Special needs dating documentary
His father watches from across the room, a lean and gentle man, careful not to jump in even when his son answers – as he does often – with an abrupt yes or no. She asked me to dance with her, but I backed away in a corner behind the cameraman’s back.” Stars in the Sky, an agency specialising in people with learning difficulties, set up a chaperoned blind date. Malcolm said he would leave them alone, but admits he couldn’t help hiding behind a fence to watch at first. Liked the same things I like: East Enders and JLS.” Did he fancy her? It will be about you guys.’ That was a very nice thing to say. “Parents and carers of people with learning difficulties are sometimes a bit over-protective.
“Since my past relationships didn’t work out, I decided to do a documentary,” says Sam. “I was curious to see how he got on and what she was like.” What, then, did Sam make of his date? It’s just what it is.” Sam’s mother, Kay, died three years ago. But it’s for the people themselves to decide whether to take that risk.
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Sam says he just shrugs his shoulders at words like that, but why would this shy lad want to risk ridicule by going on the television? I was lonely.” So he answered an email calling for volunteers, which had been sent to the offices of Skillnet in Dover, where he goes most mornings to study music, media and drama.
“Looking for love,” he says, pushing the glasses back up his nose. Sam was comfortable with the idea of being on camera, having appeared as an extra in East Enders and The Inbetweeners. There was a big girl who was extrovert, and she really liked me, right? That sort of thing.” His dad breaks in to ask what Sam would have thought if Jolene had been unattractive?
Sam is sitting cross-legged on an armchair now, and he’s a bit nervous. The director’s first plan was for him to go speed-dating. I didn’t really like her much because she was too loud. I was a bit nervy and a bit teary, but Dad said to calm down, and get it out of my head.” Sam bought a single rose from a florist in Dover and carried it all the way to London Zoo, where he was to meet Jolene Sampson, a 28-year-old charity worker from North London with learning difficulties. Just friendly.” A different picture emerges when I ask how he described her to his male friends at Skillnet. “She’s not.” The speed of his reply makes his father laugh. “The director told me, 'There will be a love story in this, even if nothing happens with the dates. Someone to talk to and hang around with.” And what if it doesn’t work out? There’s plenty more fish in the sea.” Would he have said that a year ago? I’m more confident now.” Malcolm agrees, but wasn’t it a big risk to let Sam do this?
“I really liked how quickly it took you past the labels and the conditions,” says Malcolm. The pair of them have been out together six times now. On the cheek though.” Would he like to take it further?
“I think they’re films about love, not about disabilities. “She introduces me to her friends and says, 'This is Sam, this is my boyfriend.’ ” His face lights up when he says that.
As Sam talks about fame, the postman arrives at the old schoolhouse he shares with his father, Malcolm, a musician.