TV and Film

Deaf Funny 3&4Quick links to the programmes and films I wrote and directed, with more detailed information below.
Click on their titles to see the films/programmes.
NB. A star* denotes films and programmes I wrote but were directed by very talented Deaf directors.


Deaf Funny Episode 4 (2018) 28 mins
Deaf Funny Episode 3 (2018) 28 mins
Deaf Funny Episode 2 (2017) 28 mins
Deaf Funny Episode 1 (2017) 28 mins (RTS Yorkshire Writer Award)
Four Deaf Yorkshiremen go to Blackpool (2014) 28 mins
The Kiss (2013) 7 mins (70,000 views on YouTube)
Hands Solo* (2010) 15 mins (50,000 views on YouTube)
The Fingerspellers* (2010) 8 x 5mins
Four Deaf Yorkshiremen (2008) (200,000 views on YouTube)
Coming Out* (2007) (225,000 views on YouTube)


Found at the Deaf Club (2018) 28 mins
Found in Sport (2018) 28 mins
Found in Love (2016) 28 mins
Found in the UK (2016) 28 mins
Found (2015) 28 mins

My Song* (2011) 28 mins
Departure Lounge* (2009)

THE TEST (SignHealth) (2018)

18517954_10154354728337260_5376041155601368941_oDeaf Funny Episode 1 and Episode 2 (2017) WINNER: RTS Yorkshire Writer Award 2018

Watch the Behind the Scenes film here.
(Juggle Productions/BSL Zone)
28 mins, 2017, 
Film 4/Community Channel
The world’s first sign language comedy sketch show for television. This programme stars 8 Deaf actors and comedians in the guise of a number of characters. The sketches and characters are drawn from Deaf life and popular culture, including a football manager, a fitness instructor, a Cowboy Interpreter, a Deaf spy, and many more.
Actors: John Smith, Matt Kirby, Jean St Clair, Deepa Shastri, Nadeem Islam, Rebecca Withey, Adam Bassett, Fifi Garfield, Sue Mitchell and Ben Green.
Festival screenings: 
Deaffest 2017, CineDeaf (Rome) 2017, Festival De Silencio (Milan) 2018.
Awards: Royal Television Society Yorkshire, Writer, 2018. Best film/fiction, CineDeaf Film Festival (Rome, Italy) 2017. The judges said: “A work full of elements that concern Deaf Culture and authors have been able to make really visible and ironically understandable for the whole international community. It is hoped that elements will be used by young directors of the future and lay the foundations of a new Deaf Comedy


Found in Love (2016)
(Juggle Productions/BSL Zone)
28 mins, 2016, 
Film 4/Community Channel
In the latest in the Found series of documentaries, three Deaf people explain how falling in love led to finding a new way of life in the Deaf community.
Festival screenings: Together Film Festival (London) 2016

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 16.32.25Found in the UK
(Juggle Productions/BSL Zone)
28 mins, 2016, Film 4/Community Channel
Three Deaf people tell their personal stories about coming to the UK and discovering their Deaf identity and a new community in the UK.
Festival screenings: Together Film Festival (London) 2016.

found_800x450Found (2015)
(Juggle Productions/BSL Zone)
28 mins, 2015, Film 4/Community Channel
Three Deaf people tell their personal stories about their Deaf identity, the day they first discovered sign language and with it, a whole new community.
Behind the scenes film (made by Fifi Garfield)
Awards: Award of Merit, Documentary Short, Accolade Film Festival, 2016.
Festival screenings: Ilkley Literature Festival 2015, New Zealand Deaf Short Film Festival 2015, Together Disability Film Festival (London) 2015, Picture This Disability Film Festival 2016 (Canada), Argentina International Deaf Cinema Festival 2016.

28 mins
BSLBT/Mutt & Jeff Pictures
Film 4/Community Channel
Four grumpy old Deaf men travel to Blackpool for an annual Deaf event. But when they meet a group of young Deaf men, things start to go wrong. Can the old and young men find a way to get on?
Producer/Mentor: Louis Neethling
Actors: John Smith, Matt Kirby, Jonathan Reid, Ilan Dwek, Matthew Gurney, Adam Bassett, Sean Richards, Ali Briggs, Rachel Shenton 
Behind the scenes film (made by Fifi Garfield)
Screenings: Deaffest 2014, Irish Deaf Film Festival 2014, Together! Disability Festival 2014, Ilkley Literature Festival 2014, European Film Festival Integration You and Me 2015
Awards: Best Film & Best Director, Basque Region Festival of Sign Languages, 2015

Screen shot 2013-12-02 at 11.40.28THE KISS* (2013)
7 mins
Self-funded, supported by Dada South
Premiered at Bradford International Film Festival, March 2014
When a couple meeting in a cafe on their first date start talking to the couple on the next table, they find that some things can only be said with a kiss.
Actors: Matt Kirby, Deepa Shastri, Ben Rufus Green, Chloe Gilgallon
Awards: Best Film & Best scriptwriter, Basque Region Festival of Sign Languages, 2014
Screenings: Bradford International Film Festival 2014, Shuffle Festival (London) 2014, Ilkley Literature Festival 2014, The Other Film Festival 2014, The Irish Deaf Film Festival 2014, MINCASOR Deaf Film Festival 2015 (Madrid), 30th Biennal of Theatre and Film for Deaf people 2015 (Barcelona), ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival 2015 (New York), Ankara Accessible Film Festival 2015 (Turkey), Picture This Film Festival 2015 (Calgary, Canada), Bosifest 2015 (Serbia), Cinedeaf 2015 (Rome), Deaffest 2015 (UK, Nominated for Best British Film), BBC See Hear Sign Language Weekend 2015, Deaf Week (Germany) 2015, Hong Kong International Deaf Film Festival 2016, Dov Film Festival (Sweden) 2016, Bristol Encounters Film Festival 2016, Cork International Film Festival 2016, Glasgow Short Film Festival.
Reviews: 7 things you’ll love about The Kiss (by the Silent Grapevine)

MY SONG (2011)
24 mins
C&B Films / BSLBT, Film 4/Community Channel
A coming of age story which follows Ellen, a young deaf girl stuck in the middle of the deaf and hearing worlds. Feeling as though she doesn’t fit in, Ellen learns sign language, attempting to enter the deaf world by taking part in a sign song competition in London. However Ellen is about to find her journey more difficult than she first thought. Funded by the British Sign Language Trust (BSLBT), My Song is thought-provoking and reveals a hidden truth about the deaf community in Britain today.
My Song premiered on the Community Channel and Film Four (on UK digital TV) on 23rd May 2011. It can be seen in full online at
Director: William Mager
Actors: Lara Steward, Cassie Raine, Daryl Jackson, David Hay, Will Dunn, Linda Richards

Awards: Best short film, Deaf in the Picture (Amsterdam) 2011, Best actress, Clin d’Oeil (Reims, France) 2011, Shown at Brighton International Festival 2011, Adelaide Film Festival (Australia) 2015.
Reviews: DaDa South, ITV SignPost, D-PAN Interview, I look so I can hear (blog),

HANDS SOLO (2010, cert: 15)
1 x 15 mins
UK Film Council/104 Films
Released theatrically across the UK as part of the Magic Hour, Hands Solo is a mockumentary about a deaf man with a very special, yet controversial talent (or should that be “salad?”) at his fingertips. Hands, a 30 year old deaf man, is admired by men and loved by women for his work in adult classics such as ‘The Wristler,’ ‘The Empire Signs Back’ and ‘Glove of the Dragon.’ But when he sends his co-star into a coma, he is forced to confront his life choices… the film was described by Sight and Sound as “a solid if typically silly contribution to the great British mockumentary tradition.” (watch in full here – please be advised the film is not explicit but is very rude indeed. You can also see a special bonus film about Hands’ Mum and Dad, here.)
Director: William Mager
Matt Kirby, Nicola Stapleton, Deepa Shastri, Ben Green, Chris Curran
Awards: Best short film, World Deaf Cinema Awards (Washington DC) 2010; Audience Award, DC Fest 2010, Best special effects, Clin d’Oeil Rheims (France) 2011

Reviews: Holy Moly, Short of the Week, Short of the Week interview with director William Mager about making the film

8 x 5mins
BSLBT/Remark ProductionFilm 4/Community Channel
Comedy mini-series about a family of 1940s deaf gangsters. With DeafFather growing older, can Sonny protect the family from the growing menace of the Opera family? Starring the great and the good of the deaf acting world, the series – directed by award winning deaf director William Mager – premiered in March 2010 on the Community Channel and on You Tube. A 30 minute version was released later that year.
Director: William Mager
Actors: Ilan Dwek, Rebecca-Anne Withey,
Matt Kirby, Stephen Collins, Matthew Guerney, Diana Martin, David Hirshman

DEPARTURE LOUNGE (2009) 1 x 30 mins
BSLBT/Mutt and Jeff PicturesFilm 4/Community Channel
‘Departure Lounge’ is about two deaf men who become friends in hospital, one a terminally ill pensioner, the other a disillusioned teenage porter. At different stages of their life, their friendship gives them hope for the future when they consider the possibility of a “deaf heaven.”
Director: Louis Neethling
Actors: Hal Draper, David Sands, Abi Gorman, Patsy Palmer
Awards: Merit Award, SuperFest – Berkeley, California, USA (2011), Best Film of Festival, Deaffest Film Festival – Wolverhampton, UK (2010), Best Short Film, Ippocampus Ciak – Milan, Italy (2010), Audience Choice Award, Ippocampus Ciak – Milan, Italy (2010)

2 x 10 mins
Supported byRemark Production
Filmed in one afternoon for £100, my directing debut clocked up over 130,000 views on YouTube. Four grumpy deaf men argue about their deaf childhood – and soon a waterlogged roof, a frozen little finger and a mould-ridden loaf of bread come to life in their hands! The film was followed by a sequelthe following year.
Actors: John Smith, Matt Kirby, Ilan Dwek, Jonathan Reid

1 x 6 mins
BDA/Mutt and Jeff Pictures
A boy goes to his mother with a compelling secret. Will she understand? A quirky comedy, ‘Coming Out’ premiered at the London Deaf Film Festival and was later shown on BBC2, clocking up over 200,000 views on YouTube. The film won numerous awards around the world and an ITV Writers Award at the 2007 DaDa festival – the prize being three weeks with the Coronation Street story team.
“I thought you were just being artistic…”
Director: Louis Neethling
Actors: David Hay, Debbie Norman, Ilan Dwek
Awards: ITV Best Scriptwriter, DaDa Awards – ITV (2007), Best Film, Deaffest Film Festival – Wolverhampton, UK (2007),
Best International Film, Finnish Sign Language Film Festival – Helsinki, Finland (2007), Best Film, Clin d’ Oeil Festival – Reims, France (2007)

Charity and promotional work

The Test 1THE TEST (SignHealth) (2018)
7 mins
Eyewitness Media 
This short film for Deaf charity SignHealth gives information about sexual health and HIV to young Deaf people.
Produced, Written, Directed and Edited by Charlie Swinbourne.
Actors: Daryl Jackson, Nadeem Islam, Mia Ward

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 10.51.07NSPCC UNDERWEAR RULE VIDEO (2015)
7 mins
NSPCC / Liverpool Street Productions
This video communicates the NSPCC’s Underwear Rule to deaf children through two scenarios, performed in BSL by deaf and hearing actors.
Director: Bim Ajadi
Actors: Matt Kirby, Alex Nowak, Sophie Allen
Click here to see the reaction to the video on Facebook.

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 14.34.10Small World Profile Clips (BSL Zone)
6 x 3-6 mins, 2015
I directed these six clips  which were released just before the broadcast of four new episodes of this sitcom. The clips gave the audience a chance to meet the five main actors in Small World, as well as watch a clip explaining how it is written in BSL, featuring the creators and director of the series.
Watch the clips on one page by clicking here.

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 16.21.34Small World: Behind the Scenes (BSL Zone)
6 mins, 2014
Find out all about the making of the world’s first Deaf sitcom, performed in BSL, in this short film, which I self-shot and edited to a musical soundrack. We see the actors and crew in rehearsals and filming on set, where they talk about improvising the script.
Watch this film by clicking here.

And other other work…

I have worked for the BBC, Channel 4 and the British Sign Language Broadcasting Trust, as well as making programmes for production companies Juggle Productions,  Mutt & Jeff Pictures and Flashing Lights Media.

In 2010, I was scriptwriter/producer for the BSL Zone’s first series of Wicked, writing presenters links and researching elements of the show (made by Flashing Lights Media).

From 2006-2007 I worked as a researcher for the BBC’s See Hear programme, self-shooting VTs for broadcast on BBC2.

Other researching credits include the BBC3 series Freaky Eaters and Spendaholics, (2006) as well as the Channel 4 youth series Teen Life: Live Now, Pay Later (all for Betty TV).

My first job in television was as a researcher for Channel 4’s Deaf magazine series Vee-TV, where the highlight was filming in Brazil for the documentary The Greatest Show in the World, which saw a Deaf dancer perform in the Rio Carnival (all for Maverick TV).

One of the first things I ever made…

My first film, made when I was 17. One of three I made for my Art A-Levels. ‘Whiplash’ was intended to delve into the psychology of driving… featuring two very differently aged drivers (one of them my dad), each as reckless as the other…
Music was a track called ‘Five Mile Drive’ by local band Outsider.
Actors: Mark Stringer, Howard Swinbourne


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