Small screen gems

Sitting comfortably? Tracey Harding recommends five excellent feature films, a BAFTA-winning TV series and a radio drama that you can access online or on DVD from your sofa

Coming Down the Mountain (2007)

Available on Amazon Prime

This television film was written by Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and was first shown on the BBC. A drama about the relationship between two brothers – David, who is 15 years old (Nicholas Hoult) and his slightly older brother Ben (Tommy Jessup) who has Down’s syndrome. David resents the attention his parents give to his older brother and, when the family moves from London to Derbyshire so Ben can attend a special school, David’s resentment becomes all consuming, with potentially dangerous consequences.


Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)

Amazon Prime, Google Play Movies, YouTube

After running away from a residential home to pursue his dream of becoming  a wrestler, Zak, a man with learning disabilities, befriends ex-criminal Tyler (Shia LeBeouf) who becomes his ally. A feelgood adventure with outstanding performances from all, especially Zack Gottsagen as Zak.


Sanctuary (2016)

Available on Amazon Prime, Google Play Movies, YouTube

A story of two people with learning disabilities who want to be together, which explores with humour and sensitivity the difficulties they face in their attempts to form a relationship. The film highlights the injustice of a now overturned Irish law banning premarital sex for people with learning disabilities. Lighthearted and funny, with a range of fine performances, it is definitely worth a watch.


My Feral Heart (2016)

Available on YouTube, Google Play Movies, Amazon Prime

When his mother dies, Luke, a young man with Down’s syndrome, is forced to move into a care home. After sneaking out to explore the countryside, he meets a young woman who changes the way he thinks about his life. Starring Steven Brandon, who gives a magnetic performance as Luke, this is a thoughtful portrait of disability.


Le Huitième Jour (The 8th Day) (1996)

Available on DVD

This subtitled Belgian film is a comedy drama that tells the story of the friendship between Harry (Daniel Auteuil), a divorced businessman, and George (Pascal Duquenne), who he meets when he nearly runs over him. George, who has Down’s syndrome, has escaped from an institution. The chemistry between the two leads is wonderful and the film is both funny and heartfelt.


The A Word. Series 3 (2020)

Available on BBC iPlayer

The third series of this BAFTA-winning programme has been praised for its scripts and performances centred around 10-year-old Joe who has autism, and the family and extended family that support him. The series, however, is not just about autism; it is equally about the complicated family relationships of the people around Joe, with the emotion and traumas entailed. There are six episodes in series 3 and the first two series are also available on BBC iPlayer.


Assisted Loving (2019)

Available on BBC Sounds

Finally, a recommendation for a radio show, originally broadcast on Radio 4. Assisted Loving follows Sui-Ling Tang navigating her way through the difficulties that society has with the concept of relationships between people with learning disabilities. She sets out to discover why love, sexual relationships and romance are still so taboo for these people. With the help of author Kathy Lette, she looks at the laws that can decide whether someone has the capacity to consent to sex.