Rebecca Atkinson: Why I wrote the Christmas drama Tree Fairy for Deaf children

Posted on December 8, 2014



Tree Fairy, the BSL Zone’s children’s Christmas drama is airing this week on digital TV and can also be seen online (click here to see it). Here, writer Rebecca Atkinson explains what motivated her to write for Deaf children.

The media is a powerful thing. What we see on screen can shape how we feel about ourselves.

Back in 1983 I was watching Blue Peter on Children’s BBC, when I noticed something that made my heart race, skip a beat with joy. The presenter had a hearing aid! I shouted through for my mum to come, drop whatever she was doing and run. This was big news! There was someone like ME on the TV!

I had always wanted to be a TV presenter but believed that as a Deaf child with two hearing aids, I could never be one because up until that moment I had never seen anyone on the TV shows I watched who was like me.

My mum came running but calmly informed me that it was not a hearing aid I could see but a talk-back ear piece so the presenter could hear the director talking to her from the gallery.

It looked like a hearing aid though. There was a mould the same as mine, and a tube running from the mould over her ear. But the presenter wasn’t deaf. She wasn’t like me at all.

My heart sank.

The years passed and I grew up. I ended up working for Children’s BBC myself as an assistant producer and I never forgot the feeling of seeing someone I thought was like me on screen, even if it was for a short few moments before the bubble burst.

It was affirming. I was good enough. A deaf person like me could be on the TV too.

Fortunately things have changed a lot since then and there are more Deaf and disabled people on screen and portrayed in a more realistic and positive way, but there are still far fewer TV role models for Deaf children that I would hope, especially in drama.

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It was with this in mind, that I wrote Tree Fairy, a Christmas drama about a little deaf girl and a magical signing fairy who comes to life in the middle of the night.

Whilst I’ve written several drama’s for BSLBT, Tree Fairy is my favourite and the only one written for and starring children.

I love knowing that I have created a story that Deaf children can watch with their families in BSL and see a character (and the actor playing her) who is deaf like them.

I know that when I was seven, Tree Fairy would have delighted me.

Watch Tree Fairy by clicking here.

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