The Hairy Bikers – Home for Christmas (with ME!)

by Eshé Brown

The Hairy Bikers – Home for Christmas TV Series
Starting 4th December on BBC 1 @ 15:45

When I was a child I had a pretty rough time at school. Not only was I one of the only mixed-race kids, with funny fuzzy hair, I was also a gap-toothed, beanpole with 4 fingers missing from my left hand. Not a natural recipe for confidence.

I grew up seeing very few black people in the media and certainly none with disfigurements like mine. There was no one I could look up to like me, so instead I would wish I was someone else. All through primary and secondary school I wanted to be like the other girls in my class with straight hair, shorter legs and all their fingers. I also wanted to play the violin but I was told there was no point because I wouldn’t be able to play in an orchestra because if I played left-handed I’d poke someone’s eye out.

I was scared someone would say “oh you can’t do that because of your hand…”

eshe brown

As I went through life, people’s reactions to my hand were good and bad (but it’s the bad experiences that stuck with me and impacted my self-esteem). I didn’t go for all the things I truly wanted because I was scared someone would say “oh you can’t do that because of your hand…” I began to hide my disability because it stopped any embarrassing situations and avoided me getting hurt. The problem was, I was hiding a part of who I am.

Recently I’ve noticed that more broadcasters are recruiting presenters and talent who do not fit society’s idea of “normal” and they are working in great roles – not just as the ‘token disabled person’. For instance, there’s Alex Brook on The Last Leg who has a prosthetic leg and hand and arm disabilities, as well as Abi Austen who is a transgender war correspondent.

There are 12 million people with disabilities in Britain but we only make up 6.5% of on-screen staff

eshe brown

But there’s still a long way to go. A report by Diamond, a project set up by the major broadcasters – including BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Sky – to monitor diversity in the industry found that ‘disabled people are the most under-represented minority group in broadcasting’. There are 12 million people with disabilities in Britain but we only make up 6.5% of on-screen staff and 5.5% of off-screen staff in television. Shocking huh?

So this leads me on to my exciting news… (which is why you clicked on the link – not for my life story)… I’m going to be on TV next week!

I’ll be featuring in the BBC’s Christmas edition of The Hairy Bikers along with 6 other talented cooks. The BBC 1 series kicks off on Monday 4th December at 15.45PM and runs each weeknight for two weeks. I will feature in 4 of the episodes showing viewers how to make simple, edible Christmas gifts. Each clip is just 6-minutes but you have to start somewhere!

I’d love it if you could tune in and watch it (or record/watch again) and let me know what you think. I’ll be featured in the following episodes:

  1. Episode 3 – 6th December @ 15:45 pm
  2. Episode 4 – 7th December @ 15:45 pm
  3. Episode 6 – 11th December @ 15:45 pm
  4. Episode 7 – 12th of December @ 15:45 pm

As well as the 1-hour prime time episode of the best bits on Saturday 23rd December, BBC2 (time TBC).

The Hairy Bikers Foodie EsheI’m not going to lie, I’m still a bit terrified about it going out – but I’m honestly more excited than scared (hurrah, progress!) If you miss any of the recipes I’ll be posting these up on the blog, once they have gone out on TV too, so do pop back if you want to have a go at any of them in time for Christmas!

Behind the Scenes

The filming itself was so much fun once I relaxed and that’s a lot to do with the really lovely team at Hungry Gap Productions who filmed, styled and organised our set. Rob Wicks (Eat Pictures) was a fantastic director who really helped me be myself – so much so that after the first 15 minutes working together I was completely at ease and putting my oar in about how we set up the shots and props (I’m such a bossy boots!) The team didn’t know about my disability when they approached me but as soon as I told them they were brilliant. They reassured me that it made no difference and they believe there should be all sorts of people on the television!

We shot the filming up in Bristol and I was so nervous beforehand that I didn’t eat or sleep for 2 whole days (unheard of for me – I’m a pro at both). Somehow I managed to crack on through though and in a whole day we made and shot all four recipes in a gorgeous barn, owned by The Simpson Sisters.

The more people on TV like you (or not like you because it’s fine to be different!) the less young people with disabilities growing up will feel they have a ceiling on their ambitions

eshe brown

I guess I just wanted to be really honest and say that just because I may come across as really confident online or when you meet me (and hopefully on the TV) that’s just the highlights you see and like us all, there’s a lot more to me than my outwardly confident persona. Before I started filming I practised the recipes over and over and I felt like I’d bitten off more than I could chew but the reason I didn’t change my mind was because I knew it was important for me to do this.

If I’ve felt like I couldn’t do ‘this and that’ because of my hand all of my life, then others like me will have too and that has to stop. In the end, I said to myself, “Eshé – toughen up – the more people on TV like you (or not like you because it’s fine to be different!) the less young people with disabilities growing up will feel they have a ceiling on their ambitions.”

As the phrase goes… “feel the fear and do it anyway!”

If you want to show your support please leave me a comment on the blog or via one of my social media channels, thanks! x

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Mandy November 28, 2017 - 9:57 AM

Can’t wait !!!! So excited for you ,,x

Vicky Chater November 28, 2017 - 10:14 AM

Hey Eshé, really excited for you! What an insane achievement. I just wanted to comment because I’m pretty sure we went to college together (BHASVIC?) and I honestly never knew about your fingers!
I will definitely watch you next month. 🙂
Vicky Chater (was Hall) x

Eshé Brown November 29, 2017 - 7:27 PM

Hi Vicky! I must admit I didn’t recognise your name but I just found you on Facebook and I remember you face! Did you do Psychology or English Lit at BHASVIC? I think we must have been in one of those together if so. Lovely to hear from you!

Vicky Chater November 30, 2017 - 12:55 AM

Yes, did psychology! I knew I recognised your face. You should be so proud, I can’t wait to see the hairy bikers episodes! 🙂 X

Sam Bilton November 28, 2017 - 10:18 AM

Well done Eshe! I’m sure you’re going to be fantastic!

Lyndsay November 28, 2017 - 2:33 PM

Wow, that is AMAZING – I will be watching, can’t wait to see it 🙂

Eshé Brown December 2, 2017 - 2:25 PM

Thank you Lyndsay – lovely to know you’ll be watching! I hope you have a lovely first Christmas with Violet x

Alastair Reid November 28, 2017 - 2:38 PM

Brilliant – and good story too.
A bit of feedback – I have literally never noticed that you had a physical disability. And I suspect few others have. So the idea it might hold you back was maybe just in your head?
Brilliant that you are now embracing it, letting go those negative beliefs around it, it’s all adds up to what makes you uniquely you. And it is a fact that you are the best in the world at being you!

Eshé Brown December 2, 2017 - 2:21 PM

Hey Al,
Thanks so much for the support 🙂
I think some of it was definitely in my head but I also think the world has moved on from the idea that people in the TV and media need to be perfect (which was very much the impression I had when I was younger from advertising etc). I also had a few bad bullying experiences but the important thing is the majority of people don’t care about it!

Natalie - Tea, Cake and Make November 28, 2017 - 2:52 PM

This is so exciting Eshé! Can’t wait to see you on TV, am sure you’re going to rock it!

Gemma November 28, 2017 - 9:18 PM

Awesome Eshe! I will be watching 🙂

Amanda Meier November 29, 2017 - 6:47 AM

Well done Eshe. So excited for you and, about the fact that my neighbour is now a celebrity! I have never noticed your disability (wouldn’t know now, had I not read your blog), but I applaud you for now reaching a point where you can embrace it.
We’ll be tuning in, for sure. X

Eshé Brown December 2, 2017 - 2:14 PM

Aww thank you for the kid words and support Amanda – it is very exciting and I feel very lucky to be asked to take apart! x

Flo November 29, 2017 - 8:14 AM

You’re amazing darling! Could not be happier for you! Can’t wait to see you on TV!!! Xxx

Eshé Brown December 2, 2017 - 2:16 PM

Thank you Flo-bee! Say hello to Izzy for me – I miss her food blogs!! xx

Nick Harvey December 3, 2017 - 9:02 PM

Hi Eshé.. Sounds amazing and it is so you! You will be star in the making. Look forward to watching and a huge congrats 🙂

Sarah Jones December 7, 2017 - 1:36 AM

I think you’re amazing! Disability pffft. . Better than most 10 fingered people I know. . Well done!

Eshé Brown December 9, 2017 - 10:15 AM

Thank you so much Sarah! I’ve felt a hell of a lot of love over the last few days since I wrote this and it’s really heartwarming. I hope you enjoy the show! xx

Austen February 21, 2018 - 9:36 AM

Hi Eshé, sorry to have missed the shows but LOVE the blog. What an inspiration. Very best of luck with your adventures in 2018. I hope that we (The Urchin) can do something with you along the way 🙂 xx


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