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…”
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 and even the GBBO queen, Mary Berry has a missing finger (did you even notice? I didn’t!)
There are 12 million people with disabilities in Britain but we only make up 6.5% of on-screen staff
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:
- Episode 3 – 6th December @ 15:45 pm
- Episode 4 – 7th December @ 15:45 pm
- Episode 6 – 11th December @ 15:45 pm
- 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).
I’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
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