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Thursday, 20 January 2011

Kara Tointon: Don't Call Me Stupid (BBC Three)

Okay. So there is something that BBC Three does well. Easy-access, celeb-fronted, issues-based documentaries. A few weeks ago I wrote about Jeff Brazier and his brother and the wonderful documentary they made together about cerebral palsy. Now I want to talk about the next offering, Kara Tointon: Don't Call Me Stupid.

The ex-EastEnders beauty was diagnosed as dyslexic aged about six or seven. And since then she's struggled with "conventional" ways of learning to read and write. This documentary follows her as she takes a journey to find other, more effective, ways of getting her head around the words on the page and fulfilling one of her personal goals: Reading Harry Potter. Aided by friends and family - including younger sister, Inbetweeners actress Hannah Tointon (pictured below) and EastEnders co-star Ricky Groves - Kara sets out to confront her dyslexia once and for all. It's a heart-warming and incredibly informative piece of telly.

Seeing Kara outside her EastEnders trappings (I didn't see her on Strictly...) she is far more sensitive and lacking in confidence than you'd imagine she would be. Living for the time being with her family, this show also offers a little look at the methods she uses to learn her scripts for work and the ways in which her family cope with her situation.

If I'm totally honest the only reason I tuned in was because I like both Kara and Hannah, as actresses, and have never really seen either of them interviewed; I was interested to see what they were like when they weren't pretending to be someone else - and they are both very, very beautiful. 

I'm so glad I took the time to watch this show because the message it delivers is an important one: It's not that there's anything wrong with her, as such, just that she has needed to learn to manage words - as all dyslexics do - in a slightly different way to people who don't have it. There is a visit to a special boarding school for dyslexics which has a massive success rate when it comes to teaching their kids to get their heads around the building blocks of language. It offers a specialised and individually tailored set of techniques to improve spelling, arrangement and memory - which, for Kara, is one of the main problems she faces. She can read, but has difficulty retaining what she's absorbed in her short-term memory. 

I won't tell you where/how the doc unfolds, it's well worth a watch. It's up on iPlayer, here. Set yourself an hour aside and give it a go. If you like this sort of thing, or if you just have a spare hour or so kill, I'm sure you'll enjoy this; I was informed, educated and entertained - just what I want from my BBC. It's shocking it's happened on this channel of all of them, though. I feel a bit bad about slagging it off a while back now.