For those who are nostalgic for TV times past (like me), it’s sometimes easy to forget that the past wasn’t necessarily better – particularly for minority groups. Consider the deaf (assuming you’re not. Deaf that is). Time was that BSL signing on television was unheard of. It just didn’t happen.
The first exposure to it I remember getting was when one of my favourite early 80s bands, Red Box, appeared on Blue Peter to discuss the inclusion of a BSL signer in the video for their song ‘Lean On Me’.
Of course, when ‘For America’, their next song came out, no BSL signing was deemed necessary. Gimmick, maybe?
And apart from a new little show on Sunday afternoons called See Hear, that was about it for BSL for quite some time.
Nowadays, although we’re still not exactly talking global signing, the BBC has both signed versions of regular programming in its Sign Zone slot and original programming, too, including the now venerable See Hear.
You don’t have to stay up late set the video to watch signed programmes, since you can watch them on iPlayer, too. There’s even live signing on BBC News.
Like the BBC, Channel 4 has its own late night signing, as do E4 and Film4, and of course the recent Rio Paralympics was signed.
Other channels? Not so much.
Commercials are an interesting one. This recent one for Maltesers is something of a first.
Lovely, hey? But perhaps even lovelier is the signed version (yes, really), since it showed that enough people would recognise the BSL signer from the Rio Paralympics that he could be included in the ad. Not that he had a lot to do…