Paddy McGuinness believes men are becoming more open to talking about their feelings — and it's a welcome change for everyone.
The 48-year-old Top Gear presenter said he appreciated getting the chance to speak to retired footballer Paul Scholes about their experiences of parenting autistic children.
McGuinness and his wife Christine have made new documentary Our Family and Autism for the BBC, which features an appearance from Scholes, speaking about his non-verbal autistic son.
McGuinness told Radio Times he believes attitudes towards emotion among men are in a better place than they used to be, allowing for frank discussions such as his chat with Scholes.
"I come from a single parent, working-class, Northern background and I spent years before Phoenix Nights working on a building site. Men have traditionally struggled to open up more," he said.
Watch: Paddy McGuinness wants more education on autism
McGuinness added: "We’re seen as hunter-gatherers whose obligation it is never to be upset or weak. Even among our mates.
"But I still see the lads I used to work with and they actually ask each other how they are doing in a caring way. I’m talking about hairy-arsed builders — men’s men. Things are slowly changing."
McGuinness confessed he was initially reluctant to explore his children's diagnoses in such a personal way on film, but things changed during the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.
“Our kids regressed and it made me think about families who might be in a similar, or worse, position to us," he said.
"I was struggling, so I thought if we did the documentary, other families might not feel so alone or isolated.”
All three of McGuinness's children are autistic and Christine was diagnosed earlier this year, with part of the documentary dedicated to exploring whether there might be a genetic link.
He said he hopes that the fact he and his wife talk so publicly about their children and their struggles as parents will be useful to others in similar scenarios.
Read more: Melanie Sykes shares autism diagnosis
"If I talk about any of these things – autism, depression, whatever – publicly, it’s always because I want to help other people talk about them more openly," said McGuinness.
Paddy and Christine McGuinness: Our Family and Autism is due to air on Wednesday 1 December at 9pm on BBC One.
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