BBC Remaking Award-winning Israeli Drama Series on Autism

Keren Margalit’s 'Yellow Peppers' tells the story of a farming family at an isolated moshav, dealing with the realization that their son has autism. It will be adapted for BBC in six episodes.

Ruta Kupfer
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A scene from Keren Margalit’s 'Yellow Peppers.'
A scene from Keren Margalit’s 'Yellow Peppers.'
Ruta Kupfer

The BBC has bought the rights to Keren Margalit’s television series “Yellow Peppers” for a British adaptation. This is the first time the BBC, which is synonymous with quality in television, is remaking an Israeli drama series, and only the second time it will be developing a foreign-inspired drama at all.

Filming of the series, which was produced in Israel by July August Productions and broadcast on Keshet, will begin in the summer of 2015 and is slated for broadcast at the start of 2016.

The series, which will be called “The ‘A’ Word,” will be produced in six episodes by Fifty Fathoms Productions and Tiger Aspect, in cooperation with Keshet UK. The British adaptation will be written for BBC1 by playwright and screenwriter Peter Bowker, who is credited with series like “Blackpool,” “Occupation” and “Wuthering Heights.”

“Yellow Peppers” creator Keren Margalit, Keshet CEO Avi Nir and director of the Keshet UK drama and productions department Sara Johnson will be responsible for the production.

“Yellow Peppers,” a series that has won praise and awards in Israel, was first broadcast in December 2010. It tells the story of a farming family that runs a pepper export business at an isolated moshav in the Arava desert, and deals with the realization that their son has autism.

Its second season was broadcast in 2014 and it became the second most watched drama that year. The series raked in eight prizes at the Academy for Television and Film awards ceremony.

Margalit and the series represented Israel at the International Autism Awareness Day at United Nations headquarters in New York and the series is shown at television festivals worldwide.

Commenting on the BBC acquisition, Margalit says, “’Yellow Peppers’ was made with a lot of truth, passion and commitment on the part of everyone who was involved in it. It’s thrilling and a little scary to send your child out with a set of earphones all the way from the Arava to the lakes in the Lake District. But it is comforting to know that one of the best boarding schools in the world awaits him there.”

Bowker has told Keshet that he loves the series and has tried to respect the original during the course of the writing, adding that the project affords an opportunity to do something funny, tough and realistic about the life of a family dealing with autism in a society in which any imperfection comes with guilt.

He noted that it seems right to examine the way the family and the wider society relate to autism. It is, he said, a drama full of ideas about parenting, disability, communication and community, which will connect to viewers.

“Keshet is delighted to be the organization that is bringing the voices of Israeli creative people, like Keren Margalit, to one of the leading television channels in the world," said Nir. "When a quality home for drama like the BBC chooses ‘Yellow Peppers,' it acknowledges the importance of the series and its unique voice.”

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