I’ve never been a massive fan of Pudsey and the whole Children in Need hoop-la. Once a year disabled children and young people get paraded on television to tug at the nations heartstrings. This is the pity parade that squeezes money out of people who otherwise never spare a thought for them from one month to the next.
I do realise that plenty of people only watch to see what song and dance number the EastEnders cast will do that year and little children get excited about baking spotty biscuits and going to school in their pyjamas without really have too much understanding of what it’s all about.
The causes supported by Children in Need are very good. They really are. But sadly the annual pity parade does so much to undermine what really is important about current disability issues, that Pudsey remains unpalatable for me and for many other disabled people, their families and their supporters.
But surprisingly soon after Children in Need our televisions have been taken over by disability again. But this time it is most definitely a parade of indignation and it’s not the viewer’s pity they’re after – but for them to be aware of the hot and righteous anger which we feel and which we want them to be aware of too. None of the people interviewed today want your pity. They don’t want your money either and they frankly don’t give a stuff if you want to wear spotty pyjamas to the office.
Today, 26 November the Bubb Report was published. I’m old enough to be able to remember a time when this would not even have been reported on our televisions, let alone several times over the day at peak viewing times. This was reality TV at it’s best, so making allowances for my non-skills at critique, here is my summary.
Cast of “The Only Way is Bubb” or “Made in an Assessment Unit near you” were:
Sir Stephen Bubb looking exhausted and frankly very much in need of undoing the top button of his trousers. I’m willing to bet he’ll be getting outside of a nice big glass of red tonight! It’s hard work being disliked and even the interviewers gave the impression that they thought the report was a sounding gong and utter waste of money which could have been well spent elsewhere.
Gary Bourlet from People First England looked well in control of his interviews, but came across as sceptical of the whole business and while hoping for good, seemed fully prepared for a continuing fight.
Mr Norman Lamb gave the impression that he really cares. This is a good thing. It makes a change and therefore usually means that a) He’ll give up politics or b) He’ll turn out to be toothless, but we’ll respect him anyway.
Phil Wills (Joshua’s father) does good interview! No wonder he gets so many – he’s a television interviewers dream with a clear, calm manner plus there’s a sniff of good news to keep the whole thing bouncy as it seems Joshua is really, actually coming home. That interview calmness belied the titanic struggle uphill that have got his family this far.
Far less calm was Leo Andrade, interviewed in her cosy and spotless house, speaking about her son Steven begging her to take him home. He voice broke as she told her story and it was impossible to watch without feeling her anguish. Even the hospital where Steven is being held agrees he shouldn’t be there, but they don’t know where else to send him. Ah yes…..that old problem.
The reality of ATUs (Assessment and Treatment Units) was discussed from most points and at length. But all we really know from watching this day of Disability reality TV (“The Only Way is Bubb” or “Made in an Assessment Unit near you”) is that ATUs don’t work. We didn’t need an expensive and long winded (which may explain Sir Stephen’s discomfort and need to undo that top button) report to tell us that – we knew already.
But no-one mentioned the stars unable to appear in the show. Owing to their stay in an ATU near you, Connor Sparrowhawk and Stephanie Bincliffe were not available for comment.