Call the Midwife to tell the story of disabled lovers who are forced apart after woman becomes pregnant
- Disabilities charities have welcomed the plotline
- The episode, which will be aired next Sunday night
- It will feature pregnant Downs Syndrome sufferer Sally Harper and cerebral palsy victim Jacob Milligan
- After falling in love and becoming pregnant, Sally is separated from Colin
By Laura Cox
PUBLISHED: 17:49 GMT, 9 February 2014 | UPDATED: 01:52 GMT, 10 February 2014
It is a controversial topic and one that may make for uncomfortable viewing.
BBC drama Call The Midwife is to tell the story of a pair of disabled lovers forced apart and ridiculed after the woman becomes pregnant.
Disability charities yesterday welcomed the plotline, saying it highlights how far society has come since the judgmental 1950s in which the programme is set.
The episode, which will be aired next Sunday night, will feature pregnant Downs Syndrome sufferer Sally Harper and cerebral palsy victim Jacob Milligan
The episode, which is to be aired on Sunday night, will feature the characters of Sally Harper, who has Down’s syndrome, and Jacob Milligan, who has cerebral palsy.
The pair live in an institution, having been sent there by their parents – as was common at the time.
But after they fall in love and Sally becomes pregnant, the couple are separated and Sally faces ridicule from her mother and father.
The episode deals with the prejudice and stigma she would have experienced.
Call The Midwife is shown on BBC One before the nine o’clock watershed, and in the past storylines featuring abortion, incest and infidelity have shocked viewers. But yesterday campaigners welcomed the inclusion of disability and love as a theme.
The character of Sally is played by Sarah Gordy, and Jacob by Colin Young. Both actors have the disability that they portray on screen.
Forced apart: Mrs Harper played by Debra Gillett and Sally Harper played Sarah Gordy in the episode of Call the Midwife
Mr Young has called for more TV programmes to deal with the issue, saying: ‘You don’t see much in the media about people with disabilities and relationships. Having a relationship with cerebral palsy isn’t easy. I’d like to find a partner and have a family of my own one day.
‘My relationships have mostly been with other disabled people because I’ve found there’s often a kind of mutual understanding of life,’ he added.
‘Heidi told me she wanted to write this episode for a long time,’ he said of writer Heidi Thomas, whose brother David had Down’s syndrome and died at the age of 15. ‘She wanted to express the difficulty of disabled people wanting to find love. I would say attitudes are similar towards sex now.’
Call The Midwife is not the first drama to try to tackle the theme of relationships and disability.
Cynthia Miller played by Bryony Hannah, Sally Harper played by Sarah Gordy and Chummy played by Miranda Hart
In 2012 The Sessions, a film starring John Hawkes and Helen Hunt, told the story of a sex surrogate hired by a man who had been left paralysed by polio.
And the issue of disabled people being assisted to have sex divided opinion in 2010 – when it emerged that a government scheme was going to pay for a man with learning disabilities to visit a prostitute in Amsterdam.
Last night a spokesman for disabilities charity Scope said: ‘It’s great to see two disabled actors taking centre stage in a well-loved drama like Call The Midwife. The storyline also highlights just how far we have come since the 1950s.
‘However, many disabled people continue to experience prejudice today, and face scrutiny over personal decisions that they make, like sexual relationships or starting a family.
‘Hopefully as we see more disabled actors and storylines on TV and in the media, people will become more comfortable and accepting of disability.’