Charlie Swinbourne



I am an award-winning filmmaker, writing and directing dramas, comedies and documentaries with a difference – they’re made in sign language. Find out all about them here.

I am also a journalist, writing for publications such as the Guardian and BBC Online, and editing The Limping Chicken, my own news and opinion website.

Much of my work focuses on Deaf culture – drawing on my experiences as a Deaf person who grew up in a Deaf family, while also being part of the mainstream world.

I’ve appeared in the media discussing Deaf issues on  BBC Breakfast News, BBC World Service, BBC Trending,   Watchdog, BBC London, on the BBC Ouch podcast, the Abnormally Funny People Podcast, and on Radio 4.

DSC04533Writing and directing

I’ve written and directed a number of award-winning dramas and comedies featuring Deaf characters in sign language.

My latest production is Deaf Funny, the world’s first TV sketch show in sign language. Check out episode 1 here and episode 2 here.

Last year, I directed my first documentary, called Found, about Deaf people finding the Deaf world and I’ve just made a follow up about Deaf people who came here from abroad, called Found in the UK.

In 2014, I wrote and directed the half-hour comedy Four Deaf Yorkshiremen go to Blackpool which aired on Film 4.

The same year, I wrote and directed The Kiss, an award-winning 7 minute short which was selected for Bradford International Film Festival and has since won international awards.

I also wrote the award-winning half-hour dramas My Song (2011) and Departure Lounge (2009) for the BSL Zone,  the UK Film Council funded Hands Solo (2009) mini series The Fingerspellers (2010) and two shorts that gained over 200,000 views each on YouTube: Coming Out (which won an ITV Writers award in 2008) and my directing debut, Four Deaf Yorkshiremen (2007).


I am the Editor of the world’s most popular Deaf blog,  The Limping Chicken (where I broke the worldwide story of the ‘fake interpreter’).

I’ve written for the Guardian, the Mirror and BBC Ouch, and I’ve appeared on  BBC Breakfast News, BBC World Service, BBC Trending and on Radio 4.

Article for BBC News: Viewpoint: Why is IS featuring deaf people in a video?

Read my latest article here: Extract:

There are many headlines expressing concern about young British people leaving this country to join the so-called Islamic State. But now Islamic State (IS) militants are targeting a new group of potential recruits in the west – deaf people. In a video, which is reported to have been released last Sunday, two deaf IS fighters who communicate in sign language were shown appealing for other deaf people to join them. The video features what may be an Arabic form of sign language – it is not British or American Sign Language but may be a form of International Sign. It includes subtitles in both English and Arabic. It looks professionally made, and shows the two men directing traffic while heavily armed with guns. It is from the Nineveh Province, which is under IS control. It also includes footage from the city of Mosul.

Article for the Guardian: Why soaps can’t compete with Facebook for continuing drama


Recently I’ve watched three compelling narratives, each involving some of my favourite characters, play themselves out. Amanda realised her boyfriend was cheating on her and threw him out. Emma and Steve were joyous at the safe arrival of their baby son after Emma was rushed to hospital with pre-eclampsia. Barry was gutted when he lost the chance of a job interview because he asked the company to pay his travel expenses.

It’s a blend of stories that sounds like it could come from a TV soap opera, but you won’t recognise them from last week’s TV schedules. These storylines and people are real – although the names have been changed – and I followed the ever-evolving twists and turns of their lives on my Facebook timeline.

Read the whole article here:

My article for the Guardian: Disabled people aren’t here to inspire you

Here’s my latest article, for the Guardian:

Advertising agencies don’t miss a trick. In the run-up to the 2014 Super Bowl, an advert from Duracell that featured a deaf NFL footballer called Derrick Coleman went viral. Coleman narrated it himself, saying: “They gave up on me, told me I should quit. But I’ve been deaf since I was three, so I didn’t listen.”

That trend’s been followed up this year, with two adverts being aired during the Super Bowl featuring disabilities. One, featuring a six-year old boy called Braylon O’Neill, shows how, with the help of Microsoft technology, he can use prostheses to walk. The other shows Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy, who also uses prosthetics, gliding across the snow to promote a car company. Both adverts have prompted a debate on “inspiration porn”.

To read the full article, click here:

Check out The Limping Chicken – offering news, features and opinion on deaf news, issues and culture!

Hi all, I’ve set up a new website called The Limping Chicken, offering news, features and opinion on deaf news, issues and culture in the UK.

This means that a fair bit of my writing will migrate to the new site, so if you’re subscribed here, subscribe to The Limping Chicken to keep getting my regular posts!

You’ll get more too. The aim of the new site is to feature more deaf writers, with varied perspectives and opinions we can all agree or disagree with. So keep an eye on it!

To read the first few posts, just click here. To read about the aims of the site, go to this page.
Enjoy! And do get involved if you can, we welcome new contributors! If you have a story, a point of view or just an idea, email