One of them is Brett.

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One of them is Brett. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). Source: Wellcome Collection.

About this work


A moving and informative film which looks at the life of Brett Nielson, a boy born affected by the drug thalidomide. Brett was born without arms and the film shows touching and personal scenes from his home life - rough and tumble with his brothers, meal times and other practical activities, all of which reveal both his extraordinary dexterity with his feet and his determination. Moments of voiceover narration from Brett's mother reveal her strong insight into all the problems Brett faces in his life ahead as well as her admiration for how hard he tries to be able to do everyday tasks - we see him washing up deftly using his feet. She describes how family life has been affected by having Brett and how hurtful people's comments can be - both to her as a mother who took thalidomide and in relation to Brett's physical appearance. Other scenes include a visit by the Nielson family to the Nuffield Hospital where Brett is fitted with a gas powered prosthetic arm of the Heidelberg variety - in one scene this is demonstrated by Professor Trueta. Back at home, however, Brett displays marked resentment towards having to use the prosthetic arm as he is much happier using his feet. An early meeting of the Thalidomide Society is shown, set up by parents to compare experiences and attempt to secure a good future for their children. We see Brett visit a primary school where teachers encourage the children there to accept him - the children are fascinated to see how well Brett paints using his feet. There is a detailed demonstration of a new prosthetic arm, the Russian arm, and the Neilsons visit the Lady Hoare Experimental Workshop at Chailey Heritage Craft School and Hospital in Sussex where they meet David Bickers, born without arms and legs, during an occupational therapy session. Brett is encouraged to see how difficult it is for children with even greater disabilities than his own. The family also visit J.E. Hanger & Co., then the UK's top limb-making factory where one third of the employees have limb deficiencies themselves. In the final voiceover narration, the family are encouraged to see the future for Brett, and other children like him, as being inextricably bound up with technological developments.


UK : The Society for the Aid of Thalidomide Children, 1965.

Physical description

1 encoded moving image (28.31 min.) : sound, black and white



Copyright note

The Thalidomide Society

Terms of use

Some restrictions.
Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-NoDerivs 2.0 UK: England & Wales

Creator/production credits

Commentary by Stanley Baxter. Written and directed by Roger Graef. Produced on behalf of The Society for the Aid of Thalidomide Children by Derrick Knight & Partners Ltd. Photographed by Peter Jessop, edited by Terence Twigg, Distributed by Concord Films Council Ltd., Ipswich, Suffolk.

Language note

In English


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