“The A Word” centers on Joe, an autistic boy played with brilliance by Max Vento. Joe lives in a world of walking with headphones and obsessively singing 70s and 80s rock music (the music programming throughout all three seasons is a delight). In the first season, parents Alison (Morvern Christie cannot put a foot wrong) and Paul (a stunning performance from Lee Inglesby) struggled to understand and cope with Joe in the wider world. Their surrounding rambunctious families (all casted and portrayed flawlessly) deepened the story with swirling subplots. By Season 2, Joe was in a special school and his parents were divorced but the narrative had deepened, with various other disabled teenagers entering the scene. Season 3 alternates between Alison and Joe in Manchester, and Paul and Joe in the Lakes District (featuring stunning cinematography), and the narrative arc has widened to incorporate a young Downs Syndrome man’s wedding and the pregnancy of Joe’s sister. The British do such soap-opera-like ensemble tales so well, but The A Word transcends the cliches. The script is clever, the dialogue is whip smart, the storylines remain unpredictable, and above all, there is a real, pulsing heart to it all. Seasons 1 and 2 were mesmerizing viewing and Season 3 tops them both. A must-watch.