BBC announces commitment to improving disabled representation

The public broadcaster has announced an array of new programmes and also aims to increase representation in its current shows

Alex Brooker, Getty

The BBC has pledged to make improvements when it comes to the portrayal of disabled people on its channels.

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In addition to announcing an array of new programmes, the public broadcaster claimed that there would also be an “enhanced portrayal” of disability amongst its existing spate of shows.

A“deeply personal” film from BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner, a show from The Last Leg’s Alex Brooker focusing on the true nature of his disability and a series of monologues curated by actor and writer Matt Fraser have also been commissioned.

Jerk, the BBC3 sitcom which made its debut earlier in 2019 and follows the life of a man living with cerebral palsy, will also return for another series, while the corporation has promised better incidental and integrated representation across its full body of shows.

This will include disabled participants on panel shows such as Would I Lie to You? and game shows such as Celebrity Mastermind, while actress and comedian Liz Carr will appear in an episode of Who Do You Think You Are?

Meanwhile travelogue series Pilgrimage will welcome broadcaster and entrepreneur Amar Latif, who is blind, to its line-up for the next series.

In a further change, steps are being made to increase disability representation behind the scenes at the organisation, with the launch of BBC Elevate, a scheme to help give disabled production staff opportunities on some of the broadcaster’s biggest shows, including EastEnders and Strictly Come Dancing.

The BBC’s controller of factual commissioning Alison Kirkham said that the industry “hasn’t always done enough to offer opportunities for disabled people and so has missed out on their talent.”

She added: “We want to set the bar forever higher, for the entire industry, both with off-screen talent and on-screen representation.”

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The BBC has said that it aims to increase the proportion of disabled people among its employees to 12 per cent, up from the latest official figure of 10.4% – which dates form March 2018.