TV preview: The A Word

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A new six-part drama for the BBC tackles what it’s like to have a child with autism.

In the idyllic landscape of the Lake District, Paul and Alison Hughes are building a life for themselves and their two children: teenage daughter Rebecca (from Alison’s first marriage) and five-year-old son Joe. Joe is a music lover who’s rarely without his headphones; to some he’s a little eccentric, to others he’s a little odd. But when Alison’s brother Eddie and his wife Nicola return to the family home to rebuild their broken marriage, they become the first people brave enough to suggest that Joe’s problems run deeper.

And when Joe is finally diagnosed with autism, the whole family finds itself in an unfamiliar and unpredictable world.

Screenwriter Peter Bowker said: “We have the opportunity here to make something funny, tough, realistic and inventive about contemporary family life and autism. In a society where imperfection increasingly comes with blame attached, it seems timely to look at how autism is regarded both within a family and the wider community – and to give some insight into how that experience might be for the child. It’s a drama full of ideas – about parenthood, about disability, about communication.”

The A Word, Tuesday, BBC1, 9pm.

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