here’s a quick rundown of the positive media stories that I felt increased positive representation of disability.
Debenhams featuring disability in their store windows, the first high street fashion store to publicise a disabled model and not just the advertising campaigns with me, but also the use of the beautiful & sensual Mannequal designed by Sophie Morgan. (www.mannequal.com)
The use of disabled presenters Natasha Wood and Nikki Fox with Gok Wan on How to Look Good Naked…with a Difference.
Cerrie Burnell’s continued success presenting on CBeeebies.
Steve Gill as the first wheelchair user in Big Brother.
It was a good year for disability portrayal in soaps, David Proud in EastEnders (too brief), Kelly Marie Stewart in Hollyoaks (again too brief), Kitty McGeever in Emmerdale and the fantastic Cherylee Houston in Coronation Street.
I loved the brilliantly tense BBC1 dram,a The Silence, with Genevieve Barr.
The excellent Cap 48 disability awareness campaign which recreated the legendary Eve Herzigova Wonderbra “Hello Boys” advert using the gorgeous Tanja Kiewitz, a Belgian woman who is without her lower left arm.
Dancing on Wheels on BBC3, with Brian Fortuna and Diana Morgan-Hill among others, surprised me and managed not to be the car crash I was expecting, I actually enjoyed watching it; it was great to see people with disabilities being pushed to their physical limits rather than wrapped in cotton wool.
All things considered it was a fairly good year for disability in continuing drama series and factual entertainment but unfortunately there is a long way yet to go; there is still no disabled talent appearing on prime time dramas, panel shows or featuring in mainstream landmark events. Perhaps the Channel 4 search for a disabled presenter will begin to change all this? I’m hoping this year will be exciting and interesting and full of positive change.
However, though there have been steps forward in media representation, there appear to be steps backwards in society. The second very moving and powerful BBC documentary by Rosa Monckton, Tormented Lives, revealed the hideous bullying and hate crimes perpetrated against people with learning difficulties. Whilst I frequently write about positive changes in attitude to disability, it would be wrong to ignore the negative incidents or concerns of other people living with disabilities and experiences different to my own.
We don’t yet know the final outcome of the Government’s DWP consultation on Disability Living Allowance, but I, like millions of other disabled people, am rather concerned by the potential impact of the proposed changes. If you’re interested in reading further on this, I suggest you take a look www.thebrokenofbritain.blogspot.com and www.onemonthbeforeheartbreak.blogspot.com to get an idea of the implications for people living with disabilities. Please take part in the consultation or sign the petition if you are concerned how the changes might affect you or a family member.
In the meantime best wishes for a positive 2011!