Image © BBC - Photographer: Joel Anderson
Review by PosAbility Magazine columnist Dan White
Disability in television has always blown hot and cold.
Just the thought of bringing this amazing community into the fold is, it seems to the people at the top, problematic at best. It isn’t.
My daughter, Emily, was born with spina bifida.
I created a comic about a team of disabled superheroes called The Department Of Ability to address the lack of diversity in children’s entertainment.
It’s also sadly lacking in TV – usually.
But the latest Silent Witness episodes, One Day, didn’t disappoint.
Writer Tim Prager insists every script he now writes will include disability somewhere. I must buy him a drink.
These episodes promised a tough emotional ride for many of us parents, carers and activists.
The two hours, starring disabled actors Rosie Jones and Toby Sams-Friedman, were a roller coaster of emotions for many of us, seeing reflections of our lives played out in a dramatic situation. Some had to leave and others like myself raged, cried and cheered at familiar scenes.
The negativity of some of the characters, who had no previous involvement in disability, especially rung true with those of us who live with ableist comments daily, be they intentional or not.
The story moved briskly and was refreshingly not built on sensationalism.
Instead it showed day to day situations that can quickly escalate into misunderstandings between communities who sadly, thanks to a lack of education and stereotypes, very seldom mix.
It also proved that with a little understanding and investigation, ignorance can dissipate if confronted.
This episode in particular gave Liz Carr the freedom to be more central.
The theme of abandonment was strong throughout and Liz gave a performance worthy of a Bafta.
Other themes included euthanasia, hate crime, and discrimination.
It may have felt a bit subject heavy to some, but with little other television showcasing the subject matter, hats off to the team for giving us and an uneducated audience a full plate to tuck into.
Above all though, the core message was simply the value of human life, and that we could all understand one another if united.
After two hours of television that was honest, thoughtful, occasionally brutal but also close to home, I felt equally worn and excited.
Tim and the team have picked up the baton. Now all television needs to do is keep running with it.
Catch up on last night’s episode here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09qmy54/silent-witness-series-21-7-one-day-part-one
Part 2 airs tonight at 9pm on BBC One.