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Did Matt Hancock increase awareness of dyslexia on I’m a Celebrity?


Matt Hancock controversially joined ITV’s I’m a Celebrity, arguing that he wasn’t doing it for the money, but to promote dyslexia awareness.

Manchester’s Be Broadcast has collated the data to see whether the serving MP and former Health Secretary actually made any difference during his time in Australia.

According to agency, peak discussion of dyslexia during his appearance came not from the show, but a BBC Sounds podcast on Dyscalculia and described as “a cousin to Dyslexia.” However, it had nothing to do with Hancock.

Analysis showed the focus, driven by his on screen actions were on his intentions, future and redemption – not Dyslexia.

“The main problem with dyslexia is many people come into the space and leave without doing anything. As a media personality, Matt Hancock came across in the Jungle, similar to Ed Balls’ reinvention. I was disappointed that Matt never discussed his work to support the bill to screen children for dyslexia and give dyslexic children a voice in any detail,” said Steve O’Brien, CEO of the Dyslexia Foundation.

“Dyslexics are given solutions that are like sticking plasters. There is little identity or community, due to the lack of representation of dyslexics, so the community is very transient in nature and people leave. Matt had a great opportunity to do something with his position and prime time slot. I imagine he will leave the space with little change.”

Be Broadcast added that much was made on social media about his first mention of Dyslexia on the show. However, this was overshadowed by Ofcom announcing that it had received 100 complaints about him taking part in the series. This has since risen to 2000.

During the period there were 1,373 mentions of “Dyslexia” on UK broadcast output, but 22,811 mentions of “Matt Hancock”. According to the agency, the majority were “neutral” or “throwaway comments” explaining Hancock’s reasoning for joining the show.

Discussion did increase once the show had finished, with a BBC Breakfast presenter challenging Lembit Opik’s remark that Hancock went into the jungle “to make a lot of money.” Sally Nugent said -“I thought he went in to raise the profile of dyslexia, no?”

“If the intention was to really shine a light on Dyslexia – which impacts around 10% of Brits – then we would be disappointed with these results,” said Josh Wheeler, the founder of Be Broadcast, which has donated its time to Liverpool-based Dyslexia Foundation “to right this wrong.”

“To an extent, the issue appears to have been used and messaging around the subject matter just didn’t land. Lots has been made about his intentions including a return to politics, a media career and his redemption – but based on this, it could be suggested the topic of dyslexia has been taken advantage of.”

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