In ‘Mixmups,’ disability is just part of play and imagination

By Louise Kinross

Got a kid three to five years old? Show them this video about Mixmups, a new British stop-motion animation show for kids that includes disabled characters. It was written by Rebecca Atkinson, a children’s TV producer who is partially sighted and partially deaf.

The 52-part series is about three friends—Pockets the bear, Giggle the cat, and Spin the rabbit—who go on magical adventures. 

According to Rebecca, who wrote this piece about it in The Guardian: “Each episode begins with the friends cooking up an idea for play… They place toys and objects into a blue mixing box, add some sparkles and, using their magical wooden spoon, mix up the magic and get swallowed inside the box on an adventure.”

Pockets, a bear with three red pockets on his blue fur, is partially sighted and uses a guide dog. Giggle, the orange-striped cat, has a curved spine and sometimes uses a wheelchair. Spin the red rabbit is nondisabled.

The characters are voiced by kids with disabilities and the adult role of the Lucky Loover Bird, who is not disabled, is voiced by a visually impaired actor. “The writing team all have lived experience of disability and a thorough knowledge of play theory, which drives the simple narrative of each episode—making them appealing and relatable to preschoolers,” Rebecca writes in her Guardian piece.

“I gave the Mixmups a helter-skelter house with a lift, automatic doors, wheelchair accessible swings and a twirly cups roundabout inspired by the Norfolk seaside town of Great Yarmouth, close to my childhood home,” Rebecca writes. “The result is Mixington Valley, a fantasy space where barriers are removed and everything is open to all.”

The episodes are audio described and signed and subtitled versions are in the works. Rebecca describes Mixmups as a disabled-created brand.

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