1 user

Are You Having a Laugh? TV and Disability (2010)

A hilarious look at how disability has been shown on British TV over the last 40 years with David Walliams, Steven Merchant, Ben Miller, Dom Joly and many more with their favourite characters from 'Ironside' to 'Andy and Lou'.




Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?



Complete credited cast:
Himself - Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Mark Allen ...
Man with limp
Ash Atalla ...
Tina Baker ...
Cerrie Burnell ...
Laurence Clark ...
Luke Devenish ...
Jenny Eclair ...
Kathryn Flett ...
Richard Herring ...
Michael Hughes ...
Ian MacRae ...


A look at disability as portrayed on television starting in the 1960s and an appeal on behalf of the well-meaning but condescending Spastics Society. 1970s soap 'Crossroads' had a wheelchair-user Sandy but is accused of tokenism. US cop series 'Ironside' however had a leading character whose invalidity never stopped him from solving crimes with the able-bodied. Monty Python's sketches on people who are different are now seen as in questionable taste and soaps have been slow to use genuinely disabled actors - wheelchair-user Julie Fernandez in 'El Dorado' and blind Kitty McGeever in 'Emmerdale' being two isolated examples. In the twenty-first century comedies like 'Extras' and 'The Office' feature disabled people - Fernandez again in the latter - though they now set up ignorant able-bodied people as the butts of the jokes. Attitudes may have changed but Paralympics medallist Tanni Grey-Thompson can still recall how she was unable to collect a TV award because the rostrum she needed to ... Written by don @ minifie-1

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis





Release Date:

25 June 2010 (UK)  »

Box Office


£200,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


See  »

Did You Know?


The original title was 'The Token Wheelchair', which still appears in the opening voiceover script. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Are You Having a Laugh? TV and Disability
6 July 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The fact that I have a form of disability myself made this programme seem like the perfect opportunity to see how other forms are seen on one of my favourite mediums. Narrated by David Walliams, this documentary looked into how disability, whether it be mental, social or physical is portrayed on television in all its genres. Soap opera brought us the first ever disabled character (played by a real disabled actress) in the failed Eldorado, then Crossroads (played by a non-disabled actor) and recently EastEnders with a real wheelchair user. US cop shows brought us the wheelchair bound Ironside (played by non-disabled Raymond Burr). Comedy brought us the Monty Python with different people sketches, The Office with the wheelchair user, Little Britain with Lou and Andy, and recently Extras with dwarf actor Warwick Davis. A little mention of films showed disability as something to fear or evil, e.g. Captain Hook, James Bond villains with no hands and metal arms. Reality shows like Big Brother brought us contestants with Tourette syndrome, blindness and recently a contestant with no legs and an eye missing. Finally, drama gave the chance for real disabled people to expose themselves for dramatic, personal and educational reasons in Cast Offs. Oh, and there is mention of the word and culture surrounding "spastics". This programme is basically proving there are people who criticise how disability is portrayed whether it be serious or for laughs, but all are not derogatory. With contributions from Tina Baker, Jenny Eclair, Julie Fernandez, Mat Fraser, Dom Joly, Francesca Martinez (comedienne with Cerebral Palsy), Stephen Merchant, Ben Miller, Nicholas Parsons, Arthur Smith, dwarf actress Kiruna Stamell, Jimmy Tarbuck and Dame Tanni Grey Thompson (wheelchair bound public figure). Good!

1 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: