BBC One has greenlit a spin-off series to The A Word, focussing on well-loved characters Ralph (Leon Harrop) and Katie (Sarah Gordy).
Ralph and Katie, written by Peter Bowker alongside a team of emerging disabled writers, will continue telling the story of the young, newly-married couple with Down’s Syndrome as they embark on “the biggest adventure of their lives”.
The six part series will follow Ralph and Katie as they navigate their first year of married life whilst dealing with the various domestic challenges they meet along the way – “challenges faced by all newlyweds, but with the added fact that they have Down’s Syndrome”.
Sarah Gordy, who became the first person with Down’s Syndrome to be awarded an MBE in 2018 and has appeared in Upstairs Downstairs, Call the Midwife and Doctors, said: “It is great to be able to take the character of Katie forward after her exciting journey in series three of The A Word.”
“The wedding and the dress was a dream come true for Katie. I am so looking forward to seeing what comes next in Ralph and Katie’s married life,” she added.
In Ralph and Katie, Gordy will be acting opposite her The A Word co-star Leon Harrop, who prior to the BBC One series, featured in Brassic, Moving On and The Street.
The A Word creator Peter Bowker said in a statement that Ralph and Katie is a “natural step forwards” from the BBC series “to increase representation and diversity both on and off screen”.
“Equally exciting is the opportunity to work again with two young actors as talented as Leon and Sarah,” he added. “It is a tribute to their performances in The A Word that the BBC have commissioned this series.”
Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival, BBC Drama Controller Piers Wenger said: “We just commissioned today a new series from the creator and writer of The A Word, Ralph and Katie, which is taking two characters from that series and giving them their own show. We saw them just get married at the end of series three, and Ralph and Katie is going to be series of half-hour episodes detailing the lives of those two characters as newlyweds. And it’s going to be written by a team of disabled writers.”
The A Word, which also stars Christopher Eccleston and Morven Christie, began airing on BBC One in 2016, following the story of an autistic boy named Joe Hughes (Max Vento).
Eccleston has previously spoken about Leon Harrop becoming the star of his own series, telling RadioTimes.com in June that audiences should be open and accepting to people with disabilities leading TV series.
“I think Leon is perfectly capable in the right circumstances of leading and carrying his own series,” he said.
“I think in the past that’s never been done because, quote unquote, people say ‘they’ can’t do it. And Leon clearly can. Leon’s got the charisma, the presence, and the technical and creative ability to lead his own series.”