A World Without Down's Syndrome?

A World Without Down's Syndrome?


Actor and writer Sally Phillips has a 12-year-old son, Olly, who has Down’s syndrome. Summing up the experience of being his parent she says, “I was expecting tragedy, but I got comedy.”

Like most people with Down’s children, she feels the experience has benefited her family. What baffles her is why the medical profession leads mothers who screen during pregnancy to regard the possibility of Down’s as a catastrophe, a worst-case scenario: “My lived experience bears no relation to that.”

The idea that a Down’s life is not worth living angers Phillips and her quiet, often comic, anger drives a morally sensitive programme. For the health service, what matters is giving parents choice, but for Phillips it comes down to a different kind of choice: “What kind of society do we want to live in, and who do we think should be allowed to live in it?”


Actress Sally Phillips explores the science and thinking behind proposed new pregnancy screening tests, which have the capacity to check for Down's syndrome in unborn children. Sally, whose son Olly has Down's syndrome, investigates the ethical implications of introducing a fresh screening policy to the NHS. Her inquiries lead her to speak with some of the world's foremost genetic disorder specialists, and she includes people living with Down's syndrome every day in the debate.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Sally Phillips
Executive Producer Emma Loach
Producer Clare Richards
Writer Sally Phillips
Writer Clare Richards