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Line of Duty's ableist treatment of Terry?

Cher_ScopeCher_Scope Posts: 3,741

Scope community team

edited April 14 in Coffee lounge

In a recent Metro article, Rachel Charlton-Dailey wrote about what she perceived as the ableist treatment of key character - Terry Boyle.  


A police man looking down a high street

Terry, played by disabled actor Tommy Jessop, has Down's syndrome and is at the centre of a storyline that see's him being framed for the murder of high-profile journalist Gail Vella by an organised crime gang (OCG!). Featured in many scenes being interviewed by the police, Terry is consistently on the receiving end of negative comments not equally dealt out to his non-disabled counterparts.  Rachel explains:
Consistently, Terry has been infantilised: from officers doubting he could be capable of understanding what’s going on to Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) calling him variations of ‘wee fella’ and ‘poor lad’. But at least that’s not as insulting as when he referred to Terry as ‘the local oddball’.

How is this ableism?

Understanding ableism as the worldview that pits disabled people below and as inferior to non-disabled people, it could be argued that the Line of Duty programme makers have failed to use this as an opportunity to stop ableist narratives; whilst, in turn reinforcing prejudicial attitudes.

Conversely, you could point out that the show's writer Jed Mercurio is merely replicating 'real life' language used in police stations which, however unfairly discriminatory, is more authentic than suggesting otherwise. 

What are your thoughts?

It's a tough one and, as an ardent Line of Duty fan, Terry's treatment and the language used to describe him has bothered me.  I'm heartened to see a disabled character (played by a disabled person) in such a prominent role but in a prime-time series attracting millions, my concern is that disabled people are once again being seen in a stigmatised light.  What do you think?
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Replies

  • leeCalleeCal Member Posts: 3,514 Disability Gamechanger
    my concern is that disabled people are once again being seen in a stigmatised light
    You could try complaining about it @Cher_Scope?
  • Cher_ScopeCher_Scope Posts: 3,741

    Scope community team

    @leeCal I could and that's definitely something I'm going to think about more!  Have you watched the series?
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    Want to tell us about your experience on the online community?  Talk to our chatbot and let us know.
  • leeCalleeCal Member Posts: 3,514 Disability Gamechanger
    No, I haven’t watched the series at all. I prefer to watch a non violent film if I can these days.
  • janer1967janer1967 Member Posts: 10,162 Disability Gamechanger
    I tend to agree here in a way but looking from the other side it does highlight the vulnerability of the disabled. It wouldn't be as bad if the way he was treated especially during the interviews demonstrated that adjustments that could have been put in place 

    Show how the police would support a disabled person 

    Just my opinion  of course 
  • Welshjayne2021Welshjayne2021 Member Posts: 85 Courageous
    I think you need to give Tommy Jessop credit for the incredible role he is portraying.  Whilst I understand, it could be perceived as stigmatising, this is fiction. I will be the first to complain if I thought this was patronising, but within the concept of the storyline I believe Jed Mercurio has handled the issue with sensitivity.  As @Janer1967 stated, it does highlight the vulnerability of the disabled.
  • Katharine_ScopeKatharine_Scope Member, Scope Career Pathways service Posts: 41 Connected
    I think there is definitely a lack of awareness in terms of language but I definitely think that the vulnerability is super important to highlight. It also makes me wonder how people with disabilities may be treated by the police - in terms of this it may provide a wake-up call
    Katharine McKnight
    Careers Adviser, Career Pathways
  • wilkowilko Member Posts: 2,328 Disability Gamechanger
    if the program was totally PC then it wouldn’t be true to live. The description used by Ted where not said offensively, if it where a about Terry and how the police and government bodies interacted with disabled people the program wouldn’t work and the viewers would not watch. 
  • Katharine_ScopeKatharine_Scope Member, Scope Career Pathways service Posts: 41 Connected
    wilko said:
    if the program was totally PC then it wouldn’t be true to live. The description used by Ted where not said offensively, if it where a about Terry and how the police and government bodies interacted with disabled people the program wouldn’t work and the viewers would not watch. 
    I do agree with that, absolutely. The language side is definitely true that it needs to be realistic - in the sense that the use of language is a common barrier in communities
    Katharine McKnight
    Careers Adviser, Career Pathways
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