As the BBC airs its new factual drama, Then Barbara Met Alan, about the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act in 1995, hear writer Jack Thorne, director Amit Sharma and disability leads from BBC and Channel 4 discuss disability and the TV industry.
What are the opportunities and barriers? Can you have a successful career in TV with a disability? And what are broadcasters doing to foster inclusion and accessibility?
There will be behind the scenes insights from the set of Then Barbara Met Alan – a film made with significant numbers of disabled people on-screen and off – as well as an honest conversation about what more the TV industry can do to support up and coming disabled talent.
This session will be captioned manually by My Clear Type and signed by a Registered Sign Language Interpreter.
Caroline O'Neill - Caroline is a Series Director and Executive Producer with a background in popular factual, specialist factual, factual entertainment and docs. Caroline co-directs the campaign group, Deaf and Disabled People in TV (DDPTV) and is a member of the Coalition for Change.
Jack Thorne - Jack is a writer of film, television and theatre. Jack has won five BAFTA’s for his television work, and his latest credits include the upcoming Then Barbara Met Alan, Help, National Treasure, The Virtues (co-written with Shane Meadows) and BBC’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. In film, his credits include Wonder, The Aeronauts and Enola Holmes.
In theatre, his play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has won multiple Olivier Awards including Best New Play and multiple Tony awards including Best Play.
Thorne considers himself a member of the disabled community and is a staunch advocate for the treatment of disabled people in the entertainment industry. In 2009, his television show Cast Offs was a disabled-led drama, exclusively cast with disabled talent, and in 2016 The Solid Life Of Sugar Water was the first disabled play at the National Theatre. Jack is a proud patron of Graeae Theatre Company which champions the representation of the disabled community on stage.
Amit Sharma - Amit Sharma is an award-winning theatre and television director. Amit recently co-directed the hotly anticipated Then Barbara Met Alan and won the Prix d’Itlalia winner for the Bafta nominated Criptales. Amit is currently the Associate Director of Kiln Theatre and has held senior artistic roles at the Birmingham Rep, Royal Exchange, Manchester and Graeae Theatre Company. He has a passion for telling stories from unheard voices and bringing them to a wider audience. His work has been produced nationally and internationally from large- scale outdoor show Aruna and the Raging Sun through to the critically acclaimed The Solid Life of Sugar Water at the National Theatre.
Nichola Garde - Nichola is responsible for BBC Content’s Elevate scheme and supports Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent off-screen talent to progress their careers. Previously, Nichola had a career in production as a researcher, assistant producer and director in factual at the BBC and across the indie sector. She has also worked as a project manager, lecturer and broadcaster in both the public and private sector.
Ally Castle - Ally is Channel 4’s Creative Diversity & Disability Lead, leading on disability-focused strategic editorial plans. Taking a “Paralympics And Beyond” approach, she works with commissioners and independent producers to grow Channel 4’s legacy of ground-breaking disability inclusion both on and off screen.
After starting her career in market research, Ally joined television in 2002, working in production at BBC Children’s on programmes such as Xchange, Blue Peter and Sportsround.
Ally then moved into BBC Marketing & Audiences as an Audience Planner, where she supported creatives and editorial decision-makers in insight-lead approaches to developing, commissioning and producing content and channels. She worked on major entertainment brands such as Strictly Come Dancing and Dragons’ Den, delivered audience engagement projects with young viewers, and played a key part in BBC Three’s core strategy when moving to an online-only service. Within this role, she specialized in understanding and representing under-served audiences and advising on diversity portrayal, with a particular focus on disability.
Launching her own creative strategy consultancy in 2014 specialising in content, brand and communication, Ally worked across broadcasting and beyond, with clients such as Channel 4, Sony Pictures Television, A+E, Fremantle, Disney, BBC, Viacom and ITV, on projects related to diversity as well as providing creative strategy support more broadly.
Ally’s passion for genuine inclusion and authentic portrayal in the screen industries has led her to tirelessly represent the voices and views of disabled people both on and off screen for nearly 20 years.
Chaired by Jordan Jarrett-Bryan - Jordan is currently a Sports Reporter for Channel 4 News, Presenter on TalkSport and creator of YouTube show It’s All Blakademik.
He was a Reporter and Presenter for Channel 4’s award-winning coverage of the 2012 and 2016 Paralympic Games, reporting on the Wheelchair Basketball. He played Wheelchair Basketball for 15 years, captaining the GB Junior side during 2 European Championships and World Championships in 2006. He played professionally for 2 years in the Italian league, winning a championship in the process.
But it’s his work as a Reporter and Editor that he’s best known for. After a successful period as Editor of Live Magazine, ATM magazine and a stint as a radio DJ with the BBC, Jordan got the chance to fulfil his ambition of becoming a Sports Reporter when he was recruited to be one of the faces of Channel 4’s 2012 Paralympic Games.
Youth culture is something he is very passionate about especially issues around the young, employment and education. Jordan is proud to be an ambassador for the charity Whizz Kids, where he works with disabled children, offering advice and guidance to help them reach their potential.