Young deaf celebrity pops into NDCS office

I caused a minor frission of excitement in the office on Wednesday when Louis Kissaun, who had a leading role in the Channel 4 programme, Shameless, earlier in the year, came into the office. My colleagues hadn’t been so excited since the Helpline team bought some Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

What was he doing here? After a successful turn last year by Laura Bolter, we were thinking a few months back what young deaf person we could bring along to the party political conferences this year. And then Louis turned up on Shameless and the answer fell into our laps. We contacted his school and the rest is history.

It was great to meet Louis and to have him on board. It’s clear he’s going to do a great job. We know that MPs are going to be keen to meet with him to learn about his experiences growing up deaf and, of course, being on Shameless.

Our prep for the party conferences now starts in earnest – so look out for more details in coming months.


Shameless deaf character says goodbye

So the deaf character on Shameless said farewell last night in typical Shameless fashion – by bludgeoning his Dad to death. I guess it just goes to show that deaf people can be troubled psychotic murderers too though maybe I won’t try and add that to NDCS’s key messages.

So that now’s he gone, what did we think? Some thoughts from me:

1) Without falling into the trap of assuming that a deaf character isn’t “properly” deaf because he/she isn’t deaf ‘”like me”, there was a few bits where Danny seemed to be able to follow what other people were saying with relative ease. I find it impossible to lipread people unless they’re arms length away and I can see their whole face. Danny seemed to be able to do it whilst a nose length away. I think they could have expanded on the communication barriers deaf young people face, but Shameless is a drama, not an educational programme.
2) The jokes around swear words in sign language were all too predictable.
3) It was disappointing he wasn’t on screen that much. But when he was, he was shown integrating well with the various Shameless locals and modifying his style of communication. In last night’s episode, it was revealed he could actually speak, but only when he needed/wanted to. He was a very likable character (apart from the bludgeoning his Dad bit but, in his defence, he did have his reasons).

It was a great performance by Louis Kissaun, who is still 16 and attends Mary Hare school for the deaf. One of my female friends has suggested he has definite heart-throb potential. Hopefully, we’ll see more of him in the future.

And it was great to see a deaf role model, insofar anyone on Shameless can be described as a role model. Admittedly, I’m not sure I’d want young children to be watching Shameless. But I can safely say it’s the kind of thing I would probably have watched when I was 14 so I’m sure there were lots of deaf young people watching it last night. It may have been the first time that many of them saw a leading deaf character on a major TV programme the first time. Who knows, it may have inspired a few to try acting themselves…

And finally hats off to Channel 4. Here’s hoping, they will continue to show a range of deaf characters on the telly.

Anyhow, what did you think?

NDCS interview with Shameless deaf actor

The NDCS website has an interview with Louis Kissaun, the actor who plays Danny, the new deaf character in Shameless. Has some interesting comments on what it was like being deaf, working on the Shameless set. No exclusives on what his character’s hidden agenda is though…

Seems like a great role model for deaf children and young people.

Update – Shameless: new deaf character on the telly!

Make sure you watch Shameless on Channel 4 on Tuesday evening at 10pm to see the new deaf character who will be sticking around for a few episodes. The character, Danny, and the actor playing him, Louis Kissaun, both use British Sign Language as their main language. The Guardian had a short interview with the guy last week and the Shameless website has some basic information too.

And I enjoyed an exclusive preview of the showing last Tuesday! By ‘exclusive’, I, of course mean, I watched it on E4, which I forgot sometimes showed programmes a week in advance if you were willing to stay up until the wee hours of the morning. As a result of this, there has already been a bit of chatter about it online. Depressingly, some of it is already nitpicking and missing the bigger point about having deaf role models on TV. Anyhow, without giving away too much, I thought the new character was great and did a good job of showing the communication barriers experienced by deaf people. I’m hooked.

It’s not for the faint-hearted though. This being Shameless, Danny gets to use a few naughty words. And there’s also a heroin storyline going on with one of the other characters. Fun for all the family!

Shameless: new deaf character on the telly!

One of the plus sides of my job is that I sometimes find out some juicy gossip or really exciting news.

The downside is often I’m not allowed to talk about it for ages without fear of being on a receiving end of a visit from from the Maguires from Shameless.

Happily, I’m now allowed to tell everyone what I’ve been keeping shtum about for ages. Shameless, the excellent Channel 4 programme, will soon be introducing a deaf character played by a deaf actor!

The new character is called Danny, who is just 16. The intelligence I have is that in episode 7, to be shown on Tuesday 10th March, Danny will turn up in the boot of a car – and in true Shameless fashion crashes into the world of the Chatsworth Estate.

Well, I’m going to be glued to my set. Am very excited indeed. And from a campaigns point of view, it will be great for deaf young people to see deaf people on the telly.