Deaf Life20th November 2013

Joe Collins - Carving a Career in the Media

Deaf TV plays an important role within the deaf community. Joe Collins has been an influential figure for many years!

by Sarah Lawrence

If you had asked me 40 years ago when I was a teenage deaf boy, what job I would be doing for the rest of your life, I would have answered, “Carpentry”.  However, as much as I enjoy woodwork, it is not my passion in life. I found what I am passionate about when I started working in the Media and I am proud to have had a career spanning more than half my life working in Deaf TV all over the UK. 

I have worked for the BBC, Channel 4, Tyne Tees TV and Deaf-led companies such as Remark! as well as my own with Deaf Owl and Deaf Eagle. I have made a variety of TV programmes and travelled extensively around the UK and the rest of the globe, finding stories and making programmes. This has included doing assignments for 'See Hear' and 'Sign On', covering a range of topics and areas including sport, documentaries, factual, education, entertainment and much more.

One of my most memorable jobs was for 'See Hear', following the solo sailing voyage of Gerry Hughes from the UK to America across the Atlantic (this was pre his round the world recent adventure!). I remember wanting to interview him at his home, but he was on holiday, so I then travelled up to Arran to meet him in a caravan to interview him and find out all about his adventure! 

You might be reading this and think that working in TV is glamorous, meeting celebrities and going to parties all the time. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but working in TV is hard work with long hours and you have to commit to it 100%.  When you work in Deaf TV, you are never ‘off-duty’. You may go to a community event and meet a really interesting person or uncover an amazing story that you want to tell and so your work is always at the forefront of your mind. But in saying all that, I have enjoyed the projects that I have worked on and am grateful for the opportunities that I was given and the people that I have met and worked with.

Looking back over the long and winding journey that I have been on, I have learnt so much from all the experiences around the UK.  I have lived in many cities and moved my life repeatedly to continue to work in Deaf TV and Films and that is why I decided to commit it all to paper. In 2013, I published a book called, 'Cut! A History of, and my Life in Deaf Broadcasting'. I wanted to share all my stories and experiences with the Deaf Community, with the Media Industry and also with the wider community.  There is no other written record about the history of Deaf TV in the UK that includes a timeline and I am proud to have written and published this resource. 

My hope is that in 20/30 years time, a young deaf person finds a copy of my book on a shelf in a library, dusts it off and uncovers information about the history of Deaf TV in the UK and where it came from. We should be proud of our heritage and pass on these stories to our future generations.

My advice to anyone out there reading this and wanting to work in the Media is…. GO FOR IT! If you have the passion, the dedication and the commitment to tell important stories for the Deaf Community… DON’T GIVE UP! No matter how many knocks/rejections you may get,  KEEP GOING, KEEP BELIEVEING… YOU CAN DO IT!

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Community / Deaf Life

20th November 2013