The latest BBC production from BAFTA winning writer Jack Thorne is Then Barbara Met Alan, set to air on BBC Two this month.


Thorne teamed up with actor-turned-writer Genevieve Barr for the BBC Two film, which charts the incredible true story of Barbara Lisicki and Alan Holdsworth, the former couple who founded DAN, the Disabled Peoples Direct Action Network.

The group's non-violent civil disobedience throughout the '90s helped to bring about the Disability Discrimination Act, and this new film stars Ruth Madeley and Arthur Hughes.

On her role in the series, Madeley said: "To play a character like Barbara is really special. It's every actors dream to play such an amazing character with an epic story to tell, and it’s even better that this was a real story of such importance.

"As actors, we don’t always get to tell stories that are so close to home, but this was so relevant and truthful."

Read on for everything you need to know about Then Barbara Met Alan.

Then Barbara Met Alan release date

We don't have long to wait for Then Barabara Met Alan, with the film set to air Monday 21st March at 9pm on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer.

Then Barbara Met Alan cast: Ruth Madeley and Arthur Hughes play the titular couple

Arthur Hughes, Ruth Madeley in Then Barbara Met Alan
Arthur Hughes, Ruth Madeley in Then Barbara Met Alan Dragonfly Film & Television Productions / Samuel Dore

Barbara Lisicki is played in the Then Barbara Met Alan cast by Ruth Madeley, best known for her roles in Years and Years and Cold Feet, while she has also had roles in Outnumbered, Save Me Too and Brexit: The Uncivil War.

Meanwhile Alan Holdsworth is played by Arthur Hughes, known for his role in The Innocents, as well as in Stephen Graham and Jodie Comer drama Help.

Phillipa Cole (Last Train to Christmas) plays Sue, while other roles are filled by Reece Pantry, Fergus Rattigan, Nadeem Islam and Shreya M Patel. Liz Carr (Silent Witness, The Witcher) and Mat Fraser, both original members of DAN, appear as themselves.

The film is written by Jack Thorne and Genevieve Barr, and directed by Bruce Goodison (Anne, Murdered By My Father) and Amit Sharma (CripTales). It also features music by Chaz Jankel from The Blockheads and the real Alan Holdsworth.

Is Then Barbara Met Alan a true story?

It sure is. Then Barbara Met Alan recounts the real life activism of comedian Barbara Lisicki and singer songwriter Alan Holdsworth, who met in the early '90s when many deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people in Britain faced huge barriers in everyday life.

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The pair teamed up to take down Telethon, a TV charity event they believed showed disabled people in a negative light. They used the slogan 'Piss On Pity' for the famous "Block Telethon" protests.

The partners went on to form DAN, the Disabled Peoples Direct Action Network, a group using non-violent civil disobedience to highlight issues faced by people with disabilities. They went on tour with their new baby to picket inaccessible cinemas, restaurants and train stations that denied access to disabled people. Their tactics included handcuffing themselves to public transport.

They later embarked on a plan to bring Westminster to a standstill, to ensure disabled people were granted equal rights in law. Their efforts helped to create the Disability Discrimination Act.

Then Barbara Met Alan Trailer

You can watch the trailer for Then Barbara Met Alan below.

Then Barbara Met Alan airs on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer on 21st March 2022. Check out our Drama hub for more news, interviews and features or find something to watch with our TV Guide.


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