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Notes On Blindness (Storyville BBC-4 16 Feb 2017)



Notes on Blindness

Bafta-nominated feature film Notes on Blindness, receiving it’s premiere on BBC Four on Thursday 16 February at 9.00pm, is a moving and inspiring account of loss, rebirth and renewal – and the discovery of ‘a world beyond sight’.

In 1983, after decades of steady deterioration, John Hull, a professor at the University of Birmingham, became totally blind. To help him make sense of the upheaval in his life, he began documenting his experiences on audio cassette. Over three years he recorded over 16 hours of material.

This beautifully crafted documentary takes John’s original recordings as the template for the film, incorporating lip-syncing by actors in evocative reconstructions. The technique allows the viewer to immerse in John’s world as he comes to terms with his deteriorating sight and learns to experience the world in different ways. As John explains about his redemptive journey: “I knew that if I didn’t understand blindness, it would destroy me.”

Directed by Peter Middleton and James Spinney.

Notes on Blindness will be shown with a choice of viewing experiences for the visually impaired audience, available for the first time across BBC FOUR, Red Button and BBC iPlayer.

Audio Description

Written by Dr Louise Fryer, one of the UK’s leading Audio Describers and read by Stephen Mangan, the audio description track will be available to audiences viewing the film on BBC Four and BBC iPlayer. Building on the increasing popularity of talking books, this specially recorded AD track aims to provide blind and partially-sighted audiences with an alternative to the standard AD track.

Heightened Soundtrack

One of Europe’s leading sound designers, Joakim Sundström, has created a rich, immersive soundtrack calibrated specifically for blind audiences. This track uses enhanced sound design and additional audio from the characters in the film to guide the audience through the story. Instead of a narration-led model (as in the standard AD track) this approach aims to create a rewarding and complete audio experience that is immersed in the dramatic world of the film. This enhanced audio track will be available on transmission via the Red Button and on BBC iPlayer.

A comparison video will be available at to help viewers decide which audio track works best for them.

Pictured is Marilyn Hull (Simone Kirby) at home

Notes on Blindness airs on Thursday 16 February 2017 from 9.00pm-10.00pm on BBC Four and BBC iPlayer.