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Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The A Word: As Joe tried to ride a bike, are the wheels coming off Alison and Paul's relationship?


The A Word continues to be the highlight of the TV week and this episode’s slice of life features more of  Maurice and Louise’s [Christopher Eccleston and Pooky Quesnel] on again/off again/surely they’ve realised it should be on again relationship.

They are gradually developing a better understanding of what they mean to each other. Louise realises that it’s Maurice she wants to turn to when the effects of her treatment are leaving her low while the normally competitive Maurice has a revelation mid fell run and abandons the race to go and open up to Louise.

The scenes leading up to this with Ralph [Leon Harrop], at ease with his new girlfriend, being baffled by Maurice struggling to express his emotions are priceless.

Eddie and Nicola [Greg McHugh and Vinette Robinson] are also getting along better now as they have come to terms with living apart. Eddie has found it hard to move on from Nicola so when given the opportunity to prolong his visit he throws himself into teaching Joe to ride a bike.

It isn’t a straightforward task for Joe to learn and Eddie becomes frustrated that this is classed as one of the signs of development for Joe, having a meltdown while the other children in the playground look on sagely (“Has he slept through?”). Success is eventually achieved but is short lived as Joe, emphasising his unpredictability, decides he doesn’t want to do it anymore.

With love and understanding all around there was hope for Paul and Alison [Lee Ingleby and Morven Christie] to get back on track too, especially when they were given the chance to spend time together without Joe. Having filled their lives with their family and work however they find it awkward to suddenly talk to each other and connect as a couple again.


The rest of the family do an admirable job looking after Joe in their absence which just brings home to Alison the need to have something else in her life once Rebecca [Molly Wright] leaves for university and Joe is settled in his new school. Just as Alison is considering going back to university herself however, Rebecca is having second thoughts about going and leaving the family. Feeling emotional pressure to help the family out she is in danger of becoming lost in the mix if she stays and worries she’ll miss out if she leaves.

Despite the A Word being an adaptation of an Israeli programme (Yellow Peppers) it has the distinct voice of Peter Bowker coming through and together with the brilliant cast keeps you watching week after week. It is also refreshing to see that there is not just one character with autism in isolation but as part of a variety of complex characters with varying degrees of what is considered normal behaviour which makes for much more engaging viewing.

Contributed by Cecilia

The A Word Continues Tuesday at 9.00pm on BBC One.

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