Lesley Dunlop has been talking about how she reacted when told that her character Brenda Walker would be diagnosed with a brain tumour:
“The first thing I asked was, ‘Does she die?’ I wanted to know if I would still be in a job or not,” she actress admits. “I was also a bit scared because it’s such a huge undertaking and responsibility, so it has to be right. I think it’s wrong to touch on anything like this if you’re not going to be truthful. For the sake of people who’ve gone through this in real life, the story has to be real and believable.”
Forthcoming episodes of Emmerdale will see Bob (Tony Audenshaw) finally tell Brenda how he feels, only for his colleague’s health to then start to suffer. When Brenda is looking granddaughter Molly, events soon take a worrying turn:
“Everything’s going well, Brenda is even being nice to Georgia and the two of them are swapping babysitting shifts. But suddenly everything goes black,” Dunlop reveals. “Brenda just zones out. She has tea in her hand and it spills into Molly’s cot. The tea doesn’t scald the baby but, after that, Brenda’s very anxious about babysitting again.”
Following this incident, a car accident will leave Brenda in little doubt that something is wrong: “Brenda again zones out, this time while she’s driving in the village and she hits the wall of the B&B. She has no recollection afterwards of what happened. Molly is in the car, so Gennie is furious. Val was also close to getting hurt in the accident and accuses Brenda of driving the car at her. That sends Brenda over the edge – she has a seizure and starts fitting on the floor.”
Viewers will eventually see a neurosurgeon confirm Brenda’s worst fears when he diagnoses her with a brain tumour. So has Dunlop done some research for the storyline and is she aware of how Brenda’s story will progress?
“Yes, I’ve done quite a bit of research. I had to as I didn’t know how common it is. I watched videos of people having seizures, which were really upsetting but essential. I had to know what seizures looked like in order to do that properly.
“As for Brenda’s treatment, I’m not sure whether the chemo or radiotherapy will make her hair fall out. I’ve yet to hear whether or not I’ll have my head shaved. Brenda also has some big decisions to make – everything is on hold if she has the operation. We’ll have to see what happens, but there are some very emotional times ahead.”