The BBC has appointed its first Disability Ambassador to join its Creative Diversity team in one of three new disability-focused roles, designed to further strengthen the BBC’s commitment to disability representation, both on and off-air.

Actress, author and former CBeebies presenter, Cerrie Burnell, will work closely with commissioning and production teams over the next 12 months to champion authentic on-screen portrayal of disability.

She will be joined by Creative Diversity Disability Lead, Kay Ashton MBE and Project Manager of Elevate, Nichola Garde. This specialist disability team, reporting to Miranda Wayland, Head of Creative Diversity, will develop, deliver and champion the BBC’s disability agenda as part of the broadcaster’s wider diversity strategy.

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Cerrie Burnell said: “I’m beyond excited to be working with the BBC to elevate disability narratives, so they become integral to all storytelling and ground-breaking content in a deeply authentic and enlightening way.”

Earlier this year, Cerrie presented BBC Two documentary Silenced: The Hidden Story of Disabled Britain, part of a slate of content to mark the 25th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act.

Improve access and opportunities for disabled people at the BBC

The BBC set out its 50:20:12 workforce targets in September 2020, which will see the broadcaster employ 50% women; at least 20% black, Asian or minority ethnic staff; and at least 12% disabled people.

The targets will be achieved through the 2021-23 Diversity and Inclusion Plan, released earlier this year, which set out a number of commitments to improve access and opportunities for disabled people working at the BBC.

The BBC supports the progression of disabled talent through a number of initiatives such as BBC Elevate and The Writers Access Group, but disability continues to be the most underrepresented area of diversity across the industry.

Miranda Wayland, BBC Head of Creative Diversity, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to have the wealth of knowledge and expertise that Cerrie, Kay and Nichola bring to the team. Their appointments mark a significant step forward in the BBC’s commitment to driving increased representation of disabled talent both on and off-air.”