Now who doesn’t love The Last Leg? I have certainly watched it since it first aired alongside the stunning 2012 Paralympics – cue: Public Enemy’s ‘Harder Than You Think’! The year the wonderfully enlightened question arose; ‘if the Paralympians can do that then why can’t all disabled people?’ Umm the same reason the average able-bodied person cannot outrun Usain Bolt perhaps? Because he is an athlete? 🤔 It was so refreshing to identify with the presenters of The Last Leg with their non-apologetic personalities and sense of humour, and who just happened to be disabled too. It was a refreshing change from the usual portrayal of disabled people on TV ie: villains, somebody with a chip on their shoulder or what seems to be more the case now in the media, as chancers and benefit cheats. So on being allocated e-tickets for The Last Leg on Friday 18 March from SRO Audiences, a TV audience provider company, myself and my partner as huge fans of the show were over the moon.
Now I have sero positive Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), which is a chronic autoimmune progressive and degenerative condition. Basically my immune system is attacking my own body every second of the day. This chronic disease affects not just every bone, tendon and muscle but the function of the entire body including the eyes, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and brain. I have constant fevers and just to be clever my heart and brain also have an autoimmune communication whereby I spontaneously pass out and an ambulance needs to be called.
I am in constant pain and not surspisingly exhausted all the time from my body attacking itself. I can feel the weight of my own body so am essentially carrying around a 9 stone human rucksack every second of the day but to me it feels like a tonne. I can literally feel my bones grating together and the pull of gravity on my arms, legs, neck and back. I spend many a night feeling crushed by own body and excruciatingly slotting my knees back into their sockets when they come out. Thank fuck for skin is all I can say, otherwise I would have knee joints and pieces of hip and spine littering all over London.
This is just a brief summary of having RA, not for sympathy but for clarity of what every day entails along with a concoction of powerful intravenous biologic drugs, chemotherapy, strong painkillers, anti-inflammatories and various other fanciful drugs. But make no mistake I do not live my life in bubble wrap. I, like many people with chronic illnesses, actually love my life and live it to the fullest I can, whilst I can.
Back to The Last Leg, I duly let the show know of my condition as I obviously can’t stand in a queue and was told I have seats reserved. Yay! However as the day approached I became anxious about queuing as I read through the SRO Audiences access policy:
As you can see the access policy is confusing at best. What does this mean? I still have to queue? My reserved disabled seat can be released to an able-bodied person? I was getting anxious and relayed this during a FaceTime call to my one of my bffs Clare over in Australia. She urged me to contact the equally Australian, Adam Hills to check this policy was correct. (She also told me that she was going to marry him.) I digress. So to Adam Hills I tweeted and to my delight he replied straight away, took my name and said he would look into it. On the day of the show he tweeted me saying the door staff were expecting me. Little did I know it was to be more of a ‘we’ve been expecting you’ a la Bond villain stylee, rather than a ‘welcome, we’ve been expecting you!’
Myself and my partner who is also my carer planned a whole evening of it, a lovely dinner before making our way over to the ITV studios (show is screened on Ch4 but filmed at ITV). I had to stop off at The Royal Festival Hall on the way to rest before I could attempt the 5 minute walk to the ITV studios as I was in immense pain, exhausted and on the verge of passing out. I approached the door staff explaining that I had a disabled seat reserved for myself and one for my partner. The clipboard duo did not look impressed at all! Sorry about that Clipboarders but I assure you, a lifetime of having a serious chronic illness is slightly more inconvenient for me, than it is for you to scroll through your clipboard.
We were also of course lovingly greeted with mutterings of ‘queue jumping’ from people at the front of the queue who also afforded us their best filthiest looks and stares. One woman looked like her eyes had been replaced with actual daggers. You’d think Jimmy Savile reincarnated had turned up…and eaten the last purple Quality Street…and then left all the empty wrappers in the box. I do have a pair of gold leggings somewhere but I assure you that’s where the similarity stops.
Bearing in mind this is a queue to see The Last Leg… a show borne out of the Paralympics presented by hosts with varying disabilities. But maybe it’s different to this bunch if you are a disabled celebrity – that’s *almost* sexy right? Let’s face it Adam Hills yes, Alex Brooker yes, Josh Widdicombe….ok go on then. But plain old disabled just doesn’t cut it. The rest of us are merely an inconvenient bunch of queue jumping scroungers who should surely be out working a night shift if we are able to come and see an evening comedy show? Especially the ‘walking’ young(ish) disabled like me who are partial to a faux fur coat and shock horror wears MAC lipstick! To the queue mutterers, I know, I totally fuck with your comfortable stereotype of what a disabled person is.
Anyway Clipboard A and B conferred, ‘oh yes this is the one Lee told us about’ glancing at the clipboard, indicating that I was the only disabled request for that audience. Clipboard A said, ‘you’ve only got an e-ticket’ (the only ticket they had issued btw). He continued, ‘so yeah, we’ve given your seats away’ I explained I have a seat reserved for myself and my partner who is my carer. He said, ‘you’re too late, we’ve gave your seats away 10 minutes ago to other people’.
We had arrived at 8.45pm. The queue opens at 8.40pm. The SRO Audiences email states:
We were at the start of the time bracket of the queue line opening. They had given my seats away at 8.35pm that’s 5 mins before they opened the queue at 8.40pm! Furthermore out of all the seats in the studio they had decided to give the reserved disabled seats away to able-bodied people according to the clipboard. And there were clearly many other empty studio seats remaining as there was a queue full of people who were not being turned away and who clearly did not have priority tickets judging by their attitude to me ‘queue jumping’.
Clipboard A added that I can have a priority ticket emailed to me for an upcoming show (not necessarily The Last Leg). He makes it sound so easy, however none of this has been easy. Getting here started a month ago when I requested a reserved seat. Then the day before the show when I had to reschedule my chemotherapy so that I was marginally less nauseous than usual so that I could enjoy the evening as best I could. Getting here took me entire day to get ready and dressed in stages through the constant pain, exhaustion and taking medications. It also involved dealing with the nausea from yesterday’s gruelling chemotherapy which makes me feel like my entire body has been poisoned, which to be fair it has. Getting here involved me having to pit stop at the Royal Festival Hall due to terrible pain despite being just five minutes from the studio. And I am being asked to undertake this all again to come back to be greeted with this same shocking access policy?
Now Clipboard B who didn’t turn to face me the whole time (clearly I’m not worth the time of day in her little world) retorted over her shoulder, ‘and you will still have to queue with everyone else.’ My partner explained to the side of her head that I am disabled which was the whole point of reserving seats – because I cannot stand in the queue.
She replied flippantly, ‘well if you do come with someone who can’t queue up they can go and wait over there’, swatting limply with her hand to a random side of the ITV building, ‘but whoever is with them will have to queue up with everyone else’. Hmm firstly, “if you do come with someone..”? Hello! I’m (just about) standing right here! I am that ‘someone’. It was like she was in denial that I was certifiably disabled, as if she really wanted to say, ‘if you’re with a proper disabled person they can wait over there’ (followed by hand swat). Maybe she thought if she kept her back to me and didn’t make eye contact then I would disappear? And this is the problem, disabled people face everyday, we are treated like we are a problem that needs to go away.
My issue is not simply that I did not get in to watch The Last Leg. It is the treatment of which I received at the hands of the door staff and the access policy. The attitude of the door staff was dismissive and downright offensive. I was made to feel like a second-class citizen and I left in tears feeling demoralised and extremely traumatised. The ITV and/or SRO access policy is to split the disabled person from their carer. Is this anxiety and stress really necessary? I didn’t see them splitting up able-bodied couples in the queue. This is clearly an unethical, discriminatory policy towards disabled people. It is also quite frankly a shoddy door policy which causes time wasting and a shambles in the queue.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995, amendment 2005 and the 2010 Equality Act protect a disabled persons right to access to goods, services and facilities. Access policies are in place to give people with disabilities access to the same facilities as the able-bodied/ non-disabled. Also given that the person most likely can’t stand for long, access should be swift and most importantly with dignity. I certainly was not treated with dignity that night. The Clipboarders made the whole process very awkward and embarrassing drawing attention to my situation. Which in turn made the queue get involved with their sarcastic comments. What looked like the only disabled reserved seats should never have been given away considering there were plenty of empty seats left. Again this is a queue to see The Last Leg.
Seeing The Last Leg was to be one night of escapism from the daily struggle and worry of my degenerating illness as well as the overwhelming reality of disability cuts. The effect to disabled people across the country is crippling. Losing PIP and ESA entitlement is spiralling lives into uncertainty, plummeting below the bread line, with some losing their homes and ending up homeless. Which I suppose is handy for statistics, at least they’re off benefits. I assumed being in the audience at The Last Leg, I would be amongst like minded people on matters like this right? Maybe the presenters but certainly not the door staff or the audience members that I encountered.
Ironically these are the same people who were going to sit (in my seat) and laugh at all the disability related banter and cheer at jokes on Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation. Yet in the real world, they and the Clipboarders treated me no differently to how IDS and this government treat disabled people. You have sneered at me, intimidated and degraded me.
But don’t feel bad, us disabled experience this abuse daily when parked in blue badge bays or at airports where we require assistance. If only you knew just how much strength and energy it takes for us to shower in the morning or simply flip a light switch. We are being scrutinised and victimised every second of the day for actually making it out of the house and daring to go about our own business.
Over the last few years this government together with its sensationalist media on benefit scroungers have made us easy targets. Disability abuse is on the rise and the reign of horrific Atos assessments have taken place, coinciding with drastic cuts to mental health services and disability benefits. The poorest, most vulnerable people in society are being forced to pay for a deficit caused by the wealthiest in society. None of it makes sense. Tax evasion by the top 3% of companies could easily fill this deficit and they would not even flinch. And yet it is disabled people who are treated with contempt in society, this is sad. We are sad.🙁
I’m also sad because I missed out on seeing my weird man crush, Louis Theroux, who was special guest on The Last Leg that night.
I don’t expect to get an apology from ITV or SRO – disabled people rarely do when we complain. At best there is ‘no record’ of this treatment or we get a fobbed off with, ‘retraining the individual staff member’. However ITV and SRO Audiences your entire access policy needs revising, it causes unnecessary stress and intimidation. On second thoughts, actually an apology would be nice. After taking a week to write this because of back to back hospital appointments, injections, fevers, constant pain, exhaustion and scrawling with my deformed and painful hands, yes an apology would be nice at the least. The treatment I encountered at the ITV studios is just one small reflection of how disabled people are treated in society now. It is just ironic that the TV show was The Last Leg.
And I guess what I’m also saying is; sorry Clare, I never did get to inform Adam Hills that you are to be his wife. Although he seems to have a pretty awesome wife already who, like, sings opera and everything.
What happened next? See The Next Leg
I hear you. I suffer with Ulcerative Colitis, a disease of the bowel, which causes unnatural pain and embarrassing situations. When I need to acsess a toilet, I NEED it. I can’t stand in a queue or hold it. The pain is excruciating. God forbid I use a disabled toilet though. I’ve been met with hostile stares and comments even though disabled toilets are open to anybody as long as there are no disabled people waiting or in the area. I would also need to go through a lenghty process like this should I have to queue for a show or a club. 9/10 I don’t even bother as it causes too much distress and anxiety. We are expected to just deal with it or just not leave our homes at all to enjoy our lives. Sure, we’re a burden don’t you see! It’s shocking and utterly shameful and what makes it worse is the show is specifically about showing people how not to discriminate against those who are a bit different. Well done on writing this. It needs to be said and I hope this issue is addressed by the show and presenters.
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Thank you T, I know it’s a never ending battle – we can’t even to go to the bloody toilet in peace!! But then yeah what are we doing out of the house ‘enjoying’ ourselves anyway…?
Have either of you two had to go though the bloody 20 questions when you have gone to buy a new radar key?? Look I just wanted a new key because I have forgotten yet another one not a interrogation from someone wanting my full medical history.
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Have either of you two had to go through the bloody 20 questions when you have gone to buy a new radar key?? Look I just wanted a new key because I have forgotten yet another one not a interrogation from someone wanting my full medical history.
It’s ridiculous! I’ve never had to get a radar key Dee but I have gone through the experience of practically begging a shop assistant to allow me to use the staff toilets, all the while nearly doubled over in pain and sweating like a lunatic. When the pain sets in and I get the urge to go, it is literally exhausting. The anxiety sets in, I go all red and sweaty and nearly have a panic attack. I then have to ask to use a bathroom, if there are no public ones and have to tell them about my illness. I have a card that says that I have a medical condition but I still need to explain, I know some people who have been refused even though they have the card. It’s beyond a joke. People look at me like I have 10 heads because I look perfectly fine on the outside. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have RA, I have been lucky with my UC that it hasn’t affected my joints, I know so many who it happens too and they tell me the pain is unreal. You are warriors. Keep fighting the good fight!
I’m just so sorry you had to experience all of that. I would not like to be those door staff when Adam gets hold of them.
I have MS, and I *look* fine, but invisible pain is still pain. I’m so sorry – again – that it all went down like it did. I hope that Adam can make it right, because no, it is not ok.
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Thank you cookwitch1 as I said on Twitter I know it’s nothing to do with Adam, Alex or Josh. It’s the policy that needs changing and society’s attitude x
Such a pity you had such a bad experience with The Last Leg – I suffer from Ehlers-Danlos Hypermobility Syndrome (different illness, similar symptoms) and my BF went to see a filming a couple of years ago and the staff couldn’t have been more helpful
Hi I to have RA along with hypermobility which means along with the gruelling ordeal of arthritis my joint pop out of place willy nilly, I have been in your position not with the last leg but having to deal with people who see me as a scrounger with sod all wrong with me because they might see me on a good day walk from my car that is parked in a disabled spot, because a real disabled person might need it. What they They don’t see the strength it has taken me to even leave the house, it’s not like before when i was well i could just grab my bag and go, it’s now a well planned out a military operation of carefully timed medication and even getting dressed with help takes forever, don’t even talk to me about getting a shower lol. Like you i am having to deal with a invisible illness that the outside world cannot see, would they feel and treat us better if we were in wheelchairs ? or our illness be more visible? i have even got crap for going on a supermarket mobility scooter because i was unable to walk anymore because of the pain but i did not want my daughter to miss out on getting her treats, the looks and comments i heard from people where awful and i was on the verge of tears. I have also lost a lot of respect for the OAP’s because 7/10 it was them with the nasty comments in all different places and scenarios, they made me feel so small and worthless. I have on one occasion told my husband to move the car from a disabled parking bay to stop the abuse we received, people just stopped and watch as a torrent of insults was thrown at me just for trying to park in a spot i needed, but according to her she needed it more as she was old. The shocking thing was she didn’t even have a blue badge and i do, but she still insisted she had the right to park there and because i was young i should stop being lazy and just walk like a normal person and i had probably stolen the badge from someone. We need to make people aware of invisible illness so people like us can go out with our heads high without fear of abuse, we need to make the world understand that we are not faking our illness that we are not trying to get special treatment or more benefits we just want to live our lives and be happy.
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Hi Dee, ditto to everything you have said even the hypermobility! I have so many weird and wonderful autoimmune conditions but thought it best to focus on RA so ppl didn’t get too confused!
Blue badge – yes! And old ppl – yes wtf?? Can’t believe they tried to kick u out of a bay and they didn’t have a badge!! They are obviously benefit scroungers! 😉
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Same here, i have had so much stuff wrong with me the list would go on forever lol are we going to have a condition off ?? lol 🙂 I really could just go on forever about old people and how they treat us, are we just a easy target or are they really that nasty and the nice old lady thing is just a act ? If we had said and done the same things to them people would intervene not just stand around looking or even joining in with them when we are getting this massive attack of abuse, it really is double standards. I have even been kicked off a bus for refusing to move from my seat that was clearly marked for disabled use when i have had a brace my knee so could not bend it to sit in another seat and this old man did not want to sit in a free seat behind me. you could clearly see the brace and crutches but i was told by the driver to get off the bus for being disruptive and having no respect for my elders, i was 16 at the time and in a time with no mobile phones had to wait an hour before the next bus.
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Omg Dee that is just terrible i’m so sorry you experienced this and at such a young age too. Cannot believe you got chucked off the bus, what utter arseholes. And 16 is such a vulnerable age to be treated this way because of a chronic illness. It’s when you’re battling with your illness whilst watching your friends live carefree lives and seeing them do the things you can’t. Last thing you want is any attention drawn to your illness it’s an age where you just want to be ‘normal’. Thank goodness for today’s technology and social media that these experiences can now be aired and debated x
Sadly yes, often the “older generation are the rudest and discriminatory my husband and I have encountered. A recent cruise which we thought might be a good way of travelling taking into account my husbands disabilities was a real eye opener. Rude, selfish, obnoxious individuals who showed no compassion for others who were clearly disabled. I witnessed a middle aged lady in a wheelchair trying to access the lifts which were always full at certain times of the day. I would say mostly these were people quite able to use the stairs as I’d witnessed many of them freely making their way around both on and off the ship. After several “full lifts” coming and going I could contain myelf no longer and made a point of asking was no one willing to move to allow said lady lift access? I was met with blank stares and no one moved. Unbelievable! My husband who had left his wheelchair in the cabin and was on crutches was also standing there not one person offered to move. My husband then attempted the stairs, me walking in front in case he fell and the number of passengers who tutted and barged passed him was astonishing. I have never felt so ashamed of my fellow countrymen as I do today. I am 63 my husband 56 so we are not youngsters, but the majority of these people were older than we were.
The next elderly person who tries to complain to me about the younger generation having no respect I think I will punch them.
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And read them my blog Maggie 😉 I don’t have walking aids and get this treatment it’s terrible when it’s obvious and you do have visible aids that ppl still act like this!!
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I feel your pain, me and my partner booked some seats on ticketmaster for a show and specifically stated we needed seating, even going so far as to ring them and the venue directly to make sure we had seats as I have epilepsy and my partner has a degenerative bone disease and neither one of us wanted, or even could, stand in a crowd for several hours. The tickets came through as unreserved but they assured us we had reserved seating, we got to the show and spent the first half of the show standing in pain, blocked off by staff, looking at our own seats because “they are reserved seats”, we were allowed to get in our seats at last due to the obvious pain and discomfort my partner was in and my admitted unsteadiness (stress does nothing good for my epilepsy) only to be met with filthy looks and angry people complaining that we “turned up after” them and it should be a first come, first served basis. People only seem to acknowledge disability when it is visible I.E. wheelchair bound and even then it seems rather begrudgingly.
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Hi Mike what an absolute disgrace! But not surprise. There’s almost needs to be an access policy in law and not left up to individual venues. Because right now leaving it up to people who have no clue about the desperate need for disabled people to have swift access to shows etc just isn’t working! 😡
First read this the day after a days Rituximab treatment for my RA so I share your nausea and feeling like shit. Hope your night at ‘Your Mum’ is all you wish for and more
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Thank you Nigel, I know Rituximab well! My ridiculous body decided to have an anaphylactic reaction to it! 😕 Hope it is serving you well though? ‘Your Mum’ was a great show as always, however I was quite disappointed to production staff hostility when I suggested that the disabled access policy needs to be changed. And apparently I am the only person who has ever received such discrimination at an Open Mike Productions show! Next blog coming soon, please stay tuned! X
Appalled that a bad attitude to disability STILL exists
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That’s disgraceful! They need to take a leaf out of BBC Scotland’s book where I have been to a few recordings of Mrs Brown’s boys.
If you have a disability there’s a seating area in the foyer where they take your ticket then give you the wristband that allows access to the studios. Once it was time to get into the studio those who’re disabled, and their companions, were taken in to be seated first.
The last time we went I ran my mobility scooter into a pothole (or something like that) in the paved area in front of the entrance and it conked out. My friend went into the building and explained what happened so someone came out to help get it into the foyer & said “leave it with us and we’ll get an electrician to look at it”. I came back out of the recording and it was fixed!
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Sounds like BBC Scotland have it licked and how fantastic of them to fix your scooter!! What you experienced is what should happen across all venues, I couldn’t have put it better myself!
‘If you have a disability there’s a seating area in the foyer where they take your ticket then give you the wristband that allows access to the studios. Once it was time to get into the studio those who’re disabled, and their companions, were taken in to be seated first.’ Simples! 😊
[…] On my Last Legs to see The Last Leg […]
You are publicly making a complaint to the free ticketing company, the television studio, the production company and it’s presenters, for the other members of the audience beating you to the venue?
I have been to things like this before and know I may not get in if others beat me to it. Don’t publicy complain about it! You just come across like a child that didn’t get it’s party bag at the end of the party, as simply they had run out… Not because you have a disability.
I hope you got a signed autograph from the presenters for writing about how you were treated at their free TV recording.
Are you mental? Or just completely stupid? Maybe you just can’t read. I suggest you read the article again before making such a ridiculous comment because you are just coming across as an idiot.
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It’s nice to see your disability is not affecting you Liam.
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Liam it is worrying that you think standing up against discrimination is ‘childish’.
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[…] year since I was turned away from The Last Leg at the ITV Studios because they gave away my reserved disabled seats to able bodied people. Despite […]