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CLASS OF 2022: Scriptwriter bags honorary award for highlighting deaf culture


An award-winning screenwriter, director and journalist has been awarded an honorary degree from the University of Wolverhampton for highlighting deaf culture through his work on screen, for both the deaf and mainstream audiences. 

Charlie Swinbourne has been awarded a Doctor of Arts in recognition of his creative work including sketch shows, sitcoms and dramas with deaf characters, and writing deaf stories for mainstream shows such as Casualty, Moving On, and Eastenders. Charlie grew up in a deaf family and is partially deaf himself. 

Honorary awards are presented by the University of Wolverhampton to people who have made a significant contribution to their field of expertise. 

An RTS and BAFTA award-winning screenwriter, director and journalist, Charlie makes ground-breaking dramas, comedies and documentaries, often with Deaf people and sign language at their heart. 

His writing credits include BBC productions such as Jimmy McGovern’s Moving On, Casualty, Eastenders, CBBC’s Princess Mirror-Belle, and a number of award-winning dramas, comedies and documentaries made independently and for the BSL Zone, including the sketch show Deaf Funny. 

Charlie’s most recent writing credit is the one-off 45min BBC1 drama More Than Words, broadcast in March 2021, which was nominated for a Broadcast Award. It was made as part of Jimmy McGovern’s Moving On anthology series.  

The groundbreaking Casualty episode that Charlie co-wrote with Sophie Woolley, telling the story of a day in the life of a deaf nurse, led to the programme winning the 2021 BAFTA and RTS awards for best soap or continuing drama and was also nominated for a Rose D’Or. The episode was groundbreaking for featuring five deaf creatives in key roles, including two actors, two writers and the director. 

For Eastenders, Charlie created the storyline about Ben Mitchell losing his hearing and the introduction of Frankie (played by Rose Alying-Ellis), the show’s first signing deaf character. He also created the concept for the groundbreaking ‘silent’ episode and worked on it as Story Consultant. 

His creations as a writer include the innovative 6-part BSL comedy sketch show Deaf Funny, (winner of the RTS Yorkshire Writer award 2018 and Best TV Programme award at Deafest 2019) award-winning half hour TV dramas My Song and Departure Lounge, rude mockumentary Hands Solo, the Four Deaf Yorkshiremen comedies, the TV mini-series The Fingerspellers and YouTube viral hits The Kiss and Coming Out. 

Charlie has also worked as a journalist, writing for the Guardian, BBC Online and the Mirror, and setting up the Limping Chicken blog for deaf people, which he has edited since 2012, giving over 300 deaf writers the opportunity to share their life experiences. 

Charlie said: “I'm deeply honoured to receive this award. Coming from a deaf family and being part of the deaf community, my work has always been very personal to me, and I'm very proud that it has been recognised in this way by the University.”  

The University’s graduation ceremonies take place at the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, from Monday 5 September to Saturday 10 September 2022. 

Graduates are encouraged to keep in touch with the Alumni team and take advantage of a range of benefits and support on offer to them including a discount for Postgraduate study and opportunities to benefit from mentoring, volunteering and career advice.   

For information about courses to study at the University visit the website. 


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