Christmas advert challenges retailers to showcase disabled talent

Video - Elaine Willcox with Melissa Johns and Andy Duffy at 53two

This is a Christmas Advert, heartwarming and beautiful, which is selling a powerful message to the big retailers.

It's the third year in a row that disabled creatives, led by two of our favourite actors, have come together to showcase their work and challenge advertisers to follow their lead.

They are now starting to see some progress but say much more needs to be done to better reflect society.

Every year, the festive period begins with the retail 'big guns' producing multi million pound Christmas ads, and they are more representative but there is still a distinct lack of disabled actors.

Winston Gayle is the co-star of the alternative Christmas ad Credit: DANC/TripleC

This year's ad features Sophie Potter who has Down Syndrome and is the muse for the play 'SOPHIE', to be performed in London in February.

In the ad, premiered at 53two Theatre, Sophie takes the lead role and isn't seen as the person being cared for - which is how TV roles for disabled characters are often portrayed.

Sophie Potter and a Christmas Fair poster when she gets the idea to help support someone else at Christmas Credit: DANC

The theme of this year's ad focuses on 'finding your voice' with disabled creatives on screen and part of the production team behind the camera.

This year, TripleC have once again team up with Manchester's new Arts Hub and Theatre space, 53two to produce the ads after Melissa Johns had a Twitter conversation about the lack of diversity on our screens.

This year's Christmas ad, had financial backing by ITV where Diversity and Inclusion are the broadcaster's key commitments both on and off screen.

'Time for Santa' was written by writer Andy Duffy who says the work of TripleC and 53two’s Christmas ad to promote inclusivity and diversity has 'literally changed my life.’

He pitched an ad that will pull on your heart strings whilst sprinkling a little bit of Christmas magic.

Amelia Eldred featured in last year's Christmas ad Credit: TripleC

Last year’s advert had hit over 100,000 thousand views by Christmas Day as people watched Amelia Eldred take on the role of a young disabled dancer, desperate to save Christmas for her dad.

Amelia Eldred starring in the second Christmas ad and coached by Melissa Johns Credit: TripleC

TripleC's mission is to drive up the role of Deaf and Disabled people in the arts.

It created the Disabled Artists Networking Community, (DANC) to work with the creative industries and disabled artists to increase representation and employment of disabled talent.

Its Creative Leads are Cherylee Houston, who plays Izzy Armstrong in Coronation Street and Melissa Johns from BBC’s LIFE, ITV’s Grantchester.

Melissa Johns and Cherylee Houston - Creative Leads challenging the arts and tv industry to include disabled talent

Simon Naylor, 53two Creative Director says 'this year some of the production team have a learning disability and this ad ensures inclusivity extends throughout.'

After a difficult period for the arts as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, 53two and TripleC say they hope to deliver some much-needed joy into people’s homes this Christmas and bring some unity and positivity to what we hope will be the first proper festive holiday time for two years.