Moving comedy drama The A Word has returned to BBC One for a third series.

The first two series of the hit show, which stars Christopher Eccleston, Lee Ingleby and Morven Christie, were noteworthy for its use of the stunning Lake District locations.

Every episode of the first two series began with the central character, a young schoolboy with autism named Joe, walking through the beautiful countryside listening to his favourite music.

In series 3 the story picks up three years on and we find 10-year-old Joe, who is played by Max Vento, struggling to cope with the changes to his life.

The cast of The A Word BBC/Fifty Fathoms/Ben Blackall

His parents Alison and Paul (Christie and Ingleby) have divorced and Joe is spending his time between his student mother’s flat in Manchester and his family home in the Lakes.

Paul has moved in with his father in law Maurice (Eccleston) while doing up a house for him Joe.

Both Alison and Paul are tentatively getting back into the dating game, while back in Manchester, Joe has developed a bond with his new primary school teacher Heather, played by Julie Hesmondhalgh.

More changes are on the horizon as Joe’s sister Rebecca returns from university with big news, and Alison’s brother Eddie is made an offer he can’t refuse. 

The A Word BBC/Fifty Fathoms/Ben Blackall

The six-part drama revisits the funny, messy, mixed-up lives of the Hughes and Scott families as they struggle to do their best as parents, carers and lovers, and to work out what’s really important in the face of nothing ever feeling normal.

Talking about the locations that the series was filmed in, Phil McKay from Lakeside Castings of Carlisle, said before series 2: “The filming has taken place around Coniston and Keswick. It represents a big chance for local people and it's nice to have a bunch of extras from all walks of life.

"It's good for them to get involved and have an insight of what's going on in their village. It's positive that the filming went ahead despite the floods that have affected so many people in the county, it gives them a boost.”

Lakeside Castings provided 200 extras for the film.

The scenery of the Lake District as seen in The A Word BBC/Fifty Fathoms/Ben Blackall

Speaking about the beautiful setting, Eccleston said: "Filming here has been great. The Lakes obviously give us an extensive backdrop; we don't just want the obvious beauty, we want the full scale and all the different weather. Here, we certainly have had that.

"We have had a wonderful welcome from the people who live here, which is important to us. People seem to embrace the show because of the issues that are in it.

"We are used to having programmes like this having an urban setting, but an issue like autism touches all members of society. Bringing a child up with autism somewhere like Cumbria has its own set of problems."

Julie Hesmondhalgh and Christopher Eccleston in The A Word BBC/Fifty Fathoms/Ben Blackall

The key locations used for filming are Keswick, the Lake District market town that is surrounded by the stunning mountains of Skiddaw, and Coniston, a Cumbrian village in the Furness region.

The show also shoots scenes in Thirlmere, a reservoir in the Borough of Allerdale.

With Alison moving to Manchester, the cast have filmed in the Wythenshawe, Ancoats and Cheadle Hulme areas of the city as well as in St Peter’s Square, Platt Fields Park and Sackville Gardens.

Filming has also taken place in Manchester’s Space Project, a specialist filming studio for large productions. The show used the Space Studios Space 04 area, a 360,000 sq ft facility.

Watch The A Word on Tuesdays at 9pm on BBC One.

Series 1 & 2 and all of series 3 are available on BBC iPlayer.

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