Then Barbara Met Alan Premieres Monday 21 March on BBC Two



Barbara and Alan, two cabaret performers who met at a gig, fell in love, and became the driving force behind an unprecedented campaign of direct action that eventually led to the implementation of the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act.

Then Barbara Met Alan stars Bafta-nominated Ruth Madeley (Don’t Take My Baby, Years And Years) as comedian and activist Barbara Lisicki and Arthur Hughes (Help, The Innocents) as singer songwriter and activist Alan Holdsworth, and is written by multiple Bafta-winner Jack Thorne and actor-turned-writer Genevieve Barr.

Their journey begins in the early 1990s, when many deaf, handicapped, and neurodivergent people in the United Kingdom faced significant challenges in the employment, lived in substandard housing, and had limited access to public transportation. The assumption that the crippled population should be grateful recipients of charity handouts was widespread at the time, and disabled persons, far from being equal autonomous citizens, had no legal rights.

But then Barbara met Alan…

With their wicked sense of humour and post-punk energy combined, the two quickly plan to take down Telethon, a 28-hour television charity event that raises donations by appealing to people’s emotions and making them feel sorry for crippled people. They galvanise an army of crippled protestors from throughout Britain, united behind the fiery Piss On Pity protest slogan, and Telethon is soon no more.

They form DAN, the Crippled Peoples Direct Action Network, after shocking a nation and demonstrating what disabled people are capable of. And, with their new baby in tow, they’re off on a tour to shut down inaccessible bus routes and picket theatres, restaurants, and railway stations – anywhere that refuses disabled people access.

After honing their use of pink handcuffs as part of their direct-action tactics and losing DAN members along the way, Barbara and Alan embark on a fearless and coordinated plan to bring Westminster to a halt until the establishment can no longer stand in their way and disabled people are granted equal legal rights.

This punky and irreverent film is Directed by Bafta-winning Bruce Goodison (Anne, Murdered By My Father) and Bafta-nominated Amit Sharma (Crip Tales) with music by Chaz Jankel (The Blockheads) and Alan Holdsworth.

The unique ensemble cast features emerging and established disabled talent, including Phillipa Cole, Reece Pantry, Fergus Rattigan, Nadeem Islam and Shreya M Patel. Their characters, like the original members of DAN, are with Barbara and Alan every step of the way, through the highs and lows of the movement and their relationship.

At its heart, this is an uplifting and irreverent love story of two extraordinary people, destined to change the world from the moment they set eyes on each other. Through their humour and unstoppable energy, disabled people find a voice and begin a journey towards gaining the rights they’ve long deserved. But as Barbara and Alan devote their lives to the cause, campaign success comes at a personal cost and the pair are eventually driven apart on the eve of their historic, yet bittersweet, victory.

Airdate: Monday 21 March 2022 at 9.00pm on BBC Two.

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