Ah, BBC3. Its target audience is largely those aged from 16-34 years old. It’s the Radio 1 of the telly world. Your correspondent is 26 years old. However, your correspondent would rather eat a cement sandwich than watch pretty much anything on this “television channel” (the majority of its output means those quotation marks are thoroughly deserved, the fabulous Being Human excepted).
This makes me cross. True, there may not be that many serious documentary-loving twenty-somethings. However, if you’re going to insist on having a channel that is meant to be somewhat more “yoof”-orientated in its outlook, you should try and cater for all of your target audience. I admire the BBC in this respect – BBC3 may have once been BBC Choice but it had a similar yoof (yes, I’m sticking with this, however annoying) programming remit and began in 1998, 3 years ahead of the allegedly more trendy and hip Channel 4’s equivalent E4, which then didn’t move over to Freeview until mid-2005. The BBC have given itself not just a T4-style slot but a whole channel for yoof – surely there must be somewhere to accommodate young persons who don’t feel particularly enthused by “Snog, Marry or Avoid?” (shudder)?
Thank goodness, then, for “Kara Tointon – Don’t Call Me Stupid”. Ignore the typically hysterical documentary title. Although, yes, it is basically “Her From Strictly is Dyslexic – Oh DEAR”. But this very thoughtful little programme is also far more than that. Despite its annoyingly-repetitive pop soundtrack (unlike the BBC music and sound folk, as much as I like Corinne Bailey Rae’s excellent second album The Sea I also have other CDs in my house), the show is surprisingly grown-up. We learn that whilst Tointon was relatively fortunate in that she was diagnosed with dyslexia whilst at the early stage of primary school, her dyslexia still profoundly affects her life on many levels.
There are so many things to like about the programme. A large part of this is Kara Tointon herself. Despite her dyslexia causing her genuinely significant difficulties in reading and comprehension, Tointon comes across as articulate, warm towards her fellow young dyslexics and honest. Whilst cynics amongst you (hi Dad! I’m live on the internet! *waves*) will point out that she has most likely been paid by the BBC in some way or another to make this documentary, she shows real bravery in revealing just how tough it makes things such as learning scripts compared to her fellow professionals (nicely illustrated by Tointon and her former Eastenders co-star Ricky Groves re-learning their final scene together).
The programme itself is a bit of a star as well. It’s nicely shot but not indulgently so. Yes, it uses cartoony graphics, but in a really helpful and clever way that shows how words can jump off a page and appear brightly lit to dyslexics.
One could argue that were Tointon not 27 years old, photogenic and a star of Eastenders, Strictly etc, the documentary wouldn’t have even got past the reception desk. There may be some truth in this. For once, this doesn’t bother me – a star like Tointon is somebody young people are far more likely to relate to and the programme is in my view good enough to be shown in schools. It’s the type of thing Channel 4’s now sadly seemingly-defunct Schools strand would have once shown. It relates to young people in a way that doesn’t patronize or pander to lazy yoof stereotypes. Sure, Tointon wears white jeans and compares having an MRI scan to a sunbed. But she’s also passionate about helping fellow young dyslexics and clearly has a great relationship with her supportive and lovely family.
I really enjoyed this. I never have thought I’d type these words but well done, BBC3 – more of this sort of thing please.
Posted by Velocity Girl