Talent over Tourettes

by Charlie Bunce Co-Executive Producer ‘Tourettes: Let Me Entertain You’ Leopard Films

There are some projects you just know in your bones you want to part of, and when Todd Austin (CCO of Leopard Films) told me about Tourettes: Let Me Entertain You, I knew this was one of them.   It seemed such an audacious idea – put six people with Tourettes syndrome on a stage in front of an audience and get them to perform, LIVE…   what could possibly go wrong?   

The true importance though became startlingly clear the day I met Ruth.  I’d not met anyone with Tourettes before and didn’t know quite what to expect.  I found it exhausting and deeply moving.  I found Ruth humbling and so incredibly strong.  She described her life, how she gets next to no respite from her tics even when she sleeps. How people behave towards her – even filming her on their phones as she walks down the road for a laugh.  I knew our series could challenge preconceptions.  It would be fascinating and revealing.  But most of all, if we got it right, it would mean for one day these gifted young people would be defined by their talent and not by their Tourettes.

Now we just had to get it right.  Todd’s mantra was that if you picked any performance out of the films it would be good enough to stand on its own. This had to be a series about people with a real hidden talent. Over the course of the next three months, there were many moments when we wondered how we were going to pull this off.  The extraordinary day Ruth, Steve, Greg,Tom, Emilly and Jake all met for the first time will stay with us all forever – their tics became infectious, passed from one to the other, getting louder and more chaotic.  The rehearsals of the group song were truly awful, not least because everyone hated the only song they seemed even vaguely able to sing together.  But in two months with a lot of love from an amazing team especially Reggie, vocal coach Jo Price, and musical director Chris Egan, they were ready.  Well almost.  The day before the performance we changed the group song for Emeli Sandé Next To Me… now they were ready.

Their performances were all but faultless, and when Steve’s rendition of Cold Play’s Trouble had the Commissioner in tears, I knew we’d done it. I’m immensely proud of my small involvement in this series.  I feel incredibly lucky to have met six such talented young people and watched them grow until they could own the stage.  For Todd and I it was the day we hoped for…. It was very definitely a day when they were all defined by their talent and not by their Tourettes.

‘Tourettes: Let Me Entertain You’ starts Monday 10th September, 9pm, BBC three #Tourettes @bbcthree