Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more


'How often do we see people with learning disabilities in a positive light in the media?'


‘The Undateables’ tells the story of nine people looking for love on air who have a range of condions, from Autism and Down’s syndrome to learning disabilities or physical impairments. 

Last week a colleague asked me my professional opinion as a learning disability student nurse. Did I see it as voyeurism?

I immediately started to rant about the show, mainly its negative portrayal of vulnerable people opening them up to ridicule and possible abuse. I also had major issues with the title of the programme and feel it is a classic example of negative labelling. I hadn’t realised that I felt so strongly about the programme until this discussion which prompted me to find out the opinions of other learning disability professionals.

Many people felt that the show has the potential to show people with disabilities in an incredibly positive light

The response from so many of my peers in favour of the show initially really shocked me as I was expecting much more negative feedback. 

Many people felt that the show has the potential to show people with disabilities in an incredibly positive light; by allowing members of society who have no experience of people with learning disabilities to see that in fact they can live meaningful lives with meaningful relationships. Other positive comments were that the show gives an explanation of conditions and how they affect a person; which in turn has the potential to educate society, enabling a better understanding and acceptance of people with learning disabilities.

These comments really helped me to revaluate the positive effect the show could have for people who live every day with extra challenges.  How often do we see people with learning disabilities or other challenges to everyday life in a positive light within the media?

One of my peers directed me to an article that one of the young people who stars in the show, Kate Brackeley, had written about her experience of being in the programme; she said she really enjoyed it and had been given amazing support at all times.

I realised that I needed to revisit the show as I had only watched one episode of the previous series; this had clouded my judgement and stopped me from really engaging with it from the participant’s point of view.

Watching the shows again, my opinion has shifted slightly. I still find the title offensive but have come to realise that it may be deliberately controversial to instigate debate, “Undateable” is the public perception which the programme seeks to challenge. The show itself is sensitively made and shows the strength and courage of people who although may have difficulties still want the same things in life as everybody does which includes love and companionship.

Since watching the show and listening to more experienced colleagues I have come to believe that the show is a positive move to raise awareness of learning disabilities and the people involved.

Michelle Parker is the student nurse editor for learning disabilities nursing. , I disagree with it giving the people involved a negative label.


Readers' comments (4)

  • I watched the first series and had the same concerns as you about the title. I thought the programme was really interesting and it was good to see this topic being documented but I don't think the title was too obviously tongue in cheek and can be easy misinterpreted

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I think you're being a bit precious with the titling of this piece - it is definitely coming across to me as tongue in cheek and probably says more about the attitude to those who would consider people facing these challenges as undateable.

    (An undateable former MH Nurse)

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • There is a programme on CBBC that deals with disabled people in a drama.

    It is a children's home called the Dumping Ground where they are dumped by social services as their parents can't look after them.

    Frank has cerebal palsey and he simply accepted for who he is.

    There was a child who had autism but he left two weeks ago.

    There is no sentimentality, no nastiness either. All the children behave like well children

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I must admit I haven't seen a lot of the undateables, but my reaction was the same. I don't like the programme and think its makes fun of people with Learning Dsiabilities therefore haven't watched any since.

    It's brilliant that the topic is out there and people are becomming more aware of people with learning disabilities but I can't get to grips with the programme at all.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.