Up Close and Personal

Covering three decades, this collection of personal journeys gives an insight into how disabled people were often viewed through two powerful lenses. One saw disability as a personal tragedy. The other saw disabled people as triumphing over adversity. But disabled people usually don’t conform to these stereotypes, if given the opportunity to speak for themselves.

There are some fascinating exceptions to this kind of framing, when disabled people’s own voices are heard loud and clear. Some disabled people are seen leading ordinary lives, for example a visually impaired farmer, while other participants talk about their aspirations to full civil rights and a new life, once the disabling social barriers they persistently encounter are dismantled.

Graham Findlay (disability equality consultant)

Please note: titles in this collection may contain language or other content that reflect views prevalent in their time but that may cause offence today. They are included here for historical reasons and are in no way endorsed by the BFI or its partners.

Read more Close
Watch for free

Ian DuryIan Dury

Biopic198352 mins

Blockheads lead singer talks about how becoming disabled has affected his life and music.

Watch for free

A Day in the Life of Kevin DonnellonA Day in the Life of Kevin Donnellon

197228 mins

An episode of World in Action documenting the life of 11 year old Kevin and how he and his family live with the effects of the drug Thalidomide.

Watch for free

Y Gwr O Gwr Yr AranY Gwr O Gwr Yr Aran

197829 mins Location: Llanuwchllyn

Teacher Frank Letch of Llanuwchllyn, Gwynedd discusses his life and living with his acquired disability in this TV documentary. In Welsh with English subtitles.

Watch for free

Disabled GraduateDisabled Graduate

News19816 mins Location: Cambridge

Disabled graduate Peter Thweeney simply wants the opportunity to be economically independent, and has ambitions to become a lawyer.

Watch for free

Disabled Boy Invents Speech MachineDisabled Boy Invents Speech Machine

News19735 mins Location: Cambridge

Anglia TV report on the young disabled entrepreneur that has invented the Lightwriter, a communication device that won a British Design Award

Watch for free

Championship SwimmerChampionship Swimmer

Current affairs19671 minsSilent Location: Exeter

Champion swimmer Linda Hockworthy returns to the pool after a recent leg amputation.

Watch for free

Able YachtsmanAble Yachtsman

Current affairs19833 mins Location: Plymouth

Para sailor Mike enjoys the thrill of the wind in his sails.

Watch for free

Blind FarmerBlind Farmer

News19785 mins Location: Shebdon

Farming: hard work in all weathers - and not a job you'd associate with someone with a severe visual impairment.

Watch for free

Smallest Woman in the WorldSmallest Woman in the World

News19728 mins Location: Bromsgrove

Living in a world that makes no concessions for her size: Joyce Carpenter is Britain's smallest woman.

Watch for free

Cambridgeshire couple adopt a disabled childCambridgeshire couple adopt a disabled child

News19766 mins Location: Eynesbury

Anglia TV meet a 'Thalidomide boy' and his remarkable adoptive parents; all the subject of a new book and adapted BBC TV 'Play of the Week'.

Watch for free

Archer's TargetArcher's Target

Current affairs19792 mins Location: Grampound

Determined archer hits the target.

Watch for free

Former ballerina and polio survivor still teaches balletFormer ballerina and polio survivor still teaches ballet

News19708 mins

Anglia TV enjoy meeting former ballerina Elizabeth Twistington Higgins, a polio sufferer, who is now a successful painter by mouth.

Watch for free

One of Them Is BrettOne of Them Is Brett

196530 mins

Unforgettable documentary about a boy, born without arms due to thalidomide, and his family

Watch for free

Thalidomide survivor selected for OlympicsThalidomide survivor selected for Olympics

News19833 mins Location: Potton

Thalidomide baby' Ronnie West, accomplished in swimming, running, and shooting, is set to compete in the 1984 Paralympic Games.

Watch for free

Sip-and-Puff Assistive TechnologySip-and-Puff Assistive Technology

Current affairs19756 mins Location: Braunton

Eileen Brown lives with Multiple Sclerosis and uses assistive technology to write after seven years.

Watch for free

One Per Cent of Us - Children No MoreOne Per Cent of Us - Children No More

Current affairs197645 mins Location: Plymouth

The TV cameras return to Downham School to see what has changed for disabled children since 1966.

Watch for free

One Per Cent of Us - One in a HundredOne Per Cent of Us - One in a Hundred

Current affairs198652 mins Location: Plymouth

This documentary charts the progress and challenges of disabled people living in the community.

Watch for free

One Per Cent of Us - So Many ChildrenOne Per Cent of Us - So Many Children

Current affairs196638 mins Location: Plymouth

Parents and teachers of children with learning disabilities offer moving and practical accounts of their experiences.

Watch for free


Drama196112 mins

Sensitive portrait of a boy with Down’s syndrome, and the small village that includes him.

Watch for free

Three for SocietyThree for Society

196929 mins

Feisty and free-spirited, three disabled people talk frankly and directly about the barriers they experience in the 1960s