On Sunday evening, britain’s Got Talent ” is approaching its end and this year’s winner was crowned. Nothing unusual there.
But he Lost the Voice of the Guy the victory was not only remarkable because he was the first comedian to win in the show’s history -but also because he has cerebral palsy.
On the other hand, the runner-up, another comedian called Robert White, has Asperger’s syndrome.
The couple helped the show attract its biggest audience since the year 2015, with overnight ratings showing an average of 8.7 million viewers tuned into the final.
Both acts, made in the light of his own disability in their actions. So it is a historic moment for the disability on TELEVISION?
“No,” says the broadcaster Mik Scarlet, who is now the equality and inclusion coach. “I think that is just another of those moments that happens throughout the history of the media.
“The media has always believed that the public can’t cope with a disability, but that has never been my experience.
Final Youtube, published by britain’s Got Talent
“I was discovered in a similar, not so dramatic, hail, praise and glory in 1989, and I went on to become one of the most famous of the disabled presenters.”
Mik, who uses a wheelchair, became a familiar face to television viewers as the presenter of Channel 4’s kids TV show beat That, and went to the performance in The Bill and Brookside.
“Wherever I went, all the people that I met were fine with [my disability], that really doesn’t matter to me,” he says.
“What this really needs is a historical moment where the media wakes up to the fact that, in reality, the general public are quite well with a disability”.
He adds: “I Hope that that can happen, is that now the media is going to stop what is a terrible tragedy, history.
“It is very easy for the media to shine a light on the public and go ‘Oh, look, the public voted, they must have changed”, when in fact this is the first time that the public has been given the opportunity to vote”.
The spectators have not had many opportunities to vote for acts such as Robert White and Lost Voice-of-Man – whose real name is Lee Ridley – in talent shows before, but people with disabilities have been represented on the screen in a variety of other ways in the past few years.
Noughties comedy series Little Britain (which starred David Walliams – britain’s Got Talent judge), saw Matt Lucas to play a disabled character who was secretly healthy.
The sketches poked fun at the idea that people with disabilities false condition in order to claim the benefits, and the show was very popular with the spectators.
But now the comedy comes from disabled performers themselves.
Dean Chaffer, a comedy fan who has cerebral palsy, has been Lost to the Voice of the Guy from the race for a number of years.
“See to Read around various comedy clubs and venues throughout the north-east over the years, how he supported Ross Noble in the early days of his career, which was very good,” he recalls.
“And hopefully he can go as far as he wants to do comedy, and challenging people to the perception of disability and the obtaining of laughter along the way.”
And he adds: “the first rule of comedy is only to be funny, and I think that is what Lee does so really well.
“People with disabilities have a sense of humor, as all of the others… we are like normal people, and I think that it is necessary to note that Lee and Robert were there because they were the most fun people.”
Tim Renkow, another comedian with cerebral palsy, told the BBC: “[The audience] can get super uncomfortable when you get on stage, but once I have made three jokes, they just don’t care and want to be funny”.
One of the key things in both White and Ridley success, Mik thinks, is the fact that is triggered by the fact of their disability and the theme of some of his comedies.
“There are a couple of people now who work in the media who are disabled, but never actually mentions it. The thing about the Lost Voice Guy going, is a whole.
“And I think it would be very good if the person with a disability could really be allowed to talk about it again, and be considered something more than a contributor.
“You’re going to have a very funny comedy about the disability, which makes that disabled people laugh, but also makes non-disabled people laugh, not to us, but with us.
“If you are disabled, you tend to be considered the voice of the disability, and that, really, is not fair.”
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Another comedian Francesca Martinez, who has cerebral palsy, has often made light of their disabilities in their comedy routines, even during an appearance on the BBC’s Live At The Apollo.
Channel 4 comedy The Last stage is now in its 13th series, despite the fact that initially only set-up for a brief tour during the London Paralympic games in 2012.
The show, which stars Josh Widdicombe, Adam Hills and Alex Brooker sees Hills and Brooker regularly make fun of his own disability – Hill was born without a right foot and Brooker in his right leg was amputated when he was a baby. He also has the hand and arm deformities.
“I think we need disability to be standardised on the screen,” says Dean.
“The BBC has been Silent Witness (which earlier this year featured an episode with three disabled actors) and we just have to see disabled people going about their everyday lives.”
“There will be things that a person with a disability finds it amusing and is often about the things that have happened to you. Sometimes as a person with a disability to go through things, and I think that, if I don’t laugh about it, what would I do?
“And I think that is the reason why it is shown as The Last stage they are there, because it allows all to have a conversation about disability, and no longer taboo.
Dean adds: “Now that we have platforms as YouTube, people with disabilities are able to present themselves in the way that they want and say that this is my life I’m living, instead of someone who is controlling or producing the show, looking at having a version of them on the screen.
“People with disabilities now have much more control over the representation of themselves and challenging people.”