Why it’s time to end TV’s deplorable prejudice against disabled people

I had mixed feelings on being offered the MacTaggart lecture this year. The first was surprise: had anyone ever heard me speak? I once did a Bafta speech that Piers Morgan described on Twitter as the worst in the history of the awards. The second was disbelief that I had been afforded such an honour. The third was a sense of extreme responsibility. I knew it was an opportunity to talk about disability – or the lack of disability – on TV, how television gets key discussions wrong, and how I might dare represent that cause.

The issue of representation has reared its head in the past 10 years in particular. I am not going to use the word diversity because I don’t love the word. Diversity feels celebratory: “Look how diverse we are, aren’t we wonderful.” Representation implies a responsibility. If TV is not representative then it fails. And when it comes to disability, the failure is really stark.

Many of these arguments are dismissed by people as woke-ism and virtue signalling. But the truth is that so much of what we do is governed by empathy, and I truly believe TV has such power in that [...]

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