A BLIND actor hopes his role in a spoof reality TV show will dispel stereotypes about disabled people.

Tim Gebbels, of Kenilworth Avenue, East Oxford, stars in new Channel 4 series Cast Offs, which follows six people with different disabilities who are left on a remote British island.

Mr Gebbels has had parts in shows including The Bill, William and Mary and Torchwood, but has never taken a leading TV role before.

The 41-year-old plays Tom in Cast Offs, which will be screened for the first time at 11pm tomorrow night.

He said: “I think the intention is to show that, okay, you have got six disabled people here, but once they are on this island, they squabble, and get on with each other, and get off with each other just as any other six people would.”

The show has already been hailed as a breakthrough in the way disabled people are shown on screen.

But when asked what attracted him to the part, Mr Gebbels quipped: “It’s work, isn’t it?

“The practical pragmatic reason is that it is a big job, but also it is trying to put disabled people on screen, not just in blink-and-miss parts, but showing us as more rounded characters rather than the standard victim or hero stereotypes that disabled characters often get.”

Mr Gebbels, who has been completely blind since he was five, spent five weeks filming at Holkham Bay in Norfolk, Derbyshire and Nottingham.

One Cast Offs character is deaf, one is deformed by thalidomide, one has cherubism – a genetic disorder which affects facial appearance – another has dwarfism and the sixth is in a wheelchair.

Each of the six episodes focuses on one character. Tom’s episode will be screened on Wednesday.

Lengthy interviews were carried out before the actors were cast and Mr Gebbels said each of the six stars’ characters were reflected in the script.

He said: “Tom’s humour is quite cynical and sometimes a bit much – I think they have got that from me.

“He is also quite vulnerable because, like a lot of disabled people, he has spent a lot of his life by himself.”

In the show, Tom’s guide dog cannot go to the island but Mr Gebbels’s Labrador-retriever cross Alice does make it on screen in flashbacks.

Mr Gebbels said: “The reason why disabled people are discriminated against or marginalised is that people are not used to seeing them.

“I bet most people, after a very short time, will stop noticing the disabilities and start watching it as a drama and seeing the characters for themselves.”