Breaking Bad actor RJ Mitte has played down the controversy over Emmerdale mocking cerebral palsy by saying that people need to be able to laugh at the condition, to help normalise disability.
Mitte has cerebral palsy and played the similarly afflicted Walter White Jr in the Netflix drama. Speaking to NME, the actor said the ITV soap should be forgiven for the controversy, following a scene which joked about the disease.
In a recent episode, Nicola King joked to her friend Dan Spencer while he was drunk: “You can’t go around all cocked. You look like you’ve got that…what is it…Himi, hemi, hemiplegia.” King, played by Nicola Wheeler, has hemiplegia, a form of cerebral palsy in the show.
Show bosses apologised for causing offence after 19 viewers complained to broadcasting watchdog Ofcom. But Mitte told NME: “There are so many comments out there like that in the world, and you need to be able to laugh and joke about it. People shouldn’t take everything so seriously.”
Mitte added: “I’m sure some people are genuinely offended by what was said. But at the end of the day, if you give these people power, then they win. What happened showed that we need more normality around cerebral palsy. I mean, hey, it could be worse.”
Mitte is in the UK to front Channel 4’s coverage of the Paralympic Games, which start on Wednesday (September 7). He said of his role: “It’s very nerve racking, as I know some sports but I don’t know about a lot of sports. But I’m learning more every day and it’s fun. I’m so lucky to be part of it.”
There will be a full interview in next week’s NME about Mitte’s involvement with the Paralympic Games, available nationwide on September 16.