After Thomas

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After Thomas
Directed by Simon Shore
Produced by Beryl Vertue
Elaine Cameron
Written by Lindsey Hill
Starring Keeley Hawes
Ben Miles
Andrew Byrne
Sheila Hancock
Duncan Preston
Running time
93 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

After Thomas is a one-off drama, first broadcast in the United Kingdom on 26 December 2006, on ITV. It was produced by Beryl Vertue and Elaine Cameron, directed by Simon Shore, and written by Lindsey Hill. It stars Keeley Hawes (Spooks, Under the Greenwood Tree, Tipping the Velvet, Ashes to Ashes), Ben Miles (Coupling, Prime Suspect, The Forsyte Saga), Andrew Byrne, Sheila Hancock and Duncan Preston.

The book, A Friend Like Henry, by Nuala Gardner, which was about her autistic son Dale and their struggle to cope with obstacles that comes with having an autistic child, followed the film. In his dog, Henry, Dale finds a true friend and a teacher. Moviemail called After Thomas "gritty, warm and funny, but above all else is a realistic insight into every parent’s worst nightmare."[1]


Kyle Graham (Andrew Byrne) is scared. Not of monsters under the bed like any average six-year-old but of everything. Normal, everyday activities prove terrifying to him. He can’t communicate his fears or share them with friends, because he can’t use language and he has no friends. Kyle has autism, a condition it took his parents two desperate years to get diagnosed. So his day consists of endless traumas and tantrums… and unimaginable stress for his mother Nicola (Keeley Hawes).

Nicola knows that the one thing Kyle wants is to be left alone, safe and secure in his autistic world. But she also knows that if she grants her son this wish, he will have no future. Her fierce determination to break into Kyle’s world at any cost has placed an intolerable strain on her marriage. Her husband Rob (Ben Miles), although equally unbending in his love for his son, is frustrated by Nicola’s relentless challenging of Kyle. Not to mention the loss of the carefree life he and Nicola once had.

Rob tries everything to convince Nicola that Kyle should go to bruce house school, a boarding school for autistic children. But Nicola is adamant that he should remain part of society and be taught the skills to cope with the world around him. When a ‘no-strings attached’ respite is offered by family friend Rachel (Lorraine Pilkington), Rob is truly torn.

Nicola’s only respite is the unwavering support of her mother Pat (Sheila Hancock) and father Jim (Duncan Preston), who dote on Kyle and provide practical support when needed. Into this setting of seemingly insurmountable conflict comes Thomas, a golden retriever puppy, named after Kyle’s favourite character, Thomas The Tank Engine. Nicola is hopeful that Thomas can break into Kyle’s world where everyone else has failed. Rob says that loads of kids with autism are terrified of dogs, but Kyle seems fine with a dog sitting on him. Little by little, Kyle begins to show Thomas affection and an understanding of his new dog’s feeling.

By the time Thomas is a fully grown dog, Nicola and Rob are hopeful of a breakthrough where all other attempts have failed. The unexpected and devastating blow of Pat’s illness and death only strengthens their resolve. And when Thomas also becomes ill after Kyle kicks him, the family fear that the progress Kyle has made is about to unravel...


Following a six-month search and over 150 auditions, six-year-old Andrew Byrne (born 30 December 1999) makes his acting debut as Kyle. Sheila Hancock plays Nicola’s mother Pat with Duncan Preston (Acorn Antiques, Dinnerladies) as her father Jim and Lorraine Pilkington (Monarch Of The Glen) as Rob’s friend Rachel.



  1. ^ "After Thomas". Moviemail. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 

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