Channel 4's disabled presenting line-up for Winter Paralympics is ‘global first'
The presenting team for Channel 4’s coverage of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games will be made up entirely of disabled presenters and pundits in what the broadcaster says is a “global first” for a “world class sporting event”.
The broadcaster has exclusive broadcast rights within the UK for the event. It will host more than 80 hours of Paralympics coverage around the clock from China on free-to-air television, with content also streaming on its YouTube channel.
A daily highlights show will be fronted by sports presenter and wheelchair basketballer Ade Adepitan, with quadriplegic former professional rugby player Ed Jackson and Paralympic champion triathlete Lauren Steadman hosting the breakfast show.
Former Strictly Come Dancing star Steadman won gold at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics and also took home a silver at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio.
The presenting and punditry line-up also includes Paralympic swimmer Ellie Robinson, who will be joined by double amputee racing driver Billy Monger to be on-screen reporters, while Winter Paralympic sitskier Sean Rose will be a pundit.
Robinson, who aged 15 won gold and bronze at the Rio Games, announced last year that she was retiring from competitive swimming.
The broadcaster’s overnight sports coverage will be lead by Tokyo 2020 presenter Arthur Williams.
Ian Katz, director of programmes at Channel 4, said: “Channel 4 is incredibly proud to announce a stellar presenting team and – in a first for any broadcaster around the world – an entire presenting team who are disabled.
“This is testament to the brilliant disabled presenting talent we have in the UK and underlines our commitment to providing opportunities and for people with disabilities and making our output truly representative of the entire population.
“We are looking forward to once again bringing a global audience to the Paralympic Games and are proud of what we have achieved since London 2012, shifting perceptions of disabled people and bringing world-class sporting drama to our viewers through our significant investment in coverage and award-winning marketing campaigns.
“We will bring the best coverage possible to the British public, live from China, so we can all get behind ParalympicsGB and celebrate their success in Beijing.”
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said: “This all-star disabled presenting team is world-leading and it is a momentous milestone for the UK, displaying pleasing progress on disability representation in broadcasting.
“Coverage of Paralympic Games is always an inspiring reminder that we should be judged by what we can do, rather than what we cannot. The Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games presented by this impressive line-up brings that home more than ever, helping us change perceptions of disabled people across the UK.
“I know ParalympicsGB will do us proud and I look forward to watching their endeavours along with millions of people in homes around the country.”
Andrew Parsons, president of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), added: “When I heard that all of Channel 4’s presenting team at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games will be persons with disabilities, I was stunned, but not surprised because they are a world-leading organisation in disability inclusion.
“The IPC has been working on the Paralympic Games with Channel 4 since 2012 and at every Games they have improved the broadcast landscape on Para sports.
“They are exactly what public sector broadcasting is all about, having the bravery to say: ‘We will be the first to do that’. And this latest landmark decision is important because representation matters.
“There are over 15% of persons in Great Britain with a disability and they should be able to switch on a TV and see wonderfully ordinary persons with disabilities like them in front of the camera. This is change starting with sport.”
Channel 4’s announcement was welcomed as “a fantastic move” by disability equality charity Scope.
Executive director James Taylor said: “This is a fantastic move by Channel 4, which shows their commitment to using the Paralympics to improve the representation of disabled people on screen, and shift attitudes towards disability.
“Seeing disabled people on screen helps improve understanding of disability, and break down barriers.
“However there’s still a long way to go until disabled people are equally represented on screen, so we hope other broadcasters will take Channel 4’s lead.”
The broadcaster will also carry live subtitles with highlights shows on repeat on More4 featuring audio descriptions.
The Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games take place from March 4-13.