Nominated as Best Pre-School Programme at the 2019 Broadcast Awards, “Pablo” is now streaming on Showmax in Africa.
Pablo is five-and-a-half and on the autism spectrum. To cope with the challenges he faces, the smart, funny and creative Pablo draws imaginary animal friends which come to life to help him handle situations that make him feel anxious, such as going for a haircut or to the supermarket.
The ground-breaking CBeebies and RTÉJr series is the first animated TV series to star an autistic character and the first TV programme with an all-autistic core cast. Every episode is grounded in the real-life experiences of autistic children, with autistic young writers and contributors helping to bring ideas and perspectives to life in an honest and humorous way.
“It would have been very easy to go down the road of talking to experts but we wanted to talk to people with autism,” creator Grainne McGuinness from Paper Owl Films told Ireland’sIndependent. “We wanted to get under the skin of how they saw the world. We have met some amazing kids as part of this show.”
McGuinness’ nephew Lucas is on the autistic spectrum and she dreamed up the show when he was Pablo’s age.
Pablo’s imaginary animal friends reflect parts of his own personality and, of course, his autism. For example, Mouse is a perfectionist who hates it when things are untidy or out of sequence; Noasaurus is a small dinosaur who can’t read social cues or facial expressions well but is great at recognising patterns or solving maths problems; Tang is resistant to change, which makes him feel very anxious; Wren is very excitable; Draff loves facts; and Llama is a thinker who doesn’t like physical displays of affection and repeats things that people say.
Pablo was nominated for a Children’s BAFTA this year and won the Torc Award for Excellence in Children’s Programming at the 2018 Celtic Media Festival but the biggest reward for the showrunners has been the feedback they’ve received: