Talent show with a difference shines a light on Tourette’sSeptember 18, 2012 - 7:00am
Tourette’s Syndrome is one of those afflictions that causes the rest of us to snigger up our sleeves when a sufferer involuntarily unleashes a volley of expletives in the most inappropriate place and way.
But a new four-part series currently going out on BBC3 sheds extraordinary new light on the problem and those who suffer from it – and it’s all dressed up as the sort of talent search that makes the entire output of Simon Cowell and his ilk seem like the charlatans they unquestionably are.
Tourette’s: Let Me Entertain You isn’t a talent show and it isn’t a medical show, but it’s a bit of both. It’s one man’s insight into a world we know so little about, but it’s not done in a technical or preachy way.
The scenario is this – BBC Radio 1 DJ Reggie Yates sets out to bring together a group of six young people diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome for a one-off live musical performance.
He first meets up with Ruth Ojadi, and initially he finds it very difficult to deal with her constant physical and verbal tics.
But seeing how people on the street react to Ruth, it’s quickly brought home to Reggie that living with Tourette’s is no easy task.
Ruth’s problems started when she was just 16, and by her early twenties the Tourette’s became unmanageable. She was forced to quit university where she was studying music and give up singing altogether.
But not alone has she now come to terms with her condition; Ruth, who also works for Tourettes Action, has no time or space in her life for those who cannot or will not understand her.
And we find a self-confident, intelligent young woman who still comes out with her string of expletives but who is comfortable among friends, who just laugh at her involuntary inappropriateness.
Eighteen-year-old student Greg Storey also has Tourette's – but bizarrely he doesn’t ‘tic’ when he skates or drums – but, as we saw in episode one, literally as soon as the skates come off he cannot control his movements. So he goes from an accomplished roller skater, performing stunts that you have to just marvel at, into a nervous wreck.
Greg was diagnosed with Tourette's at the age of six and has severe physical and verbal tics, and perhaps the most heartbreaking moments of the opening episode happens when Greg and his parents look at video footage of him as a young boy.
For more, read this week's Connacht Sentinel.