Rosie Jones’ new Channel 4 sitcom about an illegal drugs empire sounds genuinely hilarious

Comedian Rosie Jones as Emily in new sitcom Disability Benefits. She is staring with a questioning glance at the camera, while sitting on some steps in a back alley.

Queer British comedian and actress Rosie Jones has lined up her next big project: a Channel 4 sitcom about a disabled woman who builds an illegal-drug empire.

For much of this year, Jones has been talking about some of the unpleasant ways she’s been treated as a disabled woman in the public eye.

She’s been open about how her visibility as a lesbian living with ataxic cerebral palsy has led to physical and online abuse.

The trolling and harassment she’s experienced has been so severe that, in July, she fronted her first documentary on Channel 4, in which she confronted some of those who’ve targeted her.

The documentary drew fierce criticism from many in the disabled community, who felt the use of a slur in the title – Rosie Jones: Am I a R*tard? – was harmful. While the programme was commended for how it confronted ableism, several contributors withdrew from its creation and scolded Jones for her use of the word.

Jones has now moved on and is focusing elsewhere. She’s stepping away from addressing the trolling to put disability front and centre in Disability Benefits.

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Much as she does in live comedy shows, Jones be using her experience as a disabled woman to create sharp and hilarious commentary on how society still treats disabled people.

Disability Benefits Emily (Jones), a young woman with cerebral palsy who has just been made redundant, while her disability benefit has been reduced to almost nothing.

Feeling she’s got nothing left to lose, Emily starts building a drug empire, although she ends up doing a lot more than simply selling some weed every now and again.

As a disabled woman, Emily is used to being “underestimated” and “patronised”, while others are just “pretending she’s not there”. Luckily for her, that disregard becomes the perfect disguise to hide behind. 

In a statement following the series announcement, Jones, who is writing as well as starring in the series, said the show is something she’d always wanted to make.

“I am incredibly excited to be making Disability Benefits. It has always been my dream to have my own sitcom and now it is coming true. Bring it on,” she exclaimed.

Disability Benefits is an adaptation of Jones’ short Channel 4 Comedy Blap of the same name, which was released last year.

The new series will feature six 30-minute episodes, set to air next year. It will by co-written Veep screenwriter Peter Fellows.

Rosie Jones fans praise new documentary Am I a R*tard
Rosie Jones. (Getty)

Clelia Mountford, the co-founder of Merman Television, which will produce the series, said she was delighted Disability Benefits was being turned into a full-length series.

“Rosie has a unique voice and story-telling ability, alongside impeccable comedic timing, and we are proud to be working with her on her first scripted TV project,” the company said in a statement.

Charlie Perkins, Channel 4’s head of comedy, added: “Rosie is a national treasure, with her distinctively funny and powerful work felt across all genres. Making her first sitcom… is the perfect next step for this special force of nature.”

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