The Mum Who Got Tourette's Elizabeth - but what is Tourette's

Exploring Tourette’s: Channel 4’s documentary on Elizabeth’s journey

Elizabeth has three kids and developed Tourette's when she was 40

The Mum Who Got Tourette’s on Channel 4 introduces us to mother-of-three Elizabeth who developed Tourette’s after her 40th birthday – but can Tourette’s be cured?

Elizabeth appears to be an otherwise ‘normal’ mum in a ‘normal’ family – until you hear her pepper every conversation with obscene and sometimes racist words (we are unable to repeat them here).

Her son Robert also suffers from the condition.

Here’s everything you need to know about Tourette’s and the Channel 4 documentary.

Elizabeth has Tourette’s but can it be cured? (Credit: Channel 4)

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What is Tourette’s?

Tourette’s syndrome is a neurological condition that causes involuntary tics, some of them offensive.

Tourette’s is a disorder that involves repetitive movements and unwanted sounds.

For instance, you might repeatedly blink your eyes, shrug your shoulders or blurt out unusual sounds or offensive words.

It usually starts during childhood, but the tics and other symptoms often improve after several years and sometimes go away completely.

People with Tourette’s syndrome have a combination of physical and vocal tics.

Examples of physical tics include blinking, eye rolling, grimacing, shoulder shrugging, jerking of the head or limbs, jumping and touching things.

Examples of vocal tics include grunting, throat clearing, whistling, coughing, tongue clicking, animal sounds and swearing.

In fact, swearing is rare and only affects about 1 in 10 people with Tourette’s syndrome.

What causes Tourette’s?

The cause of the syndrome is unknown.

It’s thought to be linked to a part of the brain that helps regulate body movements.

Boys are more likely to be affected by Tourette’s syndrome than girls, although it is not clear why.

Elizabeth Hall and her son Robert both have Tourette's (Credit: Channel 4)
Elizabeth Hall and her son Robert both have the syndrome, but what is Tourette’s? (Credit: Channel 4)

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Can it be cured?

There’s no cure for the syndrome, but treatment can help manage symptoms.

People with Tourette’s syndrome may also have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or learning difficulties.

Some people can control their tics for a short while in certain social situations, like in a classroom.

It requires concentration, but gets easier with practise.

Treatment is usually available on the NHS and can involve behavioural therapy provided by a psychologist or a specially trained therapist.

Medicine can help some people with tics.

Is it hereditary?

It is a hereditary condition.

Genetic studies have shown that TS is inherited as a dominant gene.

About 50% of parents pass the gene on to their children.

Boys with the gene(s) are three to four times more likely than girls to display symptoms of TS.

Elizabeth and her youngest child Florence (Credit: Channel 4)
Elizabeth and her youngest child Florence (Credit: Channel 4)

The Mum Who Got Tourette’s on C4: What’s it about?

This C4 documentary introduces us to mum-of-three Elizabeth Hall, her husband Simeon and their three kids Robert, Florence and Eloise.

They live in Bedfordshire, and appear to be a perfectly normal family.

Until Elizabeth speaks – and her sentences are littered with swear words.

Just after her 40th birthday, Elizabeth developed Tourette’s syndrome and now involuntarily peppers their daily lives with awkward obscenities.

Eldest son Robert also has the condition.

This one-off documentary follows Elizabeth and her family over the course of a busy summer, including a holiday in Cornwall, GCSE results and meeting her son’s new girlfriend.

Viewers called the doc “inspirational” when it first aired in April 2020.


The Mum Who Got Tourette’s airs at 10pm on C4 on Wednesday February 17 2021.

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Helen Fear
TV Editor