The notetaker’s limping chicken from ‘Deaf Teens: Hearing World’ goes viral

Wow, what’s happened to the online deaf world in the last 24 hours? There’s only one word on everyone’s lips and hands: ‘chicken.’ Actually there’s two: ‘ill chicken.’

Who knew that one excuse from a notetaker in BBC3’s ‘Deaf Teens: Hearing World’ would spawn quite so many retweets, status updates, and ultimately a Facebook group called My chicken is ill with over 600 members (and counting)?

For anyone who missed it, the film followed five teenagers with different levels of hearing and methods of communication on their journeys to adulthood and the hearing world.

When Sara, a teenager from Nottingham who is profoundly deaf (and needs the support of an interpreter and a notetaker at university) arrived for her first lecture, she was told by her notetaker (who had only been booked for one hour) that she couldn’t stay for the whole duration. The reason? “I have a problem,” the notetaker told her. “My chicken is ill.”

If the look of disbelief on Sara’s face that a limping chicken’s visit to the vet came above her education was telling, that was nothing compared to the online reaction from the deaf community.

A screengrab of the moment was spread by all and sundry on Twitter. On Facebook, people jovially speculated that the ill chicken had contributed to Sara’s later decision to quit university, and that the reason Sara and her boyfriend Asher were later seen eating at Nandos was some kind of revenge mission against chickens. Meanwhile Adam Bassett, a deaf actor, wondered whether the “the ill chicken, notetaker and Sara [will] appear on the Jeremy Kyle show this week?”

On Twitter, deaf people have been sharing gags (and other comments on the programme) using the #deafteens hashtag. They range from ‘Some people have clearly never known the love of a good chicken’ to people arguing ‘that the #deafteens chicken wasn’t even ill. It was limping, thus was *injured*.’

There are few moments that unite the deaf world, but it seems like everyone was watching BBC3 last night and this is one of those moments that struck a chord. Will we ever get over ‘chickengate’? Do we want to? And is it possible to think of any more original jokes about chickens?!

I’m off for a KFC Family Feast to ponder some of those questions.

Update: amazingly, two deaf chaps have recreated the ‘ill chicken’ scene… this is madness.

Guardian article: Why Angry Boys’ puerile deaf kid is my hero

My latest Guardian article was published in today’s G2 supplement, and is all about a deaf character called Nathan in Chris Lilley’s very rude mockumentary series Angry Boys. Nathan is dominated by his twin brother Daniel in the series, but often manages to come out on top. The final episode is broadcast on BBC3 at 10.30pm tonight and you can read my piece online here.