Every family is a puzzle. And sometimes the pieces just don’t fit.
MIPDrama Screenings International Preview, April 2016
Nominee for Best Series Launch of the Year at Digital TV Content Innovation Awards, 2016
Nominee for Best English-Language Drama Series at C21 International Drama Award
Winner of the Special Jury Prize for a European Fiction at La Rochelle Fiction TV Festival, 2016
Winner of the 2016 Autism Hero Award
The A Word is a 6-part drama series for BBC One about a messy, extended family with a child newly diagnosed with autism at its center.
More than that it is a drama about a family who cannot communicate. Not because they aren’t smart, articulate or funny, but because, like most of us, there is a gulf between their deepest feelings and how they express those feelings.
At the heart of the family are Alison and Paul Hughes, a mid-30s couple building a life in the Lake District for themselves and their two children: teenage daughter Rebecca and five year-old son Joe. A beautiful, dreamy boy who’s never knowingly without his headphones, Joe lives in a world of routine, set to a soundtrack of punk, new wave and indie classics. Until the week he starts school, he is considered eccentric, maybe a little anti-social, maybe a little behind on the developmental checklists and at worse, a little odd. But when Alison’s brother Eddie and his wife Nicola return to the family home to rebuild their broken marriage, we find the first people brave or tactless enough to suggest that Joe’s problems run deeper. And the moment Nicola says the unsayable, Maurice, the family patriarch, begins to express his own misgivings about his grandson…
In the weeks following his diagnosis, Joe’s character and Joe’s autism magnify and exaggerate the tensions and fault lines that run throughout this multi-generational family as they struggle to adapt to the changes in their lives and, more importantly, to learn to communicate.
The A Word is a smart, contemporary drama full of ideas – about parenthood, about disability, about community. It is funny, audacious, raw and innovative – and in shining a light on this particular and unusual set of circumstances, it will have universal appeal for anyone who has ever been driven crazy by their family…