Have you seen JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy recently on TV? The character called Colin Wall (Simon McBurney) who was portrayed as a weak, over-stressed weirdo who had asthma and was always puffing on his inhaler, made my blood boil.

Why is every odd character given a ‘weak’ condition like asthma, allergies, eczema etc. suggesting that these conditions are just a symptom of being stressed, a worry wart and not able to function properly in society without others propping you up and supporting you?

I’m not the only one who finds this kind of portrayal that asthma would somehow disappear if people weren’t such nerdy geeks with no friends, no social skills etc. extremely offensive.

This blog entitled entitled rather aptly, “Asthma is not funny” says it really well and gives many examples of characters in many films who suddenly don’t need their inhaler when they find the strength etc.

Just google ‘asthma portrayal on tv’ and you will find many others who feel the same.

But asthma is NOT funny. EVERY DAY!

That is shocking, not funny.
So really, how dare anyone portray it as something to be belittled, laughed at or something only pathetic people have.

It’s just not true and quite honestly it makes me scream.
Just like the lack of anyone with an allergy, anyone with real eczema and actually anyone with any normal disability.

We seem to have to watch a sanitised and well groomed version of the world that is so far from reality.

So JK Rowling I am disappointed in your attitude towards this very serious condition. Got anything to say about that?

It was a pretty disappointing series in general to be honest and the ending sucked… so many loose ends I don’t know were to start, but I watched it just to see what it was all about. I wish I hadn’t bothered.

What appalled me more than the rather easy and unimaginative character, you remember, the one with asthma, Colin Wall, is the things the other characters said to him. The way they behaved, the way they treated him.

The comments and the way they laughed at him for needing an inhaler.

Quite frankly it displays a flagrant disregard for a very serious condition.

Why can’t someone normal on TV ever have asthma?

Would you make fun of someone with epilepsy? or diabetes?
Would you joke if someone was having a stroke or a heart attack?

Would you laugh at someone with a potential life threatening disease or condition

Because let me tell you this, having an asthma attack is not funny.

It is terrifying.
It hurts.
It really hurts.
And when your inhaler isn’t working you know you need help fast because this attack is a biggy and could well be your last.

I would ask that everyone or just one bloody producer at the BBC, ITV or Channel 4 or just about any channel really would take a step back and portray these conditions with the respect they deserve.

Why can’t a normal person have asthma?

The last time I had a bad asthma attack I ended up in hospital in A&E needing emergency treatment. Not funny. Not funny at all.

I’ll be off now because it’s late, nearly bedtime and I need to take my preventative inhaler, which I do every day in the hope that I will never have another serious asthma attack again.

Anyone else find this kind of portrayal deeply offensive? Or is just me?



An allergy and health writer and freelance copywriter, Ruth is passionate about helping those with allergies and food intolerances take control, embrace their condition, and learn to live with and love who they are. It can be very lonely finding you have allergies and discovering what helps you can be a life long journey. What works for one person won't work for another, so after trying nearly every allergy treatment under the sun and finding hours of research necessary to keep abreast of what's going on, Ruth started writing her blog, What Allergy? in April 2009. Ruth has life threatening allergies herself to all nuts, all diary, tomatoes and celery and knows first-hand what it's like to have an anaphylactic attack. Voted in the Top 5 UK allergy blogs by Cision UK in 2011, What Allergy is packed full of interesting articles, hints and tips and product reviews which are a must read for anyone with allergies, food intolerances or sensitivities, asthma and eczema. From subjects such as "What is celery allergy?" to "Surviving a holiday abroad with allergies", it's packed with useful and interesting information. You can register free for a weekly newsletter by visiting her website http://whatallergy.com/ and also keep in touch by following her on Facebook and Twitter.

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