BBC announces Cerrie Burnell as new Disability Ambassador

Cerrie Burnell is the BBC’s first Disability Ambassador and is joined by Creative Diversity Disability Lead, Kay Ashton MBE and Project Manager of Elevate, Nichola Garde. This specialist disability team, reporting to Miranda Wayland, Head of Creative Diversity, will develop, deliver and champion the BBC’s disability agenda as part of the broadcaster’s wider diversity strategy.

The BBC supports the progression of disabled talent through a number of initiatives such as BBC Elevate and The Writers Access Group, but disability continues to be the most underrepresented area of diversity across the industry.

Miranda Wayland, BBC Head of Creative Diversity, says: “I’m absolutely thrilled to have the wealth of knowledge and expertise that Cerrie, Kay and Nichola bring to the team. Their appointments mark a significant step forward in the BBC’s commitment to driving increased representation of disabled talent, both on and off-air.”

Actress, author and former CBeebies presenter Cerrie will work closely with commissioning and production teams over the next 12 months to champion authentic on-screen portrayal of disability. Earlier this year, Cerrie presented BBC Two documentary Silenced: The Hidden Story of Disabled Britain, part of a slate of content to mark the 25th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act.

Cerrie Burnell, BBC Disability Ambassador, says: “I’m beyond excited to be working with the BBC to elevate disability narratives so they become integral to all storytelling and groundbreaking content in a deeply authentic and enlightening way.”

Cerrie will be supporting Kay Ashton MBE, who leaves her role as Project Coordinator for the BBC’s Disabled Staff Network, BBC Ability, to join the Creative Diversity team.

Kay Ashton, BBC Creative Diversity Disability Lead, says: “I’ve lived with a disability all my life, so I know how important it is to see people with disabilities, and our lives, portrayed accurately and authentically.

“We must continue to reframe how we represent people with disabilities and if the BBC is to lead the industry in all areas of creative diversity then we must make tangible changes now. I’m excited to get to work.”

Nichola Garde completes the trio as project manager of BBC Elevate, an initiative to address the underrepresentation of disabled people working and progressing in production roles. The initiative provides opportunities to place candidates on flagship BBC shows such The One Show, The Wall, Ready Steady Cook, The Wheel and Would I Lie to You?

Nichola started her career in production at the BBC and rejoins the corporation from her role at Manchester University, where she delivered expertise in Disability and Communication.

Nichola Garde, Project Manager of BBC Elevate, says: “I’m delighted to be returning to the BBC in this role. I’m very much looking forward to working within Miranda’s team to ensure that we are promoting and supporting inclusivity and equity for disabled talent within the creative community.”

Cerrie, Kay and Nichola join the BBC’s Creative Diversity Unit, led by June Sarpong, the BBC’s first Director of Creative Diversity, and will work closely with Allan MacKillop, the BBC’s Diversity & Inclusion Disability Lead. Allan joined the corporation in January 2019, and is focussed on increasing the diversity of the BBC’s workforce.

The BBC set out its 50:20:12 workforce targets in September 2020, which will see the broadcaster employ 50 percent women; at least 20 percent black, Asian or minority ethnic staff; and at least 12 percent disabled people.

The targets will be achieved through the 2021-23 Diversity and Inclusion Plan, released earlier this year, which set out a number of commitments to improve access and opportunities for disabled people working at the BBC.

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