Emmerdale star John Middleton on Ashley’s “challenging” special dementia episode

"It's a gift, really. It's the kind of part you hope you might get at some point in your career"

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Emmerdale actor John Middleton has revealed that an upcoming episode focusing solely on Ashley’s dementia is the most demanding plotline he’s ever worked on.

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“It’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever done,” said the soap star. “But it’s the kind of challenge you look forward to. It’s a gift, really. It’s the kind of part you hope you might get at some point in your career – and just hope that you’ll be competent at doing it.”

Viewers have already seen Ashley’s health deteriorate thanks to early-onset vascular dementia, but scenes to be shown later this month will allow fans of the ITV soap to witness events solely from the former vicar’s point of view.

On Tuesday 20 December, Ashley will be seen venturing out onto the streets of Hotton alone and in a confused state as passersby start to worry for his state of mind.

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“What we’re trying to do is see inside Ashley’s head,” added Middleton. “It’s very experimental, but we’re aiming to show how he perceives the world. It’s tricky because he’s in this advanced state of confusion. And it keeps jumping  in terms of when in time he thinks he is or who he thinks he’s with.”

Emmerdale isn’t yet revealing what happens to Ashley long term – however, Middleton is expected to leave the soap sometime in 2017. Discussing the overall arc of Ashley’s storyline, the actor – who has been on the cast of the soap since 1996 – said:

“The thing to remember is that this isn’t a story about just one person. It’s about Ashley and Laurel. And their family. The people around that family. And then the whole village. But principally, it’s a love story with an inevitable and very tragic ending.”

You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of Emmerdale below.

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And visit our dedicated Emmerdale page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.