John Bishop and son show there’s ‘life after deaf’

Thursday: Joe & John Bishop: Life After Deaf - (ITV, 9pm)

Liverpudlian comedian John Bishop has worked for many years to build up a loyal and devoted fan base.

Not bad for someone who only began their entertainment career at the age of 40, when most of us would consider ourselves good and settled.

His success has led to some amazing opportunities, from carrying the Olympic Torch and appearing on Celebrity Mastermind, to joining the cast of long-running TV series Doctor Who and enjoying his eighth sell-out tour, Right Here Right Now, in 2021.

John Bishop with his son Joe

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He’s also won numerous awards for his comedy and charity work, which he has been involved with for 20 years, with the most recent accolade an Honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Manchester Metropolitan University.

John has accumulated plenty of astonishing moments in his life and career, but his greatest achievement could lie at the centre of this uplifting documentary, which features the comedian and his eldest son Joe.

The latter has lost most of his hearing due to an autoimmune condition and, after a decade of trying to “fix” Joe’s condition, the Bishop family have come to the realisation that it’s time to find out more about the deaf community.

As part of the emotional process of opening up about the 12 years since Joe became partially deaf, both men will meet people across the deaf community. They can not only relate to the miscommunication and misunderstandings they’ve faced, but can also offer the Bishops alternative perspectives on what it means to be deaf.

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The subject of hearing loss hit the headlines last year, when the entire country was swept up in the story of Rose Ayling-Ellis and her professional dance partner Giovanni Pernice, after they were crowned Strictly Come Dancing champions.

Here, cameras follow Joe and John as they try to to learn British Sign Language (BSL) together. Most people would think that was enough of a challenge to tackle, but John decides to take it one step further. He aims to deliver an entire, signed stand-up comedy gig to a deaf audience – mastering an entirely new language and an entirely new way of performing all at the same time.

Needless to say, he has a mountain to climb…

John says: “Before we started this journey, we could never have imagined what an impact it would have on us as a family. Joe and I are so grateful to the members of the deaf community who we’ve met this year, their generosity has changed our lives.”

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Katie Rawcliffe, head of Entertainment Commissioning, said: “This documentary is an opportunity for viewers to see a completely different side to John and understand more about what life is like for the Deaf community and those around them. We’re very grateful to John and Joe for sharing their story with us and hope our audiences find this film engaging and informative as we have done.”

The documentary is followed by Life After Deaf Stand Up Show, which finds John headlining a night of British Sign Language comedy.