In a Joe-lite episode, Paul goes to a gig, Maurice (Christopher Eccleston) continues to get it wrong with would-be love interest Louise, and Alison discovers that brother Eddie’s new girlfriend is strangely familiar.
In a welcome move, some of the minor characters are brought to the fore in this week’s episode of The A Word. One of the main plotlines is around Maurice’s cack-handed attempts to support would-be lover Louise as she begins a course of chemotherapy to treat her breast cancer, whether she wants his help or not. Even Louise’s son, Ralph, sees Maurice for the romancing idiot he is, telling him “You don’t understand women, do you?” with a completely straight face.
The dialogue between Maurice and Louise is an absolute highlight and their scenes are played to perfection by former Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston and the fabulous Pooky Quesnel. We completely feel Louise’s utter frustration at Maurice’s insistence on ‘helping’ her.
In Manchester, the only place with a school that Joe can go to within 100 miles of the Lake District, Alison and Joe are staying in Eddie’s flat. Alison is back to her old manipulative games as she engineers a meeting with Eddie’s new girlfriend, who’s hilariously familiar to everyone except Eddie. It’s almost a relief to see Alison revert to her old series 1 self here as she pokes her nose in all kinds of places it’s not wanted while apparently oblivious to the effect she has on other people’s feelings.
Alison’s husband Paul, left alone in the Lake District, takes employee Sophie and her son Mark to a gig. To say this experience has a huge impact on Paul would be to flirt recklessly with understatement. You’ll watch in varying degrees of agony as Paul deals with the gig and its aftermath.
Nicola’s dad Vincent has a share of lovely moments this week as he continues to try to fix his daughter’s broken marriage. He’s also working on something that may be important for Joe.
While this episode may be light on Joe moments, the scenes we do see of the little boy at the centre of this story are very telling. We see Joe dealing with his every day life with lists and labels and a timer. We see trough Joe’s eyes through the disposable camera he’s been given. We also hear from Joe how he processes information as he sees dad Paul for the first time in a week and he talks to sister Rebecca about James being gone. Once again, this is exceptional from writer Peter Bowker and actor Max Vento.
The laughs continue this week. There’s our introduction to three new pets, Eddie’s shirt collection, and some very important advice on dealing with a break-up.
But the hands down funniest/most agonising part of this week’s episode is two scenes involving Maurice and some peppermint foot cream.
This series has settled into a wonderful groove. Peter Bowker, Sue Tully and the cast have created a drama that deftly moves from laugh out loud to full-on drama and back again. If you haven’t given it a chance yet, then you really should.
You can watch The A Word series 2, episode 3 on BBC One on Tuesday 21 November 2017 at 9pm. You can catch up with previous episodes on the BBC iPlayer.
Written by Peter Bowker, Director Sue Tully, Producer Jenny Frayn