Monday, 27 July 2009

Mindless ban

As some of you know, my sister Heather, who is 60, has had motor neurone disease for six years. She's remarkably stoical about this dreadful illness, which rapidly destroys normal functions like walking and speaking. She just battles on and enjoys whatever she's still able to do.

The Motor Neurone Disease Association, which provides all kinds of support to those with the illness, has just produced a TV advert to make people more aware of MND and encourage donations and offers of help.

But the body that monitors TV adverts (Clearcast) has inexplicably decided that the ad is too graphic and shocking to be shown on TV.

It's no more shocking than the drink-driving and speeding ads that are shown constantly. It's no more shocking than the grisly sequences of violence, bloodshed and carnage that appear regularly on the news and in films. Yet this faceless body has seen fit to ban it and prevent the MNDA from promoting its work and helping those struggling with desperate circumstances.

The MNDA is trying to get the ban reversed and persuade Clearcast that their decision is irrational and illogical. In the meantime the ad can still be shown in cinemas, where it's getting an excellent response.

It beats me what's so extreme about the ad. A woman collapsing on the floor? A woman confined to a wheelchair? A woman feeling isolated and shunned? A woman in her underwear? The only thing that's shocking is her loss of independence and disrupted life. Which is exactly what MND involves. So why the ban?

If you want to watch the ad, it's here.

NB: Photo is not my sister but a model


  1. I think it's important that even children have the opportunity to see how people who have disabilities cope.Banning adverts like the one you've mentioned only encourages disability discrimination.I hope the ban does get reversed.

  2. Dave - True, people need to be reminded of just how hard it is to cope with a serious disability, and how bad our society still is at helping those affected.

  3. Oh Nick, it's a very revealing advertisement but shouldn't be banned. What a great awareness campaign. I didn't know about your sister. People should be informed that once these were once fully functional individuals who still think, feel, care despite their outward appearance. Shameful that it was banned.

  4. Nick, if you get a minute or two would you read this and tell me what you think It's the start of a story based on a guy I knew who had just been diagnosed with MND.I'd be really interested to find out more about MND from people who have it.How they managed at the start and how they manage from day to day.Also how friends and relatives cope when the person is diagnosed.

  5. Baino - It's a very effective ad, isn't it? God knows why these idiots thought it was unacceptable on TV. And as you say, the body may be in decline but the mind is totally unaffected.

    Dave - Bit busy right now. Will respond later.

  6. But Nick, TV is the the world of 'Dumbdown'! We are supposed to live in a world of chocolate and fluffy puppies. Real living doesn't exist, there is no pain, illness and disease, it is in our imaginations.

    My two eldest cousins had MND and I know several families who live with the effects of this devastating illness on a daily basis. My heart goes out to them.

    A film advert like this one, should replace the mindblowingly hideous rubbish like Big Brother.

    I speak as a non TV owning/ watching old biddy.

  7. Grannymar - Sorry to hear you know so many people with MND, as it's a pretty rare disease (just 5000 in the UK). TV isn't all fluffy nonsense though, the ads about drink-driving and speeding are pretty gruesome. So what's the problem with this particular ad?

  8. Dave - A good story. I think the business of constantly dismissing your symptoms as something trivial until they get too serious to deny is pretty common. I'll ask my sister if she'd be willing to tell you more about coping with MND. Do you have an email address I can get back to you at?

  9. Thanks Nick. Email is

  10. Dave - Heather has seen your comment! I've sent her your email address so she can correspond with you direct if she wants.

  11. Wow. It's absolutely horrifying. I'm so sorry that Heather has to deal with this. She sounds like an incredibly brave woman who knows how to live more fully than most people without disabilities. We could all learn much from her.

    Pulling the ad is particularly stupid because the whole point of it is to demonstrate what the disease does, and to facilitate donating for research, etc.

  12. Heart - She's very brave, and also very determined to fight it every inch of the way. As you say, the whole point of the ad is to show what the disease does.

  13. Oh, the sanitization of anything that smacks of disability or disease. Total discrimination (and the ignorance of the masses kept intact).
    Your sister is a very brave woman and I hope she finds every scrap of support out there.
    I was reading here today of a public ferry that has no handicapped access and this wheelchair bound woman wasn't going to take being hauled on and off as cargo anymore. Apart from the danger she said the humiliation was so intense. She has started a campaign.
    We need more awareness, not less.

  14. www - There was an article in the London Independent yesterday saying that wheelchair users still have an awful time trying to get into shops, offices, vehicles, theatres etc. There are still new buildings and houses that make no provision whatever for disabled people.

  15. Nick, Heather sounds incredible, a very cool lady.

    That is a very graphic and effective ad--I know it certainly called my attention to something I knew nothing about before this evening.

    For adults, who would be the viewers of this anyway, this is profoundly illuminating, and I cannot understand the ban either.

  16. p.s. Brooklyn also has terrible disability accomodation. It's quite shameful.

  17. Leah - Glad you found it educational. I think most people would find it educational rather than shocking. The Brooklyn situation doesn't surprise me, it must be full of very old buildings that are tricky and expensive to adapt.