This week the BBC is releasing Marvellous, a film starring acclaimed actor Toby Jones about the extraordinary life of Neil Baldwin. Campaigns assistants Josie and Ciara looked over the film script whilst the film was in production and were invited last week to a screening of the film at BFI Southbank. We captured their thoughts on the film...

Warning: this blog contains spoilers.

Josie: I think the film Marvellous and Neil’s life story is magnificent because it’s a real story - it’s a powerful story.

Ciara: Josie and I went to the premier because we had looked at the script before the film was made. It was a great opportunity for us to look at the script and say what we thought. Because the film is about somebody who is seen differently by other people, to me, it was an important story to be told. 

Josie: I think a lot of people with learning disabilities like Ciara and me go through things that Neil has, like the bullying and trying to look after himself and being independent.

Ciara: There were some scenes I could relate to in the film like losing someone very close to you. Neil’s mum passed away and 2 years ago I lost someone, so I could relate to Neil and how losing the person he loved and trusted was so hard for him.

Josie: The way that Neil took things that happened to him in his stride, calm and relaxed, I could understand because it’s a bit like me. He was positive about things like me too. Of course, with his parents dying we can all relate to that - we all have to cope with things like that. We all wish that people didn’t have to go.

Ciara: Neil being called horrible things like ‘mong’ struck a chord with me too, because I was badly bullied at school.

Josie: When people took the Mick out of Neil he just ignored it, which is what I would do. It’s not right though. I don’t like people taking the Mick out of anyone. It’s wrong to do it.

Ciara: It is wrong, it’s a put down - Neil just shrugged it off and ignored it, but that’s still not ok. When it was me that was getting picked on for being different, it upset me a lot. It really affected me.

Josie: It was good when he got his own back though.

Ciara: It was funny because he got his own back and showed that he was just one of the boys and could take part. Neil had lots of support from his friends and his family, which I can relate to too. My family and friends have helped me achieve so much. I think all Neil’s friends helped him have such an amazing life.

Josie: I liked that all his friends accepted him the way he was and stood up for him and helped him when he needed it. It was only one guy who was horrible to him.

Ciara: All the people he knew and his celebrity friends accepted him, which was proper cool. People need to learn its ok to be different; you don’t have to be like anyone else. I think the film was about that.

Josie: I liked how independent Neil was. When he got his flat with his pigeons and birdies. He had help and support from his mum to begin with too, to help him manage.

Ciara: I think that was great. I live independently and it’s sometimes hard with things like bills - in the film Neil struggles with things like that too, but I think the film showed the importance of relying on yourself and being your own person and being independent and getting the right support if you need it.

Josie: I like people to understand about people who see life in a different way.

Ciara: At the Q&A session after the film, real Neil and actor Neil were answering questions together. They were really bouncing off each other and cracking jokes, which was really lovely to see, and to see how well they knew each other.

Josie: Real Neil and actor Neil worked really well in the film. It gave me a good feeling to see them together in the film. 

Ciara: I think it was really important that real Neil was in the film because it’s his story and he should be a big part of telling it, so that people can understand that he is a real person.

Josie: There needs to be more stories on TV about real life people like Neil.

Ciara: When we were at the screening I looked around and people were really enjoying the film and laughing and crying at Neil’s story. It was great to see people enjoying a film about his amazing life and what he has been through and what he has achieved. It showed us why we should all celebrate difference.

Watch the Marvellous trailer

If you've been affected by disability hate crime or any issues raised in the film, please call the Mencap Direct helpline free: 0808 808 1111 (lines are open 9am-5pm)

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