As the BBC's much-loved drama The A Word returns for a third season, much has changed - and much has stayed the same.


That also applies to the cast, with key actors returning to their roles (Christopher Eccleston, Lee Ingleby, Morven Christie...) and new actors joining for the latest series (Julie Hesmondhalgh, David Gyasi...). Here's who you'll see on screen:

Max Vento plays Joe Hughes

Max Vento plays Joe Hughes in The A Word

Who is Joe Hughes? As we meet him for series three, Joe is now 10-years-old and living in two places at once after his parents' divorce, "processing the seismic change in his life through the filter of his autism".

What else has Max Vento been in? The young actor has also appeared in two short films, Cotton Wool and Empty Spaces.

Lee Ingleby plays Paul Hughes

Lee Ingleby plays Paul Hughes in The A Word

Who is Paul Hughes? Joe's father.

What else has Lee Ingleby been in? Aside from his role as Knight Bus conductor Stan Shunpike in the 2004 movie Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Lee Ingleby is mainly known for his TV work. Recent roles have included David Collins in Innocent, currently repeating on ITV; the voice of Captain Campion in Watership Down; and Nick Huntley in the 2017 series of Line of Duty. He's also a voice actor for Bob the Builder, and played John Bacchus in Inspector George Gently. Other credits include Our Zoo, The Five, White Heat, and Early Doors.

Morven Christie plays Alison Hughes

Morven Christie plays Alison Hughes in The A Word

Who is Alison Hughes? Joe's mother.

What else has Morven Christie been in? Morven Christie recently starred as DS Lisa Armstrong in ITV's The Bay. She's also known for playing Amanda Hopkins in Grantchester, and Kirsten Lindstrom in Agatha Christie adaptation Ordeal by Innocence. Before that, there were roles in The Replacement, Doctor Who (as "O'Donnell"), Hunted, Twenty Twelve, and Lost in Austen.

Christopher Eccleston plays Maurice Scott

Christopher Eccleston plays Maurice Scott in The A Word

Who is Maurice Scott? Joe's grandfather, and Alison's father. He is a widower, and since series one has had a complicated relationship with local woman Louise Wilson.

What else has Christopher Eccleston been in? Many will, of course, know Christopher Eccleston best as the Ninth Doctor from Doctor Who – a role he left in 2005. Since then, he's starred as Claude in the TV series Heroes, Joseph Bede in The Shadow Line, Robert in Safe House, Matt Jamison in The Leftovers, and Greg in Come Home. The actor first rose to fame in TV shows including Our Friends in the North, Hillsborough, Hearts and Minds, and Cracker. His film credits include Let Him have It, Shallow Grave, and 28 Days Later.

Pooky Quesnel plays Louise Wilson

Pooky Quesnel plays Louise Wilson in The A Word

Who is Louise Wilson? A music teacher, who has a complex relationship with Maurice. Her son Ralph has Down's Syndrome.

What else has Pooky Quesnel been in? One of Pooky Quesnel's first big TV roles was as Dr Monica Broome in Cardiac Arrest (1994), the debut drama by Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio. More recently, she's played Mo Buckley in gripping TV thriller The Victim, Fiona Craig in W1A, Marion in Kiss Me First, Dorothea Ames in Class, and Mrs Phillips in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Leon Harrop plays Ralph

Leon Harrop plays Ralph in The A Word

Who is Ralph? Louise's son, who has Down's Syndrome. In series two, Maurice decided to employ Ralph at the brewery.

What else has Leon Harrop been in? The actor's first TV appearance was in 2009 TV drama The Street. More recently he's played Albie in Sky comedy Brassic, George in Moving On, and Lee in From There To Here.

Sarah Gordy plays Katie

Sarah Gordy plays Katie in The A Word

Who is Katie? Ralph's girlfriend, who he's been dating for the last two years.

What else has Sarah Gordy been in? Sarah Gordy MBE played Lady Pamela Holland in the BBC drama Upstairs Downstairs, and worked again with screenwriter Heidi Thomas on her other show, Call the Midwife. She's also played Orlando Quine in Strike, and appeared in Doctors and Holby City.

Greg McHugh plays Eddie Scott

Greg McHugh plays Eddie Scott in The A Word

Who is Eddie? Alison's brother, and Maurice's son. His ex-wife Nicola (Vinette Robinson) lives in London with their young daughter Emily, and Eddie sees her every other weekend – but the rest of the time he's living with his dad and running the family brewery.

What else has Greg McHugh been in? He's played David Hennessey in Traitors, Hamish in A Discovery of Witches, Howard in the sitcom Fresh Meat, and Gary McLintoch in Gary Tank Commander.

Julie Hesmondhalgh plays Heather

Julie Hesmondhalgh plays Heather in The A Word

Who is Heather? A teacher.

What else has Julie Hesmondhalgh been in? Coronation Street fans will remember her as Hayley Cropper (FKA Hayley Patterson), a role she played for 1277 episodes between 1998 and 2014. Since then, she’s starred as Amanda Wadsworth in Happy Valley, Cleo Whitaker in Cucumber, and Trish Winterman in Broadchurch – a performance which earned her a BAFTA nomination. She played Judy Maddox in the Doctor Who episode Kerblam!, and starred alongside Dawn French in ITV's The Trouble with Maggie Cole.

Molly Wright plays Rebecca Hughes

Molly Wright plays Rebecca Hughes in The A Word

Who is Rebecca Hughes? Alison's daughter, and Joe's older half-sister. Her biological father is Stuart, played by Ralf Little.

What else has Molly Wright been in? The young actress played Lulu Lane in the 2016 series of Our Girl; she was also Alex in the movie Apostasy.

Ian Puleston-Davies plays Doug

Ian Puleston-Davies plays Doug in The A Word

Who is Doug? Ralph's father. He left ten years ago, but now – on the eve of Ralph's wedding – he's reappeared, upsetting Louise.

What else has Ian Puleston-Davies been in? He played Owen Armstrong in Coronation Street for five years, quitting the show in 2015. Since then, he's played Mick O'Callaghan in the true crime drama A Confession, Mr Pennyworth in the TV series Pennyworth, Ray Bilton in Hatton Garden on ITV, Peter Cullen in Marcella, and Frank in Tin Star.

David Gyasi plays Ben

David Gyasi plays Ben in The A Word

Who is Ben? A new character in series three. As his character description goes, "Born in London, Ben moved to Manchester when he was 19, and he now considers the city his home. The last 20 years have seen him set up his own business as a landscape gardener, get married, have a daughter – Molly, who's 11 – get divorced, and set up home on his own as a weekend dad. The first time Ben meets Alison, she picks a fight with him over Joe... and Joe becomes the reason they keep on meeting. Ben has an ease with Joe that not many people have. He'd call it laziness, but what Alison sees is someone ho takes Joe as he finds him, who isn't in his face all the time. It's new to Alison, and she finds herself liking Ben all the more because of it..."

What else has David Gyasi been in? The actor previously appeared alongside his The A Word co-star Lee Ingleby in the 2012 series White Heat. Since then, he's played Percival in the movie Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Agreus Astrayon in Carnival Row, Achilles in Troy: Fall of a City, and Lex Carnahan in the TV series Containment. David Gyasi also appeared in Interstellar (playing Romilly) and the 2012 movie Cloud Atlas.

Gemma Paige North plays Sarah Hibbs

Gemma Paige North plays Sarah Hibbs in The A Word

Who is Sarah Hibbs? A character who's made a handful of appearances in previous series of The A Word. She's a single mother with a ten-year-old son, Bill, who has a variety of health problems.

What else has Gemma Paige North been in? Recent roles have included Mrs Conners in Peaky Blinders, Lou in So Awkward, and Sally Jameson in Butterfly.

Matt Greenwood plays Tom Clarke

Matt Greenwood plays Tom Clarke in The A Word

Who is Tom Clarke? Rebecca's best friend.

What else has Matt Greenwood been in? He's had small roles in Giri/Haji (as Rodney's friend), Bohemian Rhapsody, Casualty, and Waterloo Road.

Travis Smith plays Mark

Travis Smith plays Mark in The A Word

Who is Mark? A teenager with autism. He's the son of Sophie Berwick, who worked at Paul's gastropub, and now Mark works there himself as a waiter.


What else has Travis Smith been in? The young actor made his acting debut in The A Word.