‘The A Word’ finale review: Autism drama has been heart-warming and engaging

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Without Joe’s singing at the start, there was an unsettling change of tone to start this season finale.

Post-argument with Alison, dad Paul spent the night on the floor of his new restaurant gastropub prior to its soft launch. Pulling together, with future family discussions parked, it was all hands to the pumps, and Maurice finding himself a spare part, took Joe off to keep him out of the way.

Suited and booted, Maurice (Christopher Eccleston) arrived at the door of his singing teacher turned no-strings lover Louise, awkwardly inviting her to formalise their relationship into “knocking about” together. While he was knocked back instead, Joe was unfairly left in the care of Louise’s son Ralph, a man with Downs Syndrome, and the boy disappeared.

Involving the police, primarily in the person of Maurice’s best pal and potential love-rival Bob, Alison and Paul were finally forced into a public admission of Joe’s diagnosis and its implications for his ability to communicate. It also brought forward the suggestion that he might respond best to music, leading to some amusing, if heart-breaking scenes of singing and phones being held aloft.

The A Word 6 Alison Hughes (MORVEN CHRISTIE)

Amongst the search drama, Nicola and Eddie had their own issues leading to a messy climax, as she feared she was pregnant and his job offer came through. Finally, Eddie’s decision to leave was rooted in their reason for coming home when he admitted that the spectre of her infidelity is insurmountable.

Meanwhile, the online bullying of Rebecca came to light, with step-father Paul proving himself to be much more of a father than the disappointing Stuart. Despite being the hero of the hour, finding the missing Joe, ex-boyfriend Luke was left in no doubt that his behaviour towards Rebecca has been out of line.

Looking to the future, the story provoked handfuls of new concerns for Joe as Alison received some home truths from Louise. During his absence, suspicion fell on Ralph – thanks to an age old accusation by school bus bullies and the fact that mud sticks when you stand out from the crowd.

The A Word 6 Luke Taylor (THOMAS GREGORY)

Across these six weeks, we have been utterly engrossed in the tale of Joe and his family. While other, noisier dramas such as Line of Duty may grab the headlines, The A Word has been consistently involving, heart-warming and engaging.

The show has been unafraid to tackle a difficult subject and present its protagonists, particularly Morven Christie’s Alison in an unflattering light as she coped with her son’s diagnosis; bull-headed and blunt, selfish even, but always her son’s strongest advocate.

In concert with the heartfelt emotion it has been incredibly funny too, and it is clear that there are plenty more tales to tell about these characters. In fact, we would gladly watch a drama centred on Sherlock actress Vinette Robinson’s Nicole and where she goes next.

It would be a crime if we were not able to follow Joe’s continuing story, whether straight away or in a few years when his increasing age brings further complications. The cast are keen, let’s hope the BBC are too!


Aired at 9pm on Tuesday 26 April 2016 on BBC One.

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