Ralph & Katie review: The A Word spinoff with Leon Harrop and Sarah Gordy is a warm and inviting comedy

Ralph & Katie is a lighthearted family-friendly show about newlyweds –tha’ts also entirely unlike anything else on television

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Ralph & Katie, like all good spinoffs, very quickly feels like a show with its own identity. Both Ralph (Leon Harrop) and Katie (Sarah Gordy) were first introduced in The A Word; their wedding came in the final episode of the third series of the family drama, and Ralph & Katie charts their first steps into married life. Each half-hour episode, structured as a series of little slice of life vignettes, deals with different aspects of their marriage – how they resolve their first major argument, how they support each other through a health scare, how their parents feel about them moving out for the first time, so on and so forth.

Even as it’s built out of another show, Ralph & Katie isn’t The A Word Series 4 – there’s obviously similarities between the two series, of course, the same kind of underlying sensibility, but this show very much stands on its own too. What’s immediately apparent is how much it feels like Ralph & Katie is built around Harrop and Gordy’s strengths as actors – it was always clear on The A Word, for example, that Harrop had great comic timing as Ralph, and the more comedic tone of Ralph & Katie gives him plenty of opportunity to demonstrate that.

The real draw of the series though is Harrop and Gordy’s chemistry together (the title is a bit of a clue that way). They’re great scene partners, and it’s easy to invest in Ralph and Katie’s relationship quickly – the gentle, lighthearted tone of the series grows from that relationship and how Harrop and Gordy play their parts, always full of affection even when their characters are at odds with one another. Again, like all good spinoffs, there’s a sense that you’re getting a deeper look at the lives of key supporting characters – who more than thrive here as leads.

Around them, there’s a great ensemble cast too. New characters like as newly hired and unconventional support worker Danny (Dylan Brady) and Katie’s bakery colleague Emma (Jamie Marie Leary) are welcome additions to this world, always reliably entertaining and feeling right at home alongside familiar faces from The A Word like Louise (Pooky Quesnel) and Tom (Matt Greenwood). They click well as a group, and it’s nice watching their lives intersect.

Leon Harrop as Ralph and Sarah Gordy as Katie, sat together on the sofa. Ralph has his leg in a cast and there are crutches to one side of the sofa (Credit: ITV Studios/BBC)Leon Harrop as Ralph and Sarah Gordy as Katie, sat together on the sofa. Ralph has his leg in a cast and there are crutches to one side of the sofa (Credit: ITV Studios/BBC)
Leon Harrop as Ralph and Sarah Gordy as Katie, sat together on the sofa. Ralph has his leg in a cast and there are crutches to one side of the sofa (Credit: ITV Studios/BBC)

What’s notable about Ralph & Katie, of course, is that it’s the product of disabled creatives behind as well as in front of the camera: the series was scripted by a group of emerging d/Deaf, disabled, and neurodivergent writers, while director Jordan Hogg has cerebal palsy. It’s a genuinely rare thing on television to see disabled stories told by disabled creative talent, and Ralph & Katie is a clear demonstration of why that shouldn’t be so rare – there’s a real care and craft here, and it’s clear how important it was to everyone involved to get things right.

The show benefits a lot from that, and its storytelling is deeper and more thoughtful because it’s rooted in that sense of authenticity. For example, the second episode sees Ralph learn about an ex-partner of Katie’s he didn’t realise existed – it’s less a story about straightforward jealousy, though, and more about Ralph’s own anxieties about what he perceives as a lack of life experience of his own. It’s the sort of approach that grows out of having those voices in the writers room, and one that means Ralph & Katie is – for all that it’s also recognisably a lighthearted family-friendly show about newlyweds – entirely unlike anything else on television.

It sometimes feels a bit insubstantial to say a show is “nice”, almost as if that’s all it is – Ralph & Katie is nice, used here to mean warm and inviting and likeable, but it’s also thoughtful and funny and genuinely very watchable. It’s a series that’s well worth your time – both this year and, hopefully, for many more years to come.

Ralph & Katie begins on BBC One on Wednesday 5 October at 9pm, with every episode available as part of a boxset on iPlayer as well. I saw two episodes of an eventual six before writing this review; you can read more of our TV reviews here.

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