ABLE2UK interviews Leon Harrop
It’s been a great year for Leon Harrop, not only did the 31-year-old return to our screens in The A Word spin off Ralph & Katie, he also received a prestigious BAFTA Breakthrough award in October.
Harrop’s acting career took off after the casting team behind BBC drama The Street phoned his school asking if they knew anyone who could play the part of Maxine Peake and Stephen Graham’s onscreen son.
He made such an impression Harrop was snapped up for a second beeb drama, From Here to There in 2014. This was followed by roles in Channel 4’s drama No Offence and an episode in BBC anthology drama Moving On.
As it’s plain to see, living with Downs Syndrome has not held Harrop back - in fact if it wasn’t for his disability he would not have landed a lead role in The A Word.
With an extensive backstory ABLE2UK jumped at the chance when we were invited to interview Leon about his career, ambitions playing a villain and working behind the camera.
Hi Leon! Tell us a bit more about yourself.
I’m Leon, I am a special needs person, I’m a Manchester United fan, I love watching sports. For a living, I’m an actor in a series called Ralph and Katie. That was a massive job and a massive part for me, because I’m the main character. I did 38 days out of 40.
How do you unwind when you’re not acting?
When I relax, I watch football - Manchester United is my favourite team. I’m also into Marvel - my favourite’s Iron Man. Also, my favourite thing is playing on my Xbox. I also love dancing - I’ll dance all day if I want.
If you weren’t an actor, which profession would you have loved to pursue?
I’d be a footballer - a centre-forward, or a striker.
How did you get your break into acting in the first place?
I started acting when I was at school. I went to a Special Needs school called Newbridge School and I did a group called Lumenus. Lumenus does acting, dancing, script work - so I did that and started very young.
Can you remember your first day on set on The A Word?
Yes I do - when I did The A Word it’s way back now. It was different, because we didn’t have name tags, we didn’t have call sheets - we had to wake up early and finish late.
It was madness! I was outside a lot, and it ended up snowing! It was absolutely freezing, and there was wind, gales, it was raining - not nice weather at all! The A Word wasn’t my first job in television though - that was a TV series called The Street with Stephen Graham and Maxine Peake.
In the spin off Ralph and Katie you and Sarah Goody made the perfect couple. How do you get on in real life?
We’re like brother and sister - we talk all the time, we have video calls - we’re really good friends.
Were there any scenes in Ralph and Katie you were worried about?
Episode 5 was quite a sad episode for Ralph. There were a couple of scenes about cancer, and I got a bit upset because I thought it was real, but it’s not real. The creative coach had a chat with me and helped me understand that the cancer story wasn’t real;She helped me separate Ralph from Leon.
What will we be seeing you in next?
I can’t tell because it’s top secret! But I can give you some tips - I am doing another TV play, and also I am working with Jess Mabel Jones and, I’ve just found out, I'm working with Jordan Hogg!
What’s your dream role?
A villain. I’d be a good villain! I’d also want to try a love person; somebody in love.
If you were Able2 anything, what would it be?
I’d want to be a director because I’ve not done directing work before. And also a writer - I’d be better than Jordan Hogg! He’s alright, but I could take him on!
All episodes of Ralph & Katie are available now on BBC iPlayer.