EVEN-YEAR-OLD Joe Hughes was sitting on the roof of his school as this second series began last week, dangling his feet from up high.
Aside from the obvious short-term trauma, it also meant that Joe’s parents, Alison (Morven Christie) and Paul (Lee Ingleby) were forced to face the reality that Joe might not coping with his school as well as they thought.
And so everything moves on. Now Joe is preparing for his first day at a specialist school in Manchester. There are problems as the changes upset Joe’s routine, but there’s also comedy from no-nonsense granddad Maurice (Christopher Eccleston) – “They settled me into school with a Chinese burn and a dead leg”.
There’s a clever scene when Joe joins his new classroom for the first time, tentatively lured in by the chance to complete a puzzle, while Alison and Paul, looking around at the other children, are clearly uncomfortable. “Can we stop pretending that it’s not just a bit weird?” says Paul.
Brilliantly acted, this is a charming and honest portrayal of a family learning to cope with autism and special needs. And it also has a stonking soundtrack of 70s and 80s music, heard through the headphones that Joe (Max Vento) wears whenever possible.