Christopher Eccleston reveals how the autism community has embraced his BBC1 drama The A Word as it returns for second series

Christopher Eccleston has been overwhelmed by the reaction that the first series of The A Word received from the autism community.

“I’ve been in a lot of stuff that’s had strong reactions but I get stopped about The A Word more than anything,” the actor told What’s on TV. “People say, ‘Thank you for making it’, because their son, their daughter, their grandson or their friend of a friend is on the spectrum. But they also thank us for making it positive and funny.”

The first run of the Lake District-set BBC1 drama, which also stars Morven Christie and Lee Ingleby, gave an emotional but honest look at a troubled family’s battle to deal with their son Joe’s autism diagnosis.

A Word

Now, as The A Word returns for a second series, the action has moved on two years. However, the family remains anxious about his future as Joe (Max Vento), now seven, starts to find mainstream school difficult and they face a big decision over whether to send him to a specialist school.

“In series one it was about them going into denial. Now we see the positivity that Joe’s condition brings but it also asks what his development through life is going to bring,” said Christopher, who plays Joe’s grandfather Maurice.

“It’s also about how the family rallies round and has to look at their own behaviour, because they are all failing to communicate.”

A Word Maurice

Meanwhile, Maurice’s fractured relationship with ex-lover Louise (Pooky Quesnel) is set to take a fresh twist. Her son Ralph (Leon Harrop), who has Down’s Syndrome, asks Maurice for a job at his brewery. When Louise begs Maurice not to employ him, what is she hiding?

“The light is still burning in Maurice for Louise. He is trying to relight her fire but we find out more about her life with Ralph,” said Christopher. “A real double act develops between Ralph and Maurice.”

 The A Word returns to BBC1 on Tuesday 7th November at 9pm