Christopher Eccleston has been reunited with a Doctor Who fan who made him cry when the two first met, and if anything, their latest chat got even more personal.
Last year, filmmaker Gerard Grove had the opportunity of a lifetime when he interviewed the Ninth Doctor about his new show The A Word on SundanceTV, in which Christopher plays a grandfather struggling to come to terms with his grandson’s autism.
Not only is Gerard a big Doctor Who fan (no prizes for guessing his favorite Doctor), but he also has Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism, and Christopher was visibly moved by his assertion that it was the Ninth Doctor who inspired him to start making films.
And now they’re back together again, as the second season of The A Word is about to hit our screens. The usually guarded star opened up to Gerard about some recent turmoil in his own private life, and admitting we can “all locate ourselves on the spectrum” to a certain extent.
When Gerard asked him what the show has taught him about autism, Christopher explained his character Morris has been forced to “become comfortable with the fact that he’s vulnerable,” before linking it with his relationship with his father, who passed away recently from Alzheimer’s.
“When you love somebody, who happens to have autism, you have to change,” he explained. “You have to change. You have to be led by them, not by your own ego.”
“I had it with my father, who had dementia for 12 years. There was a point at which I realized I had to stop trying to bring him into my world, because it’s causing him anxiety, because he can’t.”
“He’s my father. It was devastating. I knew I’d lost him. The father that I loved, and the father that I knew, but because he no longer knew himself, that had to be the priority.”
“People with dementia are still individuals. And they are still experiencing reality, and that has to be respected, therefore you move into their world. So, I became a friend to my dad. I didn’t insist that I was his son, because that distressed him. So I was his mate. I’d call him Ron instead of dad.”
All in all, it’s a frank and touching talk, between two self-confessed obsessives. And while Gerard’s obsessions include Doctor Who, Christopher admits his “big thing” is a certain type of soul music, with a particular fondness for the song “Soul Serenade” by Aretha Franklin.
Watch as the two bond over their favorite music:
The A Word returns to SundanceTV this Wednesday, November 8 at 10/9c.
Will you be watching?