Ralph & Katie, review: The A Word spin-off will charm even the most cynical old goat

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Leon Harrop and Sarah Gordy – two actors with Down’s syndrome – lead this heart-warming, ground-breaking comedy-drama

Ralph & Katie, review: The A Word spin-off will charm even the most cynical old goat
Leon Harrop and Sarah Gordy in Ralph & Katie
Leon Harrop and Sarah Gordy in Ralph & Katie CREDIT: BBC/BBC

If you’re in the market for a gentle comedy-drama in which nothing bad happens, then Ralph & Katie (BBC One) may be the thing for you. The Ralph and Katie of the title are newlyweds in a charming little town in the Lake District. The show is a spin-off from The A Word, the BBC series about a family living with autism, but don’t worry if you haven’t seen that, because this show stands on its own. 

Ralph (Leon Harrop) and Katie (Sarah Gordy) are the couple navigating married life. Both have Down’s syndrome, but this isn’t a series about disability. It’s a series about two people experiencing the usual relationship mini-dramas – misunderstandings, a mother who won’t stop sticking her oar in – while living with Down’s. It’s an important distinction. 

The show is heartwarming – the production values seem to bathe everything in a rosy glow – but that’s not down to the disability either. It’s just one of those cosy sorts of shows, like Doc Martin, where every character is a good person and every situation can be happily resolved by the end of each episode (and they are only half an hour long). 

Besides the two leads, there are several recurring characters. Danny (Dylan Brady) is Ralph and Katie’s support worker, and Emma (Jamie Marie Leary) is Katie’s friend and colleague. Craig Cash is the next-door neighbour, Brian, introduced to us with his ruminations on living next door to a disabled couple: “Can’t hold back the tide of progress, can you? Solar power, Islam, Deliveroo…” Cash brings the same level of whimsy that he brought to Early Doors, which is altogether too much whimsy for me but your tolerance may be higher. 

The show can tip over into saccharine and sanitised, and something about the set – the couple’s house is so perfectly decorated it doesn’t seem lived in – says CBBC rather than 9pm on BBC One. Danny in particular could do with a bit more bite. But it gets by on charm and two winning lead performances. Harrop has great comic timing and the best character to play, because Ralph has a deadpan delivery and can be bluntly rude. 

However much of a cynical old goat you are, a party scene in episode two in which Ralph leads Danny through a dance routine will brighten your day.

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