TV soap films special dementia episode

 Emmerdale will portray confusion and fears of newly diagnosed character in episode filmed from his point of view
John Middleton

Emmerdale fans will get an insight into the experience of living with dementia when a special episode portrays the point of view of a character with the condition.

John Middleton’s Emmerdale character Ashley Thomas faces a diagnosis of early onset vascular dementia.
Picture: PA Photos

The ITV soap is set to feature a storyline in which former vicar Ashley Thomas, played by long-time cast member John Middleton, is diagnosed with stroke-related early onset vascular dementia. 

Emmerdale producers have worked closely with the Alzheimer’s Society and Methodist Homes, which runs care homes for people with dementia, to produce the storyline.

The organisations have welcomed episode, to be shown later this year, for raising awareness of living with dementia, which affects 850,000 people in the UK.

Reducing stigma

Alzheimer’s Society director of operations Kathryn Smith said of the project: ‘Storylines like this can help raise awareness of dementia, help people to understand how dementia can impact a person’s ability to think, communicate and process new information, and break down the stigma that is still associated with the disease.’

In recent months, viewers have seen Ashley’s condition gradually worsen. The one-off episode from his viewpoint will involve different camerawork and editing to show his confused state of mind as he leaves the hospital and makes his way home alone.

Emmerdale series producer Ian MacLeod said: ‘People living with dementia face challenges most of us can barely imagine. With this chapter of Ashley’s story, we set out to give people an insight into how ordinary, day-to-day experiences can become disorientating and distressing when refracted through the lens of dementia.’