Tag Archives: BBC

Why BBC Class Act is an exciting step forward for disabled actors

BBC Class Act is a nationwide development programme which aims to support and raise the profile of disabled actors. Last week, we were lucky enough to attend the launch party and talk to some of the talented people involved.

On Monday, we shared a blog about Silent Witness and how amazing it is to see better representation of disability on screens, as well as a variety of exciting roles for disabled actors. We want to see more of this, which is why we’re fully behind the new BBC Class Act programme.

Last August, the BBC launched a nationwide search for talented disabled actors. From over 350 audition tapes, 32 people were were selected to attend an intensive three day skills workshop led by BBC directors. The actors were given lessons in everything from audition and camera techniques to help with their show reels, with the aim of improving their chances of being cast in more roles. At the launch, Piers Wenger from the BBC said:

“I hope the talent you see encourages you to consider disabled talent for a manner of roles. It’s crucial that all of us in the industry work collectively to nurture and include disabled actors so that we can see increased representation on our screens.”

Carly Jones, one of the talented actors who took part, tells us why this is so important to her

Carly sat on the sofa with a union jack pillow

Before this, I’d accepted that acting wasn’t my destiny

Before I became an Autism advocate, I was an actor. Autistic people, like me, have what many professionals call “obsessions” and what the kindest professionals call “special interests”.  Mine was definitely acting.

Aged four, I would be gently placed behind the sofa every time I stood in front of my parents’ TV, wanting to be the performer. As soon as I could read, Teletext became my very first auto cue!

This led to being Mary in the school nativity, attending Ravenscourt Theatre school as a teen and eventually, becoming a frustrated actress in my 20s, snatching occasional talking parts in a sea of supporting roles.

Chasing this dream wasn’t compatible with a busy life as a divorced mother of three daughters, two of whom are also Autistic.  So I decided to put my “special interest” into a box.

It was hard. I always felt more comfortable on stage than I did in everyday situations because I knew what I was meant to say and was prepared for the reply. But I accepted that acting wasn’t my destiny and moved on.

Carly looking to the side, against a dark background
Carly had put aside her dream of acting, until she took part in BBC Class Act

When I saw the BBC Class Act advert, my instant thought was “Ah I wish this had been around when I was younger” and I got on with my routine, but kind friends kept nudging me and eventually I thought “Blow it, I’ll audition!”

When I had a quiet hour at home alone, I taped my audition and nervously posted it “unlisted” on my YouTube channel. I planned to remove it later and never think about it again, but by some twist of fate, I was chosen!

Disabled actress Carly wearing sunglasses and a top that says autistic girl power

The course felt like a celebration of diversity

On the first day, I was pleasantly surprised by how different we all were. There were actors with all sorts of different impairments. Also a large percentage of BBC staff and organisers were disabled – something which I naively didn’t expect.

We had three action packed days. We auditioned, did camera work, filmed our scenes and showcased our work to our directors. Surprisingly it was not half as terrifying as I expected! The subconscious worry that this was just a box ticking exercise was quashed – this event really showcased a genuine desire for change and a celebration of diversity.

Truly it was easy to forget that we were a group of ‘disabled actors’. The actors there were extremely talented and it was clear that this initiative was set up to support talented actors, who also happen to be disabled. Rather than “let’s get some disabled people and help them act”.

I am so grateful for the three days of total support, encouragement and confidence the BBC gave me. I’m excited to see where this progresses, not only for my own personal goals, but for disability representation in the media as a whole! And maybe, just maybe, my Autistic “special interest” happens to also be a talent.

If you’re a disabled actor and you’d like to share your experiences of working, you can get in touch with the stories team.

My role on Holby City helps change attitudes about autism – Jules

30 under 30 logo

This story is part of 30 Under 30.

 

Jules is an actor and a regular on Holby City. He also happens to have Asperger syndrome, which is a form of autism.

As part of 30 Under 30, we chatted to him about acting, attitudes and how Access All Areas helped him break into the industry.

My love of acting came from watching a lot of Steve Martin movies which made me feel really good. I also loved going to the theatre and the cinema. I watched lots of films and always thought I’d like to do something like that. Acting made me feel good about myself. I think that really inspired me.

I did a course through Access All Areas, who also now act as my agent. I made some good friends during that time and it was a really good experience because it helped my acting. I improved so much. It meant I could get to the next level.

Landing a role on Holby City

I got an audition thanks to Access All Areas who also now act as my agent. I was fabulous (as always!) and I passed the audition with flying colours. It was very challenging at the beginning because I was walking into something completely new. As the months went on I became comfortable and settled in well and I actually really like it now. I think I’ve come a long way in the last year. I always jump out of bed with enthusiasm, even though I’m leaving at half 6 in the morning.

I play Jason Haynes. He has a different type of Asperger’s to myself. I think he’s a lot geekier than I am. He’s a very nice man but he lacks confidence. I feel like I’m playing a completely different person. That’s why it’s interesting. It’s really fun on set with the cast and crew. It’s a long day but it’s good. I always feel very proud of myself at the end of the day. I feel like I’ve tried my best and done a good job. I like that lots of parents with autistic children have enjoyed it. It’s a great thing that I’ve been able to do.

Jules, a young disabled man, plays a character smiling and lying in a hospital bed on Holby City

I hope attitudes in the industry get better

There was a point where I was very frustrated with the industry because I was seeing all these films that had a character with autism and it was so often played by a neuro-typical person. In Rain Man and Black Balloon, for example, the actors in those two films don’t have the condition. It’s frustrating that directors and producers don’t do enough research because there are people out there with the conditions that can play these parts.

It’s important for disabled actors to play disabled characters, and I think they can play characters who don’t have a condition too. I want the industry to be a little bit more understanding and to not ignore autistic talent like it has done for far too long. I would say it’s improving now but it could get a lot better.

I think it’s really good that shows like Holby City are starting to look into diversity more. When I first started I saw one negative comment on Facebook, someone who followed the show who didn’t understand Asperger’s. But everyone else has been really supportive.

It’s great to have role models

Steve Martin, John Travolta and Morgan Freeman are some of my favourite actors, and Kevin Spacey, Tim Robbins, Jeff Bridges – I’ve got lots. Jim Carrey as well. All these people make me so excited to be an actor and it’s really great to have these role models because I happen to think that actors and comedians are the best people in the world.

I hope that I’m seen as a role model. I hope that I’m encouraging people with other conditions or people who are on the spectrum and have autism or mild learning difficulties. If they watch me on Holby City I hope I’m showing them that it can happen for them and they shouldn’t lose faith and hope. I’m sure they can do it if they put their mind to it.

I think that I’ve done a good job at making people more aware of autism and making it relevant in the acting world. I’m showing that if people with autism want to do this kind of work they can, and it’s not impossible.

My advice for other young disabled actors

Keep a positive frame of mind and try your best. Of course there will be hard times but you’ll get through it. Try your very best to get where you want to go. Sometimes it doesn’t work out the way you want but maybe it just takes time.

Holby City has been the highlight of my career. It’s a very rewarding job and I’m hoping that it will lead to other work in the future. It’s been my first big break really. I’d love to do movies here and in America, more TV and theatre. I’d like to do a whole variety of things.

Jules is sharing his story as part of 30 Under 30. We are releasing one story a day throughout June from disabled people under 30 who are doing extraordinary things. Keep up to date with all of our new stories on our 30 under 30 page.

‘I rely on my PA – they are my arms and my legs’

This is a guest post from Scope trustee Rupy Kaur, who tells us about  appearing in the BBC3 documentary Wanted: A Very Personal Assistant. 

When I applied to be on BBC 3’s Defying the Label series, I wasn’t looking to be the next top model or new presenter; I wanted to raise the issue of how important it is to be a personal assistant (PA).

The two-part documentary, Wanted: A Very Personal Assistant, airs on BBC3 at 9 pm tonight and follows several disabled people, including me, looking for a new PA.

For two weeks the film crew followed me trying out a new PA and at the end of the trial period I had to decide if she was hired or fired… you’ll have to watch the programme to find out what happened!

What does a PA do?

There are many misconceptions, about the role of a PA. I get the feeling people think the job will mean they can have an easy life – just wiping someone’s bum… they couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’m 27 years old and have cerebral palsy. All my limbs are affected and I use a wheelchair. I can’t do much of my personal care myself, so I need help with getting up and getting dressed.

I rely on my PA to help me with everything – they are my arms and my legs. I have a team of people that work around the clock to give me care seven days a week.

I live at home with my family but if I need to stay somewhere overnight, my PA will too. They’re there to help me do what I can’t do myself.

As well as helping with day-to-day stuff like arranging doctors’ appointments, I need my PA to help me with admin, emails and assist me at Uni, where I’m studying for a Masters in Health Psychology. They also need to be aware of the work that I do to support Scope as a Trustee.

‘I’ve had lots of bad carers in my time’

I’ve been receiving care since I was 15 years old.

Back then we called PAs carers. I’ve had lots of bad carers in my time. Especially in the early days… In fact I would go as far as to say some of the people were atrocious. They used to waltz in whenever they felt like it, mostly in pairs which often made me feel left out. They would regularly ignore me and my needs, spending their time catching up on the antics from their weekend – which was very educational for a 15 year old!

Some smelt of stale alcohol and were partial to paying themselves over the odds for my care. They often exaggerated the amounts on the cheques they needed to write on my behalf. I can’t write cheques but there was no safeguarding me from this.

At the time, I was young and not confident to challenge them. I was just happy that they were there to help me go to the toilet and get from A to B – I didn’t know what my expectations should be.

I guess all these bad experiences have made me clued up on what to look out for now. I’m no Alan Sugar but I’m very particular about who I recruit and take the process of looking for a PA very seriously – I mean wouldn’t you?

What I’m looking for in a PA

Ideally I’m looking for someone who is open minded, has initiative, who is friendly and ultimately someone I can trust.

I could train anyone to use a hoist or to cook but finding someone who you can connect with is a lot more difficult.

Your relationship with your PA is very intricate. You’re someone’s boss – but you’re relying on them for intimate care. So finding the right carer means absolutely everything.

To make things easier for any new PA I hire, I have produced a 15 page handbook for them to read – not because I’m fussy but because I have complex needs that would take months of training for me to explain everything to them. My PA’s have kindly compiled notes to help people understand my impairments and my needs.

Although I really enjoyed my time with the film crew and sharing my experience I truly hope that it also goes some way to show how important the role of a PA is.

Find out more about Wanted: A Very Personal Assistant.

London Marathon proposal…did she say yes?

Guest blog by Pally Chahal. The 2015 London Marathon will be a day 132 Scope runners will look back on for years to come – but Pally’s memory will be even more special.

On Sunday 26th April 2015 I embarked on my fifth London Marathon. However, unlike my previous accomplishments, this marathon was going to be very unique, special and one I will always look back on with fond memories. This marathon I was going to go down on one knee and propose to the love of my life, Pam, in front of thousands of runners and spectators cheering us on.

Training time

I was able to build up to 20.52 miles by late February, which was quite impressive considering I was plagued with calf injures and general life tends to overrule training. My commitment to running and at the same time my family fish and chip shop business is quite high, so I never really got a full day of recovery from long distance runs. However, this training would not be like my previous regimes – this time I was training with an engagement ring in a box in my pocket. Many times it hampered my training due to constant rubbing on my thigh.

Final preparations

Around late March I was running around 45 to 55 miles per week and was quite happy with how the box was sitting in my pocket and its constant bashing against my thigh. All that was needed now was some guidance from Scope, for whom I have raised nearly £8,000 over four London marathons. They are a great bunch of people who are always available to give advice and support for fundraising ideas and will always stay in touch with your marathon training. The last four marathons have always been that little bit easier at the 14.5, 18.5 and 24 mile marks where you can rely on the Scope volunteers to cheer you on. Once I had revealed my idea to the team they did everything to help me make sure I succeeded in meeting up with Pam and my family members to carry out the proposal. They provided me with grandstand passes which is yards away from the finishing line, with Buckingham Palace providing the perfect backdrop to propose to Pam.

The marathon

The conditions were perfect – overcast with a slight drizzle of rain, all of which made for a great day of running and hopefully another personal best – sub three hours 30 minutes was on the cards. One thing I didn’t account for in my training was carrying my mobile phone just to make sure I could stay in touch with Pam at the grandstand. It was going to be interesting to see how the phone sat in my other pocket but I remained positive and channelled my thoughts into proposing and seeing the love of my life yards away from the finishing line. As the race progressed I was really comfortable – my pace and breathing were awesome. Around half way I managed to ring a friend to get some information on my predicted time based on my half marathon completion and it was three hours 13 minutes. During this time I was totally ecstatic and managed to ring Pam to find out she was with family by the grandstand – at this point I could barely contain my excitement and gave a surging roar to the crowd of supporters.

London Marathon CheeringThis seemed like plain sailing; surely it couldn’t be that easy with only eight miles to go. I could visualise myself proposing to Pam and topping it off with a personal best at the finishing line. Little did I know running off too fast during the first half of the marathon would come back to haunt me. I slowly started feeling pain under my foot, a pain I have been overcoming during training. For up to 21 miles I managed to march through the pain. Eventually it became more excruciating and unbearable, causing me to stop and attend to my foot. As the miles remaining decreased so did my energy to fight against the pain. The personal best became a distant memory and I channelled my thoughts into proposing to Pam. The Scope team at the 24.5 mile mark really spurred me on to finish strong. As I approached the last 385 yards they never seemed more beautiful – the constant sound of cheering, clapping and the whole atmosphere made me, and I’m sure the rest of runners, feel like celebrities as we approached the finishing line. However, my job was not finished yet and this young lady who always surprised me was now going to have the surprise of her life.

The proposal

On the right hand side of The Mall, facing the finishing line, I managed to see my brother who pointed out where Pam was standing and I slowly staggered towards her as she cheered my name. I can remember fiddling with my pocket zip and came over to Pam to kiss her whilst managing to unzip the pocket. I slowly stepped away from Pam and somehow plucked up the courage to get on one knee after a brutal 26.2 miles, holding on to a pole for support and said those precious words ‘will you marry me?’. The look on Pam’s face clearly showed she was absolutely shocked and the supporters around her started cheering. Knowing the pain I was in Pam didn’t hesitate and quickly said yes. At this moment I was the happiest man alive – all the pain I went through was well worth it. I managed to pick myself up and come across to Pam for a well-deserved celebration kiss. I collected myself together and gave another roar, clenching my fists in the air and marching to the finishing line as a very happy man.

Engaged life Coverage of the proposal on facebook

I finished in three hours, 43 minutes and 17 seconds; not my best time but very insignificant in terms of what I will remember from this year’s London Marathon. We managed to meet up with everyone at the post-race reception which Scope hold for all their runners and families. Here all the runners got a complimentary professional massage for their efforts and refreshments. The Scope team provided us with glasses of champagne to celebrate our engagement.

When I went to work the next day, customers started to congratulate me on the wedding proposal – they’d seen the video which went viral on Facebook. It was also covered by ITV news and the Daily Mail. I could not have imagined this sort of response at all and to be honest it was all so surreal. I would just like to say a big thank you firstly to the Scope Team for making this special event turn into a very special day for Pam and me, a day we will always cherish. Secondly a big thank you to all my customers, family and friends from Eltham, New Eltham, Sidcup and far out who have always donated generously for a great course and continue to do so. And a special thanks to Pam for making my dreams come true and being my true angel.

Fancy being one of our London Marathon runners next year? Find out more. 

Representing disability throughout the BBC

The BBC is inviting disabled people with digital skills to a ‘Get In’ Day to hear about career opportunities. The event is at New Broadcasting House on Thursday 28 August 2014.

Ahead of the day Toby Mildon, from BBC Future Media – the team responsible for designing, developing and running digital services like iPlayer, websites and Red Button – talks about life at the BBC. He’s also a TV Disability Activator, working to make sure disability is represented within the business and on TV.

What do you do for the BBC?

I manage ‘user experience’ and design projects for news, the website or apps, and help commission digital agencies to do work for us. I also look after our Diversity Action Plan, which is an initiative to encourage more disabled people to join the BBC in both technological areas, and across the business. I advise our Director of TV on how disability is portrayed on our screens.

Every day is different – I might be brainstorming a project plan, writing a report for our leadership team detailing how a project is going, facilitating a creative workshop, drafting a contract, arranging pitches or meeting a head of commissioning to discuss disability stories and presenters; the list goes on.

What is the secret of your success?

I think it’s important to have three things in life: a back bone (and mine is reinforced from a spinal fusion!), a wish bone and a funny bone. If you have determination, dreams and a sense of humour, you’ll go far. I’ve managed to ‘tune into’ and be passionate about jobs that inspire me, which in turn motivates me. I believe in the BBC’s mission to inform, educate and entertain the world, and as long as I’m making a difference, I’ll enjoy my work. I’ve had several mentors and coaches to help me accelerate my career, including one through a Creative Diversity Network mentoring scheme.

What do you like about the BBC and working for it?

I believe in our mission, and I am proud of the high quality and world-class services and content that we produce. I work with really talented people who continue to inspire me. I’m also autonomous in my work – my line manager doesn’t micro-manage me, and I relish this freedom. For example, I’m able to write this article on the train so I can leave the office early, which helps with my life/work balance, and therefore my health.

I like that there’s quite a few disabled people in the office, so I’m not the ‘odd one out’. I have 24/7 care and my PA accompanies me to work to help with everything from feeding and going to the toilet, to moving around the office and scanning documents. The staff working at the Access Unit met me on my first day to assess me for what reasonable adjustments I needed, and later when my arms weakened, they made further adjustments, such as putting Dragon Dictate on my laptop.

What do you think are the main false perceptions around disability and employment?

I believe there are three top false perceptions about disabled people: That they are too costly to hire i.e. adjustments needed and sick leave etc; They don’t have the same stamina as non-disabled folk; They are somehow less intelligent.

All three are complete rubbish, and have been disproven by academics and government research time and time again! Disabled people need the confidence to see themselves as resilient and resourceful individuals, which is crucial for work. It’ll be a slow change because it’s about altering staunch attitudes. We need a combination of direct action, policy lobbying and disabled role models spreading positive vibes to make a difference.

Finally, what advice would you give to individuals with disabilities wishing to work at the BBC or in media?

If you’re the kind of person who is happy to take a leap of faith, just apply now through BBC Careers. If you’re fresh out of university, or have little work experience, check out our twice yearly extend internships for disabled people. If you need more input then seek careers help from a professional coach or mentor. A lot of it is about making connections and networking, so start talking to people and getting yourself known, online or in person. It’s so easy today to make connections through websites such as Meetup, LinkedIn or Twitter – you could even put a tweet out to try and organise work shadowing or work experience.

If you would like to attend, please RSVP to toby.mildon@bbc.co.uk by attaching a copy of your CV. Spaces are very limited and by invitation only. The BBC will provide Reasonable Adjustments for anyone selected to attend.

A version of this blog first appeared on Disability Horizons.

Care, employment and families – big week for disability

It may be the last week before Christmas, but politicians are making time between mince pies and mulled wine to look at a couple of important disability issues.

Today MPs have their first opportunity to debate the Government’s plans for reforming local care – including capping care costs for elderly and an end the postcode lottery in care.

Councils say the crisis in social care sits behind big health issues such as pressure on A&E and GPs – if older and disabled people don’t get preventative, community care, they risk becoming isolated and slipping into crisis.

The Care and Support Alliance – representing 75 charities – is today saying that the bill is a real achievement but risks being undermined by a funding black hole which has forced councils to restrict who gets support.

The CSA has published new research from the LSE that reveals that if we had the 2008 care system today another half a million disabled and older people would get preventative, community support.

Sitting behind this is massive, historic under-funding. Government spending on social care would have had to rise by an additional £1.6 billion just to keep pace with demographic pressures. Instead councils have had to reduce their budgets by £2.6bn in the last three years alone, according to social services directors.

The story is on Sky News and in the Telegraph, the Guardian and the Times.

Meanwhile Scope has been asking disabled people to talk about why social care is important to them and encouraging the public to show that it thinks the Government needs to act on care.

Then on Tuesday the Government is going to be talking about getting more disabled people into work.  This is a huge issue. And it’s great that the Government is committed to tackling it. BBC’s In Business programme last week, which previewed some of the announcement, is worth a listen.

We’ll also be looking out for news on Children and Families Bill tomorrow.

Families have told us that they really struggle to the support they need in their local area. This bill will mean that councils will have to publish a ‘Local Offer’ of services available in the local area. Local agencies like education and the health services will have to work together better to plan and commission services for disabled children.

These are positive moves but we have been pushing for stronger guarantees that families with disabled children and young people will be able to hold local agencies to account for the delivery and quality of services set out in the Local Offer. Without this, families will be left with the same battles they encounter now in trying to get support. We’ll be keeping a close on the crucial final stages of the bill.

A year after the Paralympics, are disabled people still invisible?

BBC News have created a short video asking if attitudes towards disabled people have changed since the Paralympics:

“In London in the summer of 2012, disabled people were suddenly in the spotlight during the Paralympics. But a year on, have they gone back to being invisible?”

Watch the video on the BBC News website

The video features comedian Francesca Martinez, we spoke to Francesca last year about attitudes towards disabled people and how she uses comedy as a platform for change:

Scope’s Radio 4 Appeal: Behind the scenes

If the words Rod, Hull and Jelly mean something to you then read on. If not, first hunt out some clips of Fist of Fun on YouTube. Richard Herring and Stewart Lee’s first TV sketch show back in the mid-90s was anarchic, surreal, comedy genius. So it was tough to stay cool when I found myself opposite Richard Herring in a Turkish cafe a couple of weeks ago, particularly as he was casting his eye over a script I’d written for him. Luckily I had Scope’s celebrity manager sitting next to me; it’s his job to remain calm in the face of legend.

The script was for a two-and-a-half minute slot on Radio 4 to encourage people to donate to Scope. It was tough. I had to squeeze into just 420 words our big, big vision (a world where every disabled person has the same opportunities as everyone else) and illustrate it with a moving story about parents that had just discovered their child is disabled.

And as if that wasn’t enough, in typical Scope fashion, we decided that we’d also throw in some humour, and something else I can’t tell you about. All in just two-and-a-half minutes.

There was every chance that Richard Herring, an accomplished writer, would hate it. And then probably refer to it in stand-up sketches for evermore. He took a long look at the script, and asked to change just one word.

We then headed to Broadcasting House, the stately West End home of Radio 4, to record the appeal. Sally, the producer, guided us into a small studio. The soundproofed room was split in two. One side was a small table mounted with a microphone. Richard Herring sat down there. On the other side of the half-glass partition was a mixing desk behind which Sally positioned herself next to the engineer. He had an enormous cup of tea, which suggested we might be here some time.

In fact, Richard Herring, writer, comedian, columnist, is also a highly accomplished broadcaster (as anyone that listened to his brilliant Objective series will know… Radio 4: please commission some more). We did a practice take, then a real one and then another. And that was all it took. Richard nailed it. Listen out for his skilful handling of the tongue twister: “finally a third physio” and a wonderful Tony Blackburn impression (yes… and again I can’t say any more).

After the recording Richard did a couple of interviews. We’ll be sticking up the footage on the appeal page soon. Then Sally demonstrated her experience of hunting out pockets of light in the dim studio, as we took a couple of photos. Sadly we didn’t grab one of her balanced precariously on a wheelie chair, which I was trying to hold still as she tried an aerial shot of Richard Herring.

The appeal will be broadcast at 7.55am and 9.26pm on Sunday 1 April and at 3.27pm on Thursday 5 April. Find out more at www.scope.org.uk/richardherring

 

Film with Beaumont College students seen by Queen

Beaumont IT Technologist Zak Sly reports on an exciting development:

Over the past six months a group of students from Beaumont College, Lancasterhave been working with the BBC R&D (Research and Development) on a research partnership to make television more accessible for disabled people.

As part of the partnership some of the students got to opportunity to visit MediaCity in Salford, the BBCs new centre in the North. The students had a great day and thought this couldn’t be topped… Well…

On Friday 9 March three students Rebecca Hall, Jodie Turner and Hannah Dilworth were asked if they could have one final session with the BBC to do some filming. They were told that the short show reel will be shown to a VIP at MediaCity on 23 March. The VIP’s identity was secret at the time of the filming taking place.

The three students were filmed using a switch and a head mouse.

For those of you interested in the technical details – the switches were used to control a grid set from ‘The Grid 2’ on a normal laptop, which was connected to another computer (via a router) running a modified version of Mythbuntu (an open source Linux operating system with a media centre application built in). The operating system has been adapted to implement BBC R&D’s Universal Control API, and the Universal Control Mythbuntu files can be downloaded from GitHub.

The switch and head mouse allow the person using them to control a communication aid, which as well as giving them a ‘voice’  means they can do lots of everyday activities from talking to their families to controlling their environment (lights, heating, TV) and ordering a take-a-way or booking tickets to the cinema.

A couple of days later an email came from the BBC  to let us know that VIPs due to watch the show reel were Her Majesty The Queen, while Lord Patten (Chairman of the BBC Trust) and Mark Thompson (Director-General of the BBC) had seen it at a previous screening. Read more about the opening of the BBC’sMedia City and the Queen’s Jubilee Tour.

The three students were all really excited about this! Rebecca Hall said “When I got the email off Zak about the Queen I was really excited.” A staff member who was with her at the time said that when Rebecca read the email she screamed with excitement! Jodie Turner said she was very excited and Hannah Dilworth agreed.

Racing With The Hamiltons: Nic In The Driving Seat

The BBC’s new disability season starts on Tuesday 6 March at 10.35pm withRacing With The Hamiltons: Nic In The Driving Seat.

Becoming a racing car driver isn’t easy for anyone, especially when you have cerebral palsy and your older brother is the world’s youngest F1 winner. In a sweeping one-hour documentary that captures the highs and lows of starting out on the racetrack, Nic hits the competitive Clio Cup to see if he has what it takes to make it as a driver. With his family on the track and brother Lewis on hand for advice, Nic is determined to prove that he can go beyond being disabled to kickstart a career as a driver. But his cerebral palsy and lack of driving experience means that he’s facing tough odds just to finish each race in one piece, let alone do well enough to continue beyond just the one tour. When a high-speed accident threatens to end his career before it’s really begun, it takes every ounce of Nic’s courage to get back in the driving seat. A moving documentary that looks at how one ordinary young man pushes beyond being disabled to take on an extraordinary challenge.

Young disabled people from our Trendsetters project met Nic Hamilton during the making of this documentary, and here’s what happened:

BBC documentary

Increasing numbers of disabled young people have been looking up to Nic Hamilton as a role model, and they were keen to explore this in the programme. They asked Scope if we could arrange for Nic to meet some young disabled people and to film this for the documentary. We thought the Trendsetters would be an ideal group of people to meet Nic so of course we said yes!

It was very short notice but we managed to get Bradley and Kayne to Scope’s head office to meet Nic, and be filmed interviewing him. Jamie Robertson from the Scope campaigns team came along too. Bradley, Kayne and Jamie had some interesting questions for Nic and asked him about his racing career, his adapted car, his experiences of growing up, school and bullying, and his relationship with his brother Lewis Hamilton, the Formula 1 racing driver. We found out that Nic and Lewis play a competitive car racing computer game when they are apart, and that both of them want to win!

Trendsetters project

Nic asked Bradley and Kayne about the Trendsetters project, and they talked about living with cerebral palsy and the attitudes of other people towards them. Nic told the boys that being different isn’t a bad thing, and explained how he deals with any challenges he faces with a positive attitude.

“A wicked day”

The filming took nearly two hours, and we are hoping that some of the footage will get used in the documentary… so look out for Bradley, Kayne and Jamie, they could be famous! Everyone enjoyed the experience, Bradley’s Mum and Kayne’s Dad got to meet Nic and chat to him over lunch and as Kayne’s Dad said afterwards, “What a wicked day!”

Kayne told us that he went go-karting a few months ago, but crashed his go-kart and didn’t want to go again. But after talking to Nic he felt inspired to go back to go-karting and he was getting ready to search the web for places where he could go and get involved.

Thanks to our London Trendsetters and their families for joining us at such short notice, and for proving to be such good interviewers.

Let’s hope we get lots more opportunities like this!