Comedian Rosie Jones wants disabled TV characters who are 'gritty and flawed'

By Imran Rahman-Jones
Newsbeat reporter


Stand-up comic and writer Rosie Jones says we need to see disabled characters on TV "who are gritty, and flawed, and three-dimensional like every other person is".

The comedian, who has cerebral palsy, says she's "angry at how disabled people are portrayed by the media".

"They're always the victim, or they're always nice... I've met a lot of disabled people that I don't like."

Her comments come after a Royal Television Society debate on the issue.

Rosie, who is also a writer for the topical comedy show The Last Leg, has told Newsbeat that the presentation of disabled people on TV has been too simplistic up to now.

"Disabled people used to be either the good person or the real evil villain. There's no way in between," she says.

Rosie says that she's a "massive attention seeker" and that she only wants these changes so she can play the new roles herself.

"When I talk about these flawed characters, yes I want to play those characters.

"I want to play a wife who cheats on her husband, or just a normal person who isn't an angel, because I am far from an angel."

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionAdam Hills and Alex Brooker, two of the hosts of The Last Leg

Rosie says that working on The Last Leg allows her to be candid about her disability.

"Obviously you've got Adam Hills and Alex Brooker, who are disabled, so when you've got them two and me, it can get quite dark about disability.

"When you get a lot of disabled people in a room, anything can be said.

"I feel that because I'm disabled, I can say a lot more things than able people perhaps couldn't get away with. I try to be disabled but cheeky."

Rosie says she started in television in 2011 and feels like we're in a much better position now.

"I believe we're going in the right direction, but it's just a bit slow," she says.

"I started TV on a disability scheme [with Channel 4], which was amazing.

"It allowed me to leapfrog over being a TV runner - which was great, because I'm no good at running," she laughs.

Rosie started as a researcher before writing and performing herself.

As well as The Last Leg, she has written for shows such as 8 Out of 10 Cats and also appears on Countdown and Harry Hill's Alien Fun Capsule.

"I think that the way forward now is more schemes and much more disabled people on TV: in sitcoms, in soaps. A disabled person reading the news would be the dream," she says.

However, she thinks that there is still a long way to go. For example, she only gets labelled as a "disabled comedian" rather than just "comedian".

"It annoys me when I'm compared to other [disabled] comedians, because our styles are totally different," she says.

"I don't feel like we have a lot in common apart from our disability.

"So to me, it's a bit ridiculous to say, 'You have green eyes, therefore you must be like that other comedian with green eyes.'"

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