Deaf humour inspires film

First published in Local news Ilkley Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A director and writer who grew up in a deaf family has made a film in sign language telling the tales of four deaf Yorkshiremen on a trip to Blackpool.

Originally inspired by a Monty Python sketch, Charlie Swinbourne’s film Four Deaf Yorkshiremen Go To Blackpool was shown on Film4 this week and can now be seen online.

Mr Swinbourne, 32, of Ilkley, says the film is based on his experiences of growing up. His parents are both deaf and he grew up seeing stories told visually in sign language.

He has now written eight films featuring deaf actors, and made his newest film – the first he has personally directed – after working on two short films on the same theme, which attracted more than 200,000 views online via Youtube.

The first film was inspired by the Monty Python Four Yorkshiremen sketch, says Mr Swinbourne, where four Tykes compete to tell the worst story about their childhood.

He created a deaf version – about the discrimination the men had faced because they were deaf – but played for laughs.

The original films were both filmed in one afternoon, with no budget. But Four Deaf Yorkshiremen Go To Blackpool is half an hour long and had a huge crew and a five-day shoot.

They filmed in Blackpool early in March, shooting on location on the beach and in other parts of the resort, without any rain.

In contrast, one of their filming locations had been destroyed just weeks earlier by storms.

Mr Swinbourne said: “I grew up in a deaf family and what I wanted to do with the films is to convey the deaf humour, which I grew up with.

“It is obviously a lot more visual and physical than a joke conveyed in spoken English.

“Sign-language stories and jokes tend to be more about the journey than the punchline – what something looked like or the way someone looked when something happened to them – and that is part of the storytelling in the film.”

Although most of the film is in sign language, it also features subtitles.

There are several ways the film can be seen online at

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