The Assembly review

Feedback on the must-watch interview of the year from our Unity Representative Zara.

It’s not often that a group of people who are autistic, neurodivergent and learning disabled get the chance to interview a well-known actor, but in the BBC’s half hour special, The Assembly, they did just that.

The brave actor in question was Michael Sheen whose stage and screen career spans more than 30 years. However, he definitely shared the limelight with some outstanding performances from the interview panel. As you might expect, questions asked were direct and far-ranging and made for a very entertaining and insightful programme. The BBC describes it as ‘the grilling of a lifetime from the unique collective’.

The Assembly is based on a French show, Les Recontres du Papotin, in which neurodivergent journalists interviewed the likes of Emmanuel Macron and actor Camille Cottin. The UK version showcased some incredible talent among the 35 interviewers who ranged in age from 18 -77. There were singers and actors as well as budding journalists, giving them a welcome voice and agency. A recital of Dylan Thomas’s ‘Do not go gengle into that good night’ and a singalong of ‘Here comes the sun’ were poignant moments. Sheen, and no doubt many viewers, welled up with emotion at both points.

Unity Representative Zara watched The Assembly and said afterwards: “It was very educational. I just thought it was really moving, especially when they were singing at the end.

“They were being respectful and letting the interviewers take take their time, which is important and beneficial for those with disabilities. I found it all so moving. While I couldn’t keep track of it all, it was really enjoyable. I would recommend it for other people with autism if they want to watch it.”

Producers Rockerdale Studios are one of the few disabled-lead companies in the TV and film business. There are no plans at present for further episodes; this one was commissioned for Autism Acceptance Week.

Watch The Assembly: BBC iPlayer – The Assembly