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Your Views: Is Shortland St handling this issue well?

The addition of Tourette's sufferer Angus Phelps to Shortland Street last week has seen some colourful language pepper the television soap's script, but not everyone has been amused.

This forum debate has now closed. Here is a selection of your views on the topic.

So long as the syndrome or disability has been well researched and is portrayed in a realistic storyline then I have no problem with syndromes or disabilities that people live with day-to-day being portrayed in a soap. If anything it can be a positive thing if the storyline is well written to create better awareness of the condition or disability.

If you really want an idea of tourettes, I recommend the BBC documentary "Teenage Tourettes camp". Shows you young people with the physical tics, how they cope day to day, and shows difficult the lives of teenagers with tourettes really are.

Donna Brown
I think that the writers of a show such as Shorty St have a responsibility to portray the likes of Tourettes syndrome (or any other disability) with maturity and empathy. Focussing in on something like the swearing component, is making it harder for people with Tourettes to be accepted into society, as it gives the general public an inaccurate and pre-conceived view of what to expect.

If statistically 1:10 (or less) sufferers of Tourettes are going to exhibit some form of swearing, then surely the emphasis should have been put on the tics? The focus on swearing has only served to sensationalise the character and provide entertainment. Whereas, there was a wonderful opportunity here to educate the public a little without the stigmatism associated with what they have done. The actor portraying this character would have done better to have met with a Tourettes sufferer to really understand what it is like to live with this condition, than watching videos that are obviously edited for maximum sensationalism, as you see on most TV shows (even some documentaries). I think he is doing a wonderful job however, of portraying the tics and the explanation he gave of the condition was great.
I do not watch Shortland Street and only watched the Thursday night episode to see how this new character was portrayed. What I saw, has confirmed to me why I dont watch shows like that and the interview with the writer or producer in the article, came across as quite defensive, which was an unnecessary stance to take, when you consider that Jackie Brown had not attacked them in any way and had in fact praised the actor for doing his best at portraying his character.

Shortland St needs to be canned. Terrible script and terrible acting. Let alone "try hard" topics and issues. Have they no imagination ?

Marilyn Manning
Shortland Street is one small platform educating society about differences. I am all for the inclusion of characters with disabilities. If we do not also have characters such as those with a disability, we are treating them as not being part of society. We are also not going to understand their needs. Shortland Street has provided the opportunity for society to learn about a condition. They have created a character with pride that stands in front of a class of new peers and shows great self-respect and self-acceptance when explaining his condition. Society in turn can have understanding and acceptance. As well as educating society it provides a great role model for others dealing with social acceptance while trying to find their place in the world. The character is one person with his own set of compulsive behaviours. People with any form of disability are individuals, just as so called "normal" people are. As no two are the same in terms of their disability, personality and their life experiences they will behave differently. To expect them all to be portrayed as the same is surely labelling. The woman who complained should be grateful that her son does not also have the compulsive swearing behaviour. Unless society is educated that type of behaviour puts the person at huge risk and limits their opportunites in life.

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