For a small production team, producing a hidden camera show is a big challenge. On top of the usual stresses of keeping to the schedule, budget and getting good material, you are relying heavily on the public. You need your unaware supporting cast members to not only deliver funny reactions but also to sign a consent form when you reveal you've been having them on.
Working with an all-disabled cast on I'm Spazticus, who co-wrote and starred in the show (some more vastly experienced in acting than others) added to this challenge, something completely new for me as a director and other team members. We had to think about things that we'd never previously had to and if I'm honest, I was a little nervous about working around the cast's disabilities; would I do a good enough job? Would I make any mistakes? Would the public react well? Would we be able to pull off all these wind-ups? I soon realised that I was worrying unnecessarily.
During our ridiculous and silly three months on the road filming; we managed to convince people that the government had brought in guide pigs for the blind due to a shortage of dogs; that amputees in third world countries were being forced to have monkey arms sewn on; that dwarves run around punching cupcakes; that dogs can talk and that there was a new up and coming cerebral palsy rap star called MC Mumble. And that's just for starters.
We pulled this series off because the cast and team did an outstanding job but also because the British public were lovely, funny and kind. Our cast members put people in uncomfortable situations by challenging pre-conceptions; taking them way out of their comfort zones and I can honestly say 99.9% of them dealt with it in good humour without being judgmental or patronising. Proving that the world isn't such a bad place after all and that views on disability are not as negative as I know I have been led to believe. We only came across the odd idiot:
"He's such a good little actor isn't he?" said a gentleman as he patted Max our dwarf actor on the head in the street.
Upon hearing this I felt a mixture of anger, sadness and surprise but what surprised me most was that I had forgotten Max has dwarfism. Although the cast of I'm Spazticus make light of and use their disabilities to play pranks on people, at the end of the day they are just a bunch of people pissing around and having a laugh - and that over everything else is what this series is about.
I'm Spazticus series two starts on Weds 14 August at 10.50pm, Channel 4