Then Barbara Met Alan Movie Review: A Struggle that’s Relevant Even Today

While reviewing, one of my fears has been to judge a film that’s based on a real-life struggle. For example, Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom. You cannot outrightly criticize them too much because they are limited in several aspects.

The makers don’t have much liberty in finalizing the plot or the screenplay because the story’s roots lie in non-fiction. However, taking all the things in my stride, I am here with my review of Then Barbara Met Alan, a new film streaming on Netflix.

Then Barbara Met Alan Review Summary

Taking us back to the past, Then Barbara Met Alan succeeds in telling the story about a struggle that has waned with time. However, its effect remains. The film has a short duration and offers enough quality to be on your watchlist.

Then Barbara Met Alan Synopsis

The story of Then Barbara Met Alan revolves around the struggle for equal rights for disabled people in the UK, led by Barbara and Alan, a couple. It shows how the duo mobilized individuals and groups in the quest to bring their genuine issues to the limelight.

Image Credits: Netflix

You can find more about the origins of Then Barbara Met Alan in the FAQs section of this blog.

Directed by Bruce Goodison and Amit Sharma, Then Barbara Met Alan stars Ruth Madeley (Barbara), Arthur Hughes (Alan), Mat Fraser (Mat), Vivienne Soan (Nora), and Reece Pantry (Billy), among others. 

What Works for Then Barbara Met Alan?


A film that showcases the struggle for a noble cause must ace the execution part. Though the margin for error is decent, it cannot risk jumping into potholes of laziness. Then Barbara Met Alan shows you the popular struggle for equal rights in a non-dramatized way.

While it could have created plenty of melodrama to settle the characters, the film stays to the ground without chest-thumping.

Genuine Cinematography

That Then Barbara Met Alan uses raw footage from the 1990s is no surprise. Most real-life-based films and shows crawl through past videos to maintain the authenticity of the narration. However, the fictionalized part is also beautifully shot for the film.

Image Credits: Netflix

The scenes where Barbara and Alan are shown having conversations feel affable, while the ones from their performances in the club are entertainingly brought to the fore.

No Sugar-coating

Then Barbara Met Alan doesn’t sugar-coat scenes or moments from the past that are hard-hitting. For example, the ignorant and careless attitude of the government that continuously delayed the progression of an essential legislation.

Relevance After three Decades

I have to say that Then Barbara Met Alan is highly relevant even in 2022. From the outset, modern-day society feels sensitive and inclusive; however, several threads remain tangled in discrimination of different types.

It would be wrong to think of Then Barbara Met Alan only as a film for disabled people. In my opinion, it is for all kinds of prejudices, inequity, and perceptions that ail our globalized world.


Ruth Madeley plays Barbara, an unapologetic and bold woman. Firstly, credits to the casting professionals for finding almost a lookalike of the real Barbara. Madeley aces every minute of Then Barbara Met Alan and keeps you attentive throughout the runtime. 

Image Credits: Netflix

Arthur Hughes as Alan succeeds in presenting the layered personality of the real Alan. He never looks out of touch and maintains a magnetic relationship with the camera. The spontaneity in his act was the best part of Hughes’ outing.

What Doesn’t Work for Then Barbara Met Alan?

I wanted the length to be a little longer. At least another twenty minutes were needed. Some more insights into the world of difficulties faced by the disabled were the need of the hour, especially because we have started taking our privileges for granted.

Moreover, I felt the emotional appeal could have been better laid down in Then Barbara Met Alan because of its sensitive outline.

Final Word

Undoubtedly, you have to give Then Barbara Met Alan a watch. It is only an hour long and attracts your attention to an issue that’s still unresolved in many countries.


What was the disabled people’s protest called in 1992?

It was called “Block Telethon.”

Did Alan and Barbara play a role in the closure of the ITV Telethon?

Yes, Alan and Barbara led several protests against the charity telethons known as the ITV Telethons. Three Telethons were held in the UK from 1988 to 1992. Each Telethon ran for 27 hours and raised donations for disabled individuals.

However, the show portrayed the disabled as mere objects instead of genuine subjects to catch the attention of donors. The anchor would blabber about unimportant issues from the personal lives of a particular person and bank on it emotionally to receive money.

Image Credits: Netflix

The first protest against ITV Telethons was held in 1990. It was led by BLOCK TELETHON, a group that later became Disabled People’s Direct Action Network. Though ITV Telethons endured the opposition in 1990, they could not bear the brunt of thousands of protestors in 1992.

After the protests led to the closure of ITV Telethon, Alan and Barbara continued the struggle further and fought hard for the Disability Discrimination Act, 1995.

Was Piss on Pity adopted as a slogan in real life?

Yes, Barbara and Alan came up with the slogan “Piss on Pity” to slash the stereotypical sorrow for disabled people.

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