Stop the Shadows: Your Story

Jordan Hogg

Jordan Hogg

If the name Jordan Hogg doesn’t ring a bell we are pretty sure you are familiar with his work…The A Word? Ralph & Katie?

Those two BBC dramas following the lives of two young people living with Downs Syndrome are just a small chunk of the 70 plus hours Hogg is behind, no wonder he is a BAFTA-winning director.

Hogg, who has cerebral palsy, has also directed episodes of Channel 4’s Screw and Ackley Bridge as well as BBC’s Death in Paradise and Casualty.

To launch our brand new Your Story section Hogg wrote another masterpiece, this time specifically for you, our ABLE2UK readers.

Over the past few years witnessing such defining moments as MeToo & Black Lives Matter I’ve always felt a sense of pride at what we can do when we come together to unite for the common good. I often find myself wondering when, or even if, the disabled community will have our ‘hashtag’ moment? 

A lot of the traction with these movements were witnessed in our own home through our television sets. Television is the one defining tool that updates, infuriates, entertains & informs us. So it’s reassuring to see that after the MeToo & BLM movements there has been a much welcomed rise in female & people of colour with more prominent roles in our industry, but it’s still way short of where it should be. 

However, considerably more alarming is the lack of disabled people both in front of & behind the camera. You would think with TV being so present in our daily lives that there would be an equal demographic of people making the programmes that influence our lives.

I started my directing career thanks to 4Talent & their Diversity Production Training scheme which opened the mysteries door of the TV industry to people from diverse backgrounds. 

It was easily the best scheme around at the time & provided a fantastic base for myself & the 19 other trainees. I’ve been a professional TV director for almost 14 years since then & in that time working in high end drama I have never come face to face with another director with a disability, let alone a disabled DOP or designer, I really have no idea why! You’d think it would be paramount for people from unique backgrounds to be able to share their view of the world & tell stories from their point of view.

It wasn’t until late 2021 that I got a sense that things might be about to change for us. I read on Twitter that the BBC had green lit a new drama about a newly married couple who have Down Syndrome. I immediately emailed my agent to see if I could get on it, before he’d opened my email he called & said that the BBC have green lit a show about a newly married couple who have Down Syndrome & they’d love me to direct it. 

At that moment I absolutely knew that this was the one project that could be the catalyst for disabled people coming into our industry. When I came on board Ralph & Katie it was very apparent that a show with two learning disabled leads had never even been attempted before, let alone successfully completed. 

We had no idea what to expect, we knew we had to blaze a trail & the eyes of the whole industry we fixed upon us. Myself & the production were all veterans in the industry, but we knew that we had to throw the TV rule book out of the window and start from scratch.

Now, you might be forgiven that thinking that trying to achieve a groundbreaking drama like Ralph & Katie would be a huge logistical & financial challenge… IT WASN’T. I had the most wonderful human being beside me as producer (Jules Hussey) who ensured that this production leveled the playing field for everyone. 

We sat down with every single crew member and asked one simple question “what can we do to make your job easier?” that’s it. There’s no magic formula, no expensive pieces of equipment, all we did was use common & little bit of thought to make everyone’s life easier. 

We had a disabled person in every department & I made it clear to everyone that they’re along for the ride because they’re opinion is massively important to us & we’re here to show the world what can be achieved. 

Now, after what we achieved with Ralph & Katie I would hope that we not only pulled off a critically acclaimed drama, but also positively affected the lives of all the disabled cast & crew that worked on it. I said from day one that if Ralph & Katie got a second series I wouldn’t direct it, because we have to do everything we can to encourage move disabled talent in this industry. "

Every disabled child has a dream, we are in the business of making magic & dreams, who are we not to open our arms to every disabled kid that dreams of being part of our industry.”

[ Jordan Hogg won a BAFTA Breakthrough accolade in 2020. ]

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