Russell Howard under fire for mocking disabled child's wheelchair ramp

Russell Howard on stage during the comedy night of the Teenage Cancer Trust annual concert series, at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Picture date: Tuesday March 20th, 2018. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/ EMPICS Entertainment.
Russell Howard's joke about a wheelchair ramp has caused offence (PA)

Russell Howard has been branded shameful by an angry mother after he mocked her disabled daughter’s wheelchair ramp.

The 39-year-old comedian featured a before and after picture of Clare Lally’s home in West Dunbartonshire in the latest episode of his Sky One show The Russell Howard Hour, along with a series of jokes about the 60-metre zig-zagging ramp that grants wheelchair access down the steep steps to the pavement.

Lally, 38, spent two years campaigning for West Dunbartonshire Council to install the ramp to help her 12-year-old daughter Katie – who was born prematurely in 2006 – get her wheelchair in and out of the house.

After the episode was broadcast last week, Lally tweeted Howard from a now-deleted account, saying: “Seeing your home appear on TV and folk laughing is the worst feeling ever. I’m truly upset at your remarks and jokes about our ramp at our home.

The 60 metre wheelchair ramp (Credit: Sky One)
The 60 metre wheelchair ramp (Credit: Sky One)

“Firstly, it’s for my disabled daughter, it’s her life and her way of getting in and out her home. If this gives you and your audience a laugh at my daughter’s expense, then shame on you and everyone that laughed.

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“I really thought you were one of the good guys, truly gutted watching you laugh at my disabled child... She’s disabled, Russell, she is not the butt of people’s jokes. She is the most strongest, loving person in the world.”

Howard had shown pictures of the £40,000 wheelchair ramp, built in 2014, calling officials “morons”, joking: “Can you imagine what that’d be like if you forgot your wallet?”

He also quipped: “The only good thing about that, you’re not getting bothered by Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

Howard then added: "What I’m trying to say is, disability can happen to anyone so let’s make planes, trains, taxis and even comedy clubs accessible so anyone can enjoy them.”

Lally was not the only viewer to be upset, with several others commenting on Twitter that they were offended by the joke and calling for the stand-up comic to apologise.

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A spokesperson for Howard told Yahoo UK: "We have spoken to the family and, at their request, we have no further comment on this matter, but on an important related note we would like to take this opportunity to again highlight the ongoing problems many disabled people have regarding access to buildings and transport in the UK."