« Previous | Main | Next »

Beyond Disability: Adventures of A Blue Badger

Post categories:

Will Cooper Will Cooper | 09:40 UK time, Thursday, 29 March 2012

Nikki arrives at Maidenhead station

By Nikki Fox:

My name’s Nikki Fox and I’m the presenter of 5 live’s Adventures of a Blue Badger. I was born with muscular dystrophy, which means my muscles are all much weaker than they should be. As a result, by my mid-20s I had to start using a mobility scooter to get around. I now look like a young version of Madge from Benidorm with much more hair and less of a tan - and I’m actually disabled!

In Blue Badger I set out to see what it’s really like to be disabled in the UK in 2012. I think it’s pretty darn good, but just in case I’m slightly delusional (let’s bear in mind that as a wobbling disabled child that couldn’t climb stairs, I told everyone that I was going to be a prima ballerina) I thought I’d better check it out with a few other disabled people. So, off I scooted to meet the great and the good of the disabled world.

Along the way I took my scooter on the train for the first time - an exciting experience for both me and for the passengers who didn’t need tickets after the conductor couldn’t get to them because I was blocking the aisle.

Stuck on a train at Paddington

Stuck on a train at Paddington

I also braved the London Underground for the first time ever in my scooter. It was, shall we say, a bit of a challenge. Basically, when they say “step free access” they don’t really mean step “free”; they mean the step is anything from nought to 12 inches…on my scooter I can only do the nought! But I did get to my destination eventually with the help of a muscly producer Neil, who had to carry me - scooter and all - on and off the tube.

I spoke to Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson, who’s now become my disabled idol. When I grow up I want to be a Baroness! Some of her stories of blatant rudeness and discrimination really shocked me - listen to the doc if you want to find out how a disabled Baronesss goes to the loo when there’s no disabled toilet.

I also met with the BBC’s Security Correspondent Frank Gardner, who stories of how he’s been treated as a disabled man in other countries around the world was really interesting. I quote: “I wish I’d learnt the Thai phrase for ‘back off’”. But my most challenging interview was being grilled by a bunch of non-disabled 8 year olds, who were mostly interested in finding out whether I could bungey jump or sky dive (not surprisingly I can do neither).

Through the disability access gates on the Underground.

Through the disability access gates on the Underground

I went into this project curious to find out whether I was just too positive about being disabled in the UK; whether I really didn’t pay enough attention to the issues that other disabled people face. I must admit, I heard stories that made me think I should perhaps be more assertive or maybe get a bit more angry when I can’t get into a building or when I find there’s no disabled toilet. But, in general, I think I’ve got it pretty good. I like my attitude to life and, being disabled and often needing help, I really do get to see the best in people.

Nikki Fox presents Beyond Disability: Adventures of a Blue Badger tonight at 10pm on 5 live.

Click here to view a gallery of Nikki’s journey across London.

You can follow Nikki on Twitter at @FoxNikkiFox.


  • Comment number 1.

    It look as if Neil is muscly to King Kong envying proportions. If he was still around and could have a similar opportunity I like to think that he would first of all put the scooter down on the platform before gently lowering the person into the driving seat - rather than hey presto! producer like all at once.

    In homage to the public service of your idol for continuing to brave the same low seas of the morally coarse, and those others who Lady GaGa tells us were:'born that way',(that is,with moral dystrophy)-you might decide to call your means of having to pass among them-and the much higher-the 'Good ship Baroness'!

  • Comment number 2.

    Will Shindler can you possibly open a blog where we can discuss the 5live Sony Nominations:

    I forsee another more awards for 5live, which is testament to the fantastic controller Adrian Van Klavern.

  • Comment number 3.

    Sorry written in haste, last sentence without the more.

  • Comment number 4.

    Written in haste - repent at leisure! AVK a fantastic controller indeed...... do you want to start a blogging brawl?

  • Comment number 5.

    A brawl????? You mean a brawl whereby the anti 5live brigade inspired by david chisora hurl cyberspace spit at me, hurl a cyberspace slap at me, and end with me getting sactioned or even banned by the BBC Moderators ( British Boxing,Board of Control), no i prefer to do things more gentleman like i.e. Vitali Klitschko, i can beat you in a debate, and you know 5live is going to win quite a few Sony Awards, but you and your entourage cannot accept this,which leads to underhand tactics.

  • Comment number 6.

    We've been through this (Plastic Sonys) - every year. It's cyclical. Everyone gets one. There aren't enough national talk stations to do otherwise. Even Bacon's nominated!

    I'll let you make your own minds up. Richard Keys, Nolan, VD, Bacon, Murray, Nick Ferrari Newsbeat & Bacon (sic) etc. have all been nominated.

    Murray described it as 'the radio Oscars'! - which are international and with hundreds of films (initially) competing in each catergory. With the Sonys you have little choice but to give it to the same old cronies every other year.

    But it's sweet (pathetic) the enormously paid egos at the BBC hold so much store by it. In the absence of quality and listeners it's essential.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    Sorry Nikki I didn't meant to hijack your blog. It's just that if we had somewhere 'proper' to discuss the station, we wouldn't have to write on other blogs. Good luck.

  • Comment number 11.

    I travel to London from Teesside frequently , am disabled with polio and walk with sticks. On public transport , bus , tube and train I have never in all my years in the
    capital have someone offer me a seat . Those priority signs are a joke . The attitude
    in the capital appears to be 'I'm alright Jack.' I certainly would never ask but if the
    situations were reversed I would be ashamed ! Being disabled in London and trying to get around is no joke.
    Iread the other day of Tanni Grey Thompson's ordeal at Kings Cross station and it did'nt duprise me one bit.

  • Comment number 12.

    I think you might find that London is an exception, I would hope so anyway. People in London are not representitive of the rest of the country, they are a law unto themselves. I was knocked out of the way trying to get on a bus in London whilst holding a baby.

  • Comment number 13.

    Why is it that people always make it sound as if every Londoner has something against them? Those reserved seats for elderly or disabled people are there for a reason and why can't you say please let me sit there, of course the incumbent will get up. It is quite ludicrous that somehow every Londoner always gets it in the neck for not being friendly, not being upstanding, not being courteous, not saying hello and smiling, and so on. The very fact that it takes a while to get somewhere in London means people focus on their own space and travel and I bet if you just try pulling people out of their zone, in a friendly way, you would get help or a seat without any trouble. Please stop knocking the best place in the world, outside M50 3AH. It does not constitute a place where "they are a law unto themselves".

    As far as Nikki's blog is concerned, the more that the difficulties of blue badge holders and people with disabilities but more mobile are concerned, then all to the good. So she should continue to feed back the difficulties she finds or hears about, and then some good will come out of it.

  • Comment number 14.

    By the way I have lived all over the UK apart from Northern Ireland, I am not a native Londoner.

  • Comment number 15.

    Have to disagree Carrie. I live near London and it's my experience that whenever I go there people are not as they are in other places I have visited.

  • Comment number 16.

    A large % of people living in London actually originate from different parts of the Country, so this notion that they are somehow uniquely rude etc, is somewhat of a flawed idea imo, unless of course the alleged unique Londen rudeness is contagious, which would explain things.

  • Comment number 17.

    Well carrie we'll have to beg to differ . That's my experience and over the years it has never changed . Those people in those seats , or any seat for that matter should
    not have to be 'asked' to give up a seat to a disabled person . They should have the
    common decency to offer when they see a disabled person standing . It's not hard .
    People tend to be in their own little world with their earphones in or glued to their
    'phones . You obviously have no problems getting around carrie . Maybe if you did
    you would understand how difficult it is just getting from A to B especially in London.
    Mind you I don't have this problem anywhere else in the country . People tend to
    be more considerate.

  • Comment number 18.

    Fed is right, in fact the large % is world wide catchment not just UK. I think the point is that the people you meet or come up against if you are a visitor maybe don't match up to where you come from in your opinion, but it most certainly doesn't make everyone the same. It is extraordinary that anyone would judge every one by the same sweeping statement "people are not as they are in other places I have visited" or "I don't have this problem anywhere else in the country". You shouldn't have to ask but if you said 'please could I sit as I am unable to stand' I cannot imagine that someone wouldn't get up. I see it every single day on the Tube. The fact that you feel you shouldn't ask is simply making it difficult for yourself unnecessarily and although I accept it is disgraceful you are not noticed as a disabled person needing a seat, I just can't see why you can't ask or shame someone in to moving, if that is the problem. And to suggest that all Londoners must be less considerate than everywhere else you travel is mind bogglingly provincial and a bit insulting to the vast majority of London based people.

  • Comment number 19.

    Like it or not London people do have this reputation of being selfish, unfriendly and this ' looking after number one ' attitude,which I certainly never find in other parts of the UK.

  • Comment number 20.

    This is a bit regionalist, or city-ist, if you get me. If you were talking about different racial groups, or disabled people, or old people with those criticisms tacked on the end, you lot would be in trouble for breaking the law. I take great offence at all of these anti-London comments and I think they are rubbish.

    Look at 19. What an incredible sweeping statement. How offensive! "Like it or not London people do have this reputation of being selfish, unfriendly and this ' looking after number one ' attitude,which I certainly never find in other parts of the UK."

    And all these outrageous remarks stem from out-of-Londoners who think everyone here is selfish and unhelpful. Presumably all of you do not see these statements as sweeping and lacking any objectivity and also totally unhelpful in any way to do with this blog. Breathtaking small minded nonsense.

    Better keep away from the London parts of the Jubilee and the Olympics and Para Olympics, one of you might meet a mean person.


More from this blog...


These are some of the popular topics this blog covers.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.