BBC The Way branded 'pretentious drivel' as divisive premiere sparks 'switch off' of Michael Sheen drama

BBC The Way branded 'pretentious drivel' as divisive premiere sparks 'switch off' of Michael Sheen drama

BBC releases first look trailer at The Way

Alex Davies

By Alex Davies

Published: 20/02/2024

- 11:05

The Port Talbot-based dystopian drama kicked off on Monday

Michael Sheen's brain-child The Way got underway on BBC One on Monday evening to tell the story of one family's desperate plight for safety in a dystopian Wales.

Much had been said of the Beeb's newest drama offering before it'd even aired as it went head-to-head with ITV's latest mini-series Breathtaking - which also received less than favourable reviews.

Critics had been well and truly divided by The Way ahead of its release with some lauding the drama for its political symbolism while others accused it of having anti-UK tones.

For instance in the press, a one-star review in the Standard branded it "preachy and artless" while The Guardian awarded it four stars and lauded it as " utterly innovative" and "head and shoulders above the usual fare".

This division was evident among those who tuned in to see how the Driscoll family fared amid the chaos of a violent uprising in the town of Port Talbot during the premiere.

"Gave up on #TheWay 45 minutes in. Dire," one X, formerly Twitter, user critiqued before a second similarly switched off: "#TheWay what an absolute shower of s***e, waste of an hour!"

Steffan Rhodri

Steffan Rhodri stars in a leading role on BBC's The Way


A third has high expectations: "I wanted to like a pro-Wales, anti-establishment TV show more than anything, but #TheWay is just absolutely boring s***e."

As did a fourth: "I really, really wanted to like #TheWay, especially as it's filmed locally; but so far, it's been nearly 40 minutes of pretentious drivel."

"#TheWay on BBC1. Contender for worst drama of the decade." a fifth brutally said while another slammed the series' depiction of Wales: "Can't we have a drama set in Wales that isn't grim. Wales is a beautiful place full of diverse people, every drama that comes out of Wales is daft and grim 󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿#theway."

However, amid the fury were some who jumped to the show's defence, including one viewer who acknowledged the mixed reviews as they hit back: "The Way was certainly a very hard hitting dystopian drama from Michael sheen on @BBCOne this evening, seems like it's divided audiences and reviews, thought it was pretty good myself certainly bold of the BBC to commission it #theway."

Callum Scott Howells

Callum Scott Howells also stars in the dystopian BBC drama


"Watching #TheWay. I've done two episodes so far and seen some cruel reviews," a second fan said. "I think it's a brilliant and clever exploration of Welshness. Maybe you have to be Welsh to understand it. Da iawn ond cymhleth." (sic)

Anticipation for The Way had been high ahead of Monday's divisive premiere as not only did it have a big name like Sheen attached, but the cast boasts some rather big names.

Gavin and Stacey star Steffan Rhodri, Hinterland's Mali Harries, It's A Sin's Callum Scott Howells, The Pact's Sophie Melville and Sheen himself lead the cast as the Driscolls.

They find a nemesis in the first episode in the form of Hogwood who's played by Hollywood A-lister Luke Evans.

Michael Sheen and Steffan Rhodri

The Way on BBC: Michael Sheen and Steffan Rhodri lead the drama


An official synopsis from the BBC reads: "The Way taps into the social and political chaos of today’s world by imagining a civil uprising which begins in a small industrial town.

"Fleeing unrest, The Driscolls are forced to escape the country they’ve always called home and the certainties of their old lives.

"Will they be overwhelmed by their memories of the past, or will they lay their ghosts to rest and take the risk of an unknown future?"

The entire series has been made available to stream online following Monday's premiere.

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