TV review: BBC autism sitcom

June 24, 2024

Dinosaur sitcom promotion with acknowledgements to the BBC/Hulu

Exposure’s autistic author, Max Ferreira reviews a new TV comedy young people like him can relate to

Whenever I watch British TV sitcoms I like the bizarre storylines and seeing funny characters included, like in Only Fools and Horses, Mr Bean and Mrs Brown’s Boys. One day I come across a new BBC/Hulu sitcom called Dinosaur that features a character with autism.

And no there won’t be actual dinosaurs coming back from extinction in the programme.

Created by Matilda Curtis and Ashley Storrie the six-part sitcom is about a Glasgow palaeontologist, Nina (Ashley Storrie) with autism who has her everyday life shaken when sister Evie (Kat Ronney) announces she is about to marry Ranesh (Danny Ashok). They’ve only been together for six weeks.

What I like about the sitcom is how Nina manages to participate in activities young people with autism find challenging, like meeting Ranesh’s father Sachi (Sanjeev Kohli) and having a bond with Lee (Lorn Macdonald) who runs the coffee van outside her workplace at the museum.

According to actor Ashley Storrie, “The good thing about being Nina is she’s an unmasked autistic person. I would love to be able to just be how my brain wants to be without having to apologise for it or ask permission but that is not the world we live in.”

Unlike BBC One’s Drama series The A Word, about a family struggling to understand Joe’s behaviour as a young boy, Dinosaur showcases the strange and strict behaviours of a young autistic adult like Nina, depending on how the day goes for her.

For example, in episode one, when her boss Shane (Ben Rufus Green) invites Nina to go bowling after work, she rejects it due to her weekly activity of ‘takeaway Tuesday’. But when she becomes uncomfortable, because Ranesh comes on the day, she changes her mind on the spot and goes bowling with her work colleagues.

I also like the chemistry between Nina and Evie as sisters. Even though Nina’s behaviour can set them back, they have each other’s sides in the series, from Evie’s engagement news to the big day itself.

As a young person with autism I found Dinosaur entertaining, unusual and relatable

After its release in April 2024, journalist Jack Seale from the Guardian said this in his review, “Dinosaur feels like a natural progression from the run of recent dramas, dramedies and documentaries that have given autistic people a long overdue voice and prominence on television, while on occasion not giving them room to be anything beyond people with autism.”

This means, after years of studying and understanding the experience of lots of young autistic people, they’ve come a long way to express and share their stories, like Chris Packham’s TV programme Inside our Autistic Minds and Elle McNicoll’s debut novel A Kind of Spark.

As a young person with autism I found Dinosaur entertaining, unusual and relatable. It showcases the real experiences of young people with autism and learning difficulties, growing up and going through sudden changes in life, just like myself.

It illustrates conquering everyday tasks like socialising, problem solving and doing something outside your comfort zone.

Although young people with autism prefer to stick to a schedule and keep doing the same things, with support, patience, a back-up plan and coping strategies, they’ll be able to try and experience new things with minimal stress and anxiety.

I recommend giving  this new sitcom a try as you’ll be unexpectedly surprised when you watch it.

More information on autism and changes can be found at the National Autistic Society.

You can watch Dinosaurs now on BBC iPlayer.