Walking Tall


20110110 (BBC7)

Bias against the vertically challenged? Goodness Gracious! Sanjeev Bhaskar confronts an odd prejudice, with the aid of experts.

Sanjeev Bhaskar confronts an odd prejudice - bias against the vertically challenged.

Sanjeev Bhaskar examines the lot of the vertically challenged.

Drawing from literature, film and science, Samjeev explores the myths and truth associated with short people.

Short people have a greater life expectancy than their taller friends, they earn on average 25% less (and it decreases with each inch they lack), they are less likely to be married and have fewer children, and they lose elections against taller candidates.

Bhaskar considers literature's contribution to short myths, for example Gulliver's Travels or Lysander to Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Bhaskar peeks over the head of the chap sitting in front of him to look at the film stars who didn't measure up and how they dealt with it.

Alan Ladd had Sophia Loren stand in a trench in Boy on a Dolphin in 1957! He charts the rise of the anti-hero in the 1960s who paved the way for today's short male stars Pacino, Hoffman, Cruise (who still had to stand on a box when filming with wife Nicole Kidman in Eyes Wide Shut).

But he also considers the thesis that the camera loves short actors and to look good in 70mm you have to be under 5'10.

The programme also examines the scientific basis for Napoleon Complex which alleges that short people are more prone to megalomania.

Is it just a coincidence that Hitler, Napoleon and Stalin were all under 5'8""? Recently, organisations like Short Person Support in America and the Restricted Growth Association in Britain have sprung up to provide advice and champion short peoples' rights.

The language used is the language of oppression and injustice.

How soon before discrimination against short people is on the statute books?