The Last Leg's Alex Brooker talks importance of scrapping disability tokenism

·2-min read
Photo credit: Channel 4
Photo credit: Channel 4

The Last Leg star Alex Brooker has opened up about the importance of scrapping disability tokenism on television.

In an exclusive interview with Digital Spy, the comedian spoke about the importance of representation for disabled actors and characters on television in a prominent position.

"It doesn't have to feel like tokenism," he said. "I remember years ago, I used to watch EastEnders, and every now and again you'd see someone in a wheelchair in the background at the market and you'd go, 'Oh, there you go. There's one of us.'

"It's got a lot better now," said Brooker, but he added that things still have a way to go.

Photo credit: Joseph Okpako/Redferns
Photo credit: Joseph Okpako/Redferns

"I think that there's more of a push for disabled people to be on telly than ever before. It's definitely the best I've ever known it. But you don't want to rest on your laurels.

"You always want there to be more and I hope that over the coming years, our representation on screen will only increase.

"When we talk about diversity, sometimes I see things on Twitter about a panel on diversity or a think tank that's been created, and there aren't any disabled people in it, and I think we're left behind a little bit. But I definitely think things are getting better. They really are," he continued.

Photo credit: Brian J Ritchie - ELLEMEN
Photo credit: Brian J Ritchie - ELLEMEN

Brooker also said that he would like to see disabled people on telly in roles and storylines that don't revolve around their disability.

"Most of the time, my life isn't about that," he said. "When I get up and look after the kids, I never say, 'Oh Jesus Christ, I need to put on a leg.' It doesn't always have to be like that.

"It's what makes my life unique but in the future, that'd be massive. But also further afield, Hollywood, we don't even get to play ourselves these days, so that's a different ball game altogether. To see more disabled people in films would be incredible."

Photo credit: Ian Derry - Channel 4
Photo credit: Ian Derry - Channel 4

While he and his Last Leg co-hosts Adam Hills and Josh Widdecombe have not been able to attend the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games, Brooker has been involved with Virgin Media's #WeAreHere campaign to show athletes support while their families and audiences can't be there in person to support them.

He said: "We've not been able to go out to Tokyo as The Last Leg, but also for the athletes, their friends and families, they would have been there in the stadiums, supporting them in person, so we've been on social media doing a wave of support to show the athletes, like the hashtag says, we are here, we're thinking of them and we're backing them and cheering them."

The Last Leg airs Fridays at 10pm on Channel 4.

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