Saturday, 30 July 2011

The Dating Game

What a week. The Tourette Scotland office has been agog with the news that a TV channel want to put on a personal introduction style programme to match persons with other persons, in the name of love - and because it will feature such persons with Narcolepsy, Tourette Syndrome and Aspergers Syndrome, it was of great interest to us to see how that would pan out. And the agogness was even more heightened, by the thought of some tasteless Blind Date affair - and thought that was not dispelled when the proposed name of the show was announced: The Undateables. Say, what????

Facebook was off its head with posts, there were distressed phone calls, many emails - all hating the title and the dating concept. Filming is yet to start, but the show is commissioned so we are halfway to seeing it on screen. All the complaints were stating the same thing: that all this programme going to do for people with TS was to perpetuate the myth that they are flawed in some way; and set them up to be watched by an audience wishing to see the parade. And surely the biggest insult to all the participants is calling the show - and it is a show, not a documentary (and it is to be billed under factual 'entertainment')- The Undateables? Too close to the Untouchables (biblical reference to Lepers....) for my liking.

I also doubted the 'factual' side of the programme, too. How on earth, with that car crash TV name, can the programme makers prevent people tuning in, expecting to see a bit of a side show about someone who is going to act in a different way to them, so they can point their beer can at the telly and say, at least I am not like that?

I was told by the TV folks, that the title is meant as a 'draw' and that once tuned in, the beercan waver will be so enraptured that they will watch the rest and see the truth....they will be converted.... and that of course, the programme will be handled sensitively, the content wont reflect that title. Aye Right. I cant see that. If the title and the programme dont match (surely a pun, there) then you wont have the right people tuning in, anyway? Its very, very upsetting.

It transpires that there are some supporters working with the proposed TS participants, some people who do know about TS and who have assured us that they will be working hard to change the name of the show, and to make it work as a programme that demonstrates the 'dateable' aspect of TS. Thats some comfort, and better than no-one being involved at all. But my waters are still telling me its not going to be easy. Already, that dreadful title has caused some of our younger members to be teased and hide themselves away. If the show goes ahead in this way, what chance have any of them got, once its aired? So, to my busy week: writing and phoning, emailing and complaining - to the film makers, the media, the disability representatives, and the TV channel, plus a number of other supporters; already the impetus is gathering, to change the whole thing. Will they listen?

But for me, its created a few days more work; and I wait and see how it will turn out, as I would much rather the energy, time and commissioning fees went to a programme that shows purely how TS is, about the lovely people in our community, and overturn all the myths about TS and campaign for better understanding and more services. Especially in Scotland.

The other tasks absorbing me this week have been completing reports, funding bids, and looking at next year for events and more outlets for expressing the views of people with TS in more places - if the prospect of a TV show that may not work in our best interests has done anything for me this week, its to motivate me to look for more media that does express what our community is saying. Expect Radio TS anytime soon.... yes, we have a voice, the voice for Scotland and we shall be using it to demonstrate how TS is being lived here, what we want, need and deserve. Onwards we go....


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