A CAST of Cumbrians are preparing to see themselves taking starring roles in a big new drama.

Hundreds of supporting artistes from the county make up the cast of The A Word, which will soon air on BBC One.

An exclusive invite-only screening of the programme will be shown at Zeffirellis Cinema in Ambleside on Thursday, ahead of the six-part series going on air.

The drama – described as a funny and thought provoking series about parenthood and childhood – was filmed in places including Keswick, Thirlmere and Coniston.

It stars former Dr Who Christopher Eccleston, already no stranger to the county through his starring role in hit ITV series Safe House , shot in the same area.

The Cumbrians signed up to take part were recruited by Carlisle-based Lakeside Castings, whose boss, Phil McKay, is looking forward to being among the guests at this week’s special screening.

The A Word tells the story of the Hughes family who discover their six-year-old son has autism.

Its broadcasting is being eagerly anticipated by many who are keen to see how it shines a light – or even dispels myths – linked to the conditions.

Providing the cast to meet the challenges of such a big production was a huge challenge for Phil, of Stanwix.

He said: “When I got the filming schedule through I got a shock at the many different characters they were looking for. They were looking for people to play hikers, tourists, workmen, foremen, villagers, police officers and school children.

“Casting the film extras was fairly straight forward as some got a few days on the film set.

“I also used as many children as possible from Carlisle. This was a great opportunity to get them on to the film set and to give them an amazing experience

“Over a two month period, I had around 25 children out of local schools. All had their performing licence on set and had their parents take them to the different locations.”

All the teenagers cast attend Lakeside’s monthly acting workshop.

“This was the best way to cast as the directors wanted them to play sixth formers and take good direction.

“The acting workshops certainly played a huge part in who I cast.”

The A Word is one in a string of big productions shot in Cumbria that Phil has cast for, including Safe House, another ITV drama Prey, along with Swallows and Amazons.

Phil, who urged anyone interested in attending his acting workshops to email info@lakesidecastings.com, added: “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. The show must go on and for the local people has been nice to see that it went ahead and to have Christopher Eccleston knocking around. It’s been great for the community.”

Filming finished at the end of January.

This week’s special screening of The A Word comes just days after the BBC announced a new sitcom, starring comedian Johnny Vegas, will be set in Cumbria.

A pilot episode Home From Home, which centres on a family man who has has long cherished the dream of buying a lodge in the Lake District, is expected to be screened on BBC Two this summer.

It will also feature Gavin and Stacey star Joanna Page, along with Silent Witness actress Emilia Fox.