Everything Heartstopper Star Bradley Riches Has Said About His Autism

8 March 2024, 17:41

Bradley Riches opened up about his autism on Celebrity Big Brother
Bradley Riches opened up about his autism on Celebrity Big Brother. Picture: Getty/Instagram: @brad_riches

By Tiasha Debray

Heartstopper’s Bradley Riches opened up about his autism in the Celebrity Big Brother house – here’s everything he had to say.

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Netflix’s Heartstopper’s Bradley Riches has brought a refreshing face to Celebrity Big Brother.

Joining the likes of Sharon Osborne, Love Island’s Ekin-Su, Louis Walsh, David Potts and Zeze Millz, the young actor’s authenticity and honesty have him growing fans by the minute.

With Bradley just at the start of his career, he’s already achieved so much, from representing the queer and neurodivergent communities that he is also part of, to publishing a children’s book about being in those minorities.

Bradley has recently opened up in the Big Brother house about his autism diagnosis, and here’s what he had to say.

Bradley Riches is an openly gay actor which is reflected in his character on Heartstopper
Bradley Riches is an openly gay actor which is reflected in his character on Heartstopper. Picture: Getty

The 22-year-old actor was diagnosed with autism at the young age of nine and whilst talking about his recently published book to fellow Celebrity Big Brother housemate Marisha Wallace, he revealed his diagnosis.

“Are you autistic?” Marisha candidly asked to which Bradley replied, “Yeah.” When asked how his autism shows up for him, Bradley replied “In a lot of ways.”

He shared that the experience of being in the Big Brother house had been a lot, “It's a lot but I've got my coping mechanisms, that's the main reason I wanted to come here, to push myself.”

The star then went into a little more depth as to what sort of small things weigh heavily on his mind. “But when I’m lying there, I lie in bed and I’m just like, ‘God how am I going to greet everyone in the morning?’, like, ‘How am I going to say hi to everyone in the morning?”

“It’s tiny things that sometimes add a lot of pressure.”

Bradley proves the importance Gen Z holds on social issues
Bradley proves the importance Gen Z holds on social issues. Picture: Getty

Bradley’s choice to be so open and honest about his experience has resonated with his fans and viewers of the show with one posting on X (formerly known as Twitter), “Bradley Riches perfectly summed up some of the pressures many autistic people face. Even simple things like walking in a room and saying hello to people become torture as you don’t know how to do it.”

These fan interactions just prove the importance of representation, something that Bradley is no stranger to.

Speaking to the Metro, the actor revealed, “I am so happy that I can show autistic people that they aren't alone and that they aren't invisible, they are beautiful and magical.”

A source told the tabloids that Bradley before he went into CBB he's “passionate about being an advocate for his community.”

“He's keen to show the world that being neurodiverse isn't something that holds you back, it's a superpower.”

Bradley goal was to reform the idea of neurodivergency
Bradley goal was to reform the idea of neurodivergency. Picture: Getty

But Bradley doesn’t just represent autistic people, he’s also an openly gay actor which is reflected in his character on Heartstopper and according to the publication, he wants to “fly the flag” for his community.

Despite being so young, Bradley proves the importance Gen Z holds on social issues.

In February of 2024, the Big Brother contestant campaigned in front of Downing Street to raise awareness for the increasing isolation and loneliness current youth are experiencing.

He posted a picture of himself on Instagram with the caption, “I was kindly invited to 10 Downing Street to discuss loneliness in the youth. I spoke about my own experiences being a queer autistic person and loneliness I have felt. I also met some incredible people x.”

When he’s not busy acting, featuring in reality television or campaigning for important social causes, you’ll find Bradley writing important literature for children.

The man co-wrote, alongside James A Lyons, a book called ‘“A” Different Kind Of Power,’ which was published late in 2023.

It followed the, fictional but also heavily influenced by his own life, story of a boy being diagnosed or ‘gifted’ with autism at a young age.

Bradley's goal was to reform the idea of neurodivergency into a more positive light, reframing it to be a superpower rather than just a diagnosis.

Speaking to Vogue, he revealed the changes he hopes to be a part of by publishing this type of work, “ I hope “A” Different Kind of Superpower makes neurodivergent people feel seen and heard across the board. Even in 2023 we’re still short on positive representations of autism, in particular

Bradley Riches gets emotional as he talks his autism on CBB

“​Being different is cool. You don’t need to fit in; the world isn’t designed for everyone to be the same.”

Bradley wasn't just speaking in general terms, he provided the publication with practical solutions to the problems he'd experienced as a working actor with autism.

“Casting directors can help to alleviate some of their stress by saying where an audition is, what time it will happen, how to get there and what the room will look like ahead of time.”

“I know that might sound silly, but I always think about where I’ll be and how many people will be there, for example. Knowing those details means I can actually give my best performance, and enjoy the process, too.”

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