Channel 4, starts Sun 25 Jul, 8.30pm. People with dyslexia are either stupid, lazy or criminal. Sometimes they are geniuses. Before you pick up the phone to arrange legal proceedings, or a blunt instrument to bludgeon the ignorance out of such a statement-maker, bear in mind that some of the above reactionary-sounding remarks are uttered in a new season of documentaries on the subject.
Some of the statements are the result of third party research, while others are very much still a part of public opinion. Amazingly, in schools in the late 19905, dyslexic pupils are often considered to be thick and some are told they are just plain slothful. How can this be in our supposedly enlightened age?
’lgnorance about dyslexia is still fairly prevalent in the UK,’ says Richard McKerrow. the series' commissioning editor, under whose mandate falls the channel’s educational programming. ’At Channel 4, we are constantly looking for new ways to tackle subjects, particularly those that are taboo, or that there is not much awareness of.’
This investigation into dyslexia and attitudes towards it is spread across three documentaries, ’Dyslexic Genius', ’Dyslexic Criminals’ and ’Dyslexic Children’. The shows are complemented by five short films about dyslexic students at Glasgow’s School Of Art, being shown nightly under the banner, ’Dyslexic Vision'.
’Dyslexic Children’ focuses on the Rigaut family. Twelve-year-old Guy is one of around 375,000 children in Britain who are dyslexic. Guy has an extremely high IQ (he’s in the top 2% of the population), but his teachers remained ignorant of this until Guy's parents had him privately tested.
In ’Dyslexic Criminals’, two specialists set out to prove
Lost weekend: Withnail & I
Reading between the lines: Dyslexia Season
that the condition is a largely misunderstood educational disability. Results of their tests, carried out at Polmont Young Offenders Institute near Edinburgh, provided an extreme example of this. Since the cameras left, Polmont has instigated changes in its attitude towards dyslexic inmates. ’What we aim for the series to do is change the perspective on dyslexia,’ explains McKerrow. ’We want to show it in a positive light.’
The opening programme in the series does just that. ’Dyslexic Genius’ looks at the rich and famous with dyslexia. Among those taking part are film-maker Guy Ritchie (director of Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels), actress Katrin Cartlidge (Naked), designer Terence Woodgate, computer game programmer Peter Molyneux and entrepreneur Richard Branson.
’Dyslexic Genius’ suggests that these VlPs aren't successful in spite of their dyslexia, but because of it. 'I do see things in a different way,’ says Ritchie. ’l have a clarity of vision.’ And, according to Branson, 'I will make decisions on personal experiences, gut feeling. You can awaken strengths that non-dyslexics don’t necessarily know exist or don’t use enough.’ (Miles Fielder)
and Reservoir Dogs.
The title Wit/mail Weekend is marginally deceptive as this is actually a three-night celebration of Bruce Robinson, a man who has arguahly failed to deliver on his early promise His script for The Killing l-‘re/cls gained an Ac aclerny Award nomination, which he followed With only three films and, last year, a novel, The Memories Of Thomas Pen/nan
The weekend features intervrews' with the likes of Adam and Joe, Andy Garcia and Davrd Puttnam who all try to explain the appeal of Bruce Robinson though it may he more easily summed up in the segment entitled 'l Demand To Have Some Boo/e', which reveals that the Wit/marl 8r / drinking game is possibly the quickest way to alcohol poisoning known to man.
The film's ultimate pleasure prohahly
PREVIEW Withnail Weekend Channel 4, starts Fri 30 Jul, 12.05am.
Thirteen years ago, yOung British screenwriter Bruce Robinson’s directorial debut, Withnail 81 / was released on an unsuspecting pUbllC. The film was well received both in
108 THE “ST 22 Jul—S Aug 1999
Britain and the US, hut not even he c0u|d have envrsagecl the cult which has been built around this hilariously intelligent comedy.
Voted Empire magazine’s second funniest comedy of all time, the film has become a student stalwart, adorning halls of residence Video shelves as frequently as Trainspotting
lies in the characters, not only do we get the ramshackle eponymous heroes, but the bonus of Richard Griffiths' over-excitable Uncle Monty, and degenerate doohie merchant Danny (Ralph Brown), the pioneer of that often attempted but rarely achieved smoke, the Carnberwell Carrot.
Celebrity sofa surfing. This issue: Vic Galloway from Radio 1 ’5 Session In Scotland
What is your favourite show?
Big Train a comedy sketc h show that was/is actually very funny
What do you eat/drink while watching TV?
Champagne and caviar Nothing else will do
When did you last cover your eyes at the box?
At a lac kie Chan filrn, whose name I can't recall, xixhen he fell off some tall htirlcling and landed on his knac kers
What causes a mild-mannered chap like yourself to shout at the telly? Any time Chris livans appears He's not talented, he’s not funny He's the Bruce Forsyth or' Noel Eclmonds for the next lvlillenriium re Satan'
When did you last weep real tears at the TV?
E 7' /t's A Vi/oriclerfrr/ life love
Story Oh, I don't lcnox'x' lclori't cry
at the telly I'm a man, godarnmitl
What is your very first TV memory? Bagpr/ss The chocolate hisc urt eprsocle Those mice taught ll‘.(‘ to lie and cheat They really were corr‘nlete chancers
Which South Parker or Simpson are you?
South Park is infantile, jllVf‘llllf‘ and pathetic l-lox'xever, I am prohahly Bart Simpson Doesn't sound very convrncing, does it?
Is there enough swearing on TV and who on God’s earth should be encouraged to curse more?
No, there isn't enough Well, not in the right places, anyway Newsreaders and weather forecasters should he encouraged to swear more just imagine it?
What show do you stay in/rush home from the pub/miss church for?
l rnrss church in order to see Songs Of Praise
Who would you like to see on MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch? Jerry Sadowit/ and Chris Evans
Session In Scotland, Radio 1, Thu, 8pm.