fri 05/06/2020

The A Word, Series 3, BBC One review - Christopher Eccleston steals the show | reviews, news & interviews

The A Word, Series 3, BBC One review - Christopher Eccleston steals the show

The A Word, Series 3, BBC One review - Christopher Eccleston steals the show

Peter Bowker skilfully delivers a superior brand of soap

Morven Christie as Alison, Christopher Eccleston as Maurice

Christopher Eccleston isn’t the easiest actor to love, because he gives the impression he’ll reach through the screen and grab you by the throat if you don’t appreciate his ferocious thespian intensity, but with the role of Maurice Scott in The A Word (BBC One), he’s found the perfect vehicle for his particular set of skills. Loud, bossy and as subtle as a category 5 hurricane, Maurice is the show’s big-hearted patriarch.

For this opener to series 3 of Peter Bowker’s drama about families dealing with autism (and many other things), Maurice seized centre stage as his Lake District home became Mission Control. Here he was, giving remarkably perceptive pregnancy advice to Rebecca, his teenage granddaughter. When his daughter Alison (Morven Christie) lost her job in Manchester, Maurice was instantly on the scene, draping her in an emotional comfort-blanket. When Louise (Pooky Quesnel) was stunned to find that her son and Down’s Syndrome sufferer Ralph (Leon Harrop) was preparing move into a flat with his girlfriend Katie (Sarah Gordy), it was Maurice who smoothed choppy emotional waters with his sympathetic insights into Ralph’s feelings.

It was empathy-max, and this was all (as Maurice reminded us) at the same time as he was running a hiking group, singing in the local choir, learning Spanish and being a volunteer firefighter. The only snag is, he’s ignoring his doctor’s warnings about cholesterol and blood pressure.

Beside Eccleston, everyone else looked pallid (his son Eddie would make a hologram seem substantial). Alison’s ex Paul (Lee Ingleby) is reeling after a fire in his new house, as well as the realisation that his autistic son Joe (Max Vento, pictured above with Ingleby) is happier with mum in Manchester than with him in Cumbria. Alison hates herself for the way her long struggle to protect Joe has made her prickly and hostile. As for Joe, he’s got his Eighties bands back in his headphones so you’d guess he’ll make it through.

Bowker’s writing is as skilful as ever, knitting plot and character together with enviable deftness. So skilful, in fact, that you almost can’t see the join where The A Word slides into soap.

Alison hates herself for the way her long struggle to protect Joe has made her prickly and hostile

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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