BBC season tackles disability in the 21st century

This season is about ordinary disabled people dealing with the same everyday challenges that everyone faces – leaving home, choosing a career, raising a family."Maxine Watson, Executive Producer
Date: 23.02.2012     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.16
Beyond Disability is a new BBC One / Radio 5 live documentary season that captures the compelling stories of disabled people and their families as they take on everyday life and new challenges.

Tackling the reality of what it means to be disabled in the 21st century, Beyond Disability recounts the very personal experiences of individuals and families as they enter new phases of their lives.

Maxine Watson, Executive Producer, says: “BBC One has always been committed to exploring the lives of people who are disabled and this season is about ordinary disabled people dealing with the same everyday challenges that everyone faces – leaving home, choosing a career, raising a family. BBC One brings together a personal collection of stories about what it means to live a life not just defined by physical or mental limitations.”

BBC One follows Nic Hamilton (born with cerebral palsy) in his first season as a racing driver, while Rosa Monckton speaks to parents facing the challenge of allowing their children with learning disabilities to live independent lives.

Rita Simons wants to make the best decision for her profoundly deaf five-year-old daughter, while comedian Laurence Clark and his wife make the decision to have a second child, despite both having cerebral palsy. They lay bare the joys and hurdles of disabled parenting.

On BBC Radio 5 live, Nikki Fox challenges what it really means to be disabled in the UK in the 21st century with Adventures Of A Blue Badger on 29 March. On its news programmes that day Radio 5 live will give the audience a chance to air their views on the issues it raises.

Jonathan Wall, Deputy Controller, BBC Radio 5 live, says: “This is a powerful documentary that looks at the day-to-day challenges of people with disabilities in the UK. In Nikki Fox I think we’ve found a brilliant and characterful voice to present this thoughtful and entertaining programme.”

Beyond Disability starts on BBC One in March and includes repeats of Stormchaser: The Butterfly And The Tornado on BBC Three and You’re Having A Laugh on BBC Two.

Racing With The Hamiltons: Nic In The Driving Seat

10.35pm, BBC One, Tuesday 6 March

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.

The documentary (1x50) was commissioned by Danny Cohen, Controller, BBC One and Charlotte Moore, Commissioning Editor for Documentaries and BBC Three. The commissioning executive at the BBC is Maxine Watson and Sunil Patel is executive producing for Whisper Films.

Beyond Disability: The Adventures Of A Blue Badger

10pm, BBC Radio 5 Live, Thursday 29 March

Nikki Fox has big hair, an air of mischief, and an unhealthy love of Nik Kershaw. She also gets brilliant seats at concerts and very convenient parking spaces at the supermarket. Born with Muscular Dystrophy, Nikki gets around in a mobility scooter, and she reckons life is pretty flippin’ good as a disabled person (or 'Blue Badger') in the UK.

In this BBC Radio 5 Live documentary, Nikki is out to discover whether her positive outlook on life is justified and shared by her fellow Badgers. In the year of the biggest celebration of disability sport, the Paralympics, is the UK as good at dealing with disability as it thinks it is? Does disability bring out the kindness in the public or do they secretly avoid having to help? Is access and the transport network improving? And, most importantly, will Nikki get to sing her David Milliband song on national radio?

Nikki's adventures take her from her friends and family, to being grilled by complete strangers (including a scary class of eight-year-olds), as well as talking to the likes of Tanni Grey Thompson, David Blunkett, CBeebies’ Cerrie Burnell and Disability Minister, Maria Miller.

The documentary was commissioned by Jonathan Wall, Deputy Controller of BBC Radio 5 live and was produced by Fiona Cotterill for Alfi Media Ltd.

Letting Go

10.35pm, BBC One, Tuesday 13 March

Having a child leave home is difficult enough for any parent, but when your teenage daughter has Down’s syndrome it’s even harder. Domenica Lawson, nearly 16, is unsettled at the prospect of growing up and of having to one day leave home. But it’s her mother, Rosa Monkton, who is faced with the challenge of planning for the future, knowing that her daughter must eventually start an independent life without her.

Letting Go follows Rosa as she meets three other young people with learning disabilities, and discovers how they are managing the transition to greater independence.

Jack Hale, from Devon, is a year older than Rosa’s daughter and also has Down’s syndrome. There is a happy and well-run care home very nearby, but his mother Ronni has never really considered it. Her sparky son has ambitions to be a DJ and to "be famous", and she is reluctant to limit his horizons.

Jess Hiles has a rare genetic disorder. With the encouragement of her parents, she has moved into her own flat. But as she and her parents have discovered, living alone does not mean living independently.

The documentary (1x50) was commissioned by Danny Cohen, Controller, BBC One and Charlotte Moore, Commissioning Editor for Documentaries and BBC Three. The commissioning executive at the BBC is Maxine Watson and Denman Rooke is executive producer for October Films.

Rita Simons: My Daughter, Deafness And Me

10.35pm, BBC One, Tuesday 20 March

EastEnders actress Rita Simons (Roxy Mitchell) has six-year old twin daughters, Maiya and Jaimee. Maiya was diagnosed with hearing loss at six months old and Rita and husband Theo have had the shocking news that one day, she will probably lose her hearing completely.

This deeply personal documentary follows Rita and her family as they make life changing decisions for Maiya’s future - for them, the choice is between embracing the Deaf world, learning to sign and sending her to a specialist school or trying to give her hearing with technology, implants and artificial sound. The choices that lie ahead for Rita and her family are vast and complex.

Along the journey, Rita meets a hearing mother with a deaf daughter who has embraced the Deaf Community, she watches a young boy have his Cochlear Implant turned on for the first time, and engages with a group of people who are strong supporters of their Deaf Culture. Rita also experiences first-hand what it is like being deaf in a hearing world.

Rita Simons: My Daughter, Deafness And Me is part of the Disability Season on BBC One. The programme will be shown on the Sign Zone and will also be available on BBC iPlayer.

The documentary (1x50) was commissioned by Danny Cohen, Controller, BBC One and Charlotte Moore, Commissioning Editor for Documentaries and Knowledge, BBC Three. The commissioning executive at the BBC is Samantha Anstiss and Todd Austin is executive producing for Leopard Films.

We Won’t Drop The Baby

10.25pm, BBC One, Sunday 25 March

Comedian Laurence Clark and his wife Adele both have cerebral palsy. When they had their baby boy, Tom, six years ago they were criticised by doctors for being irresponsible because Laurence is wheelchair-user and Adele is heavily dependent on her crutches.

But now Adele is pregnant again and this time she is determined to have a natural birth: a brave decision considering Laurence’s cerebral palsy was caused by his own difficult birth and Adele’s CP affects her from the waist down. For six months we follow Laurence, Tom and Adele in a film that lays bare the joys… and hurdles… of disabled parenting.

The documentary (1x50) was commissioned by Danny Cohen, Controller, BBC One and Charlotte Moore, Commissioning Editor for Documentaries and BBC Three. The commissioning executive at the BBC is Sam Anthony and Elspeth O’Hare is executive producing for IWC Media.

All transmission times and dates are subject to change.

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