Emmerdale: Ashley returns from beyond the grave in Laurel’s poignant dream sequence

Actor John Middleton made one final appearance in an uplifting scene filmed with co-star Charlotte Bellamy

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Emmerdale has surprised its viewers tonight by resurrecting Ashley Thomas in an emotional dream sequence experienced by grieving wife Laurel.

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Fans of the ITV soap thought that this evening’s double bill would feature solely the funeral service of former village vicar Ashley, who died from pneumonia on Friday after living with early-onset vascular dementia for the last two years.

But instead, they were treated to a remarkable final conversation between Laurel and her late husband, after she fell asleep watching a home video of the family playing together.

In the 10-minute scene – filmed in one take – Ashley appeared to Laurel on the television screen free from illness as the pair reminisced about their life together, discussing such things as their miracle baby Dotty and the traumatic death of their son Daniel.

Speaking about the tender reunion, actress Charlotte Bellamy said tonight: “It was a heartbreaking scene, but joyous too.

“Emmerdale gave Laurel the chance to say goodbye to Ashley, which is something I imagine all people who’ve had to endure living with a relative with this illness would have liked to do.”

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On the topic of the technicalities of filming the conversation, she added: “John [Middleton] was in another studio, so I was talking to him with an earpiece in my ear. I couldn’t see him, I could just hear him.

“And we did it as you would a play, in one take. So it was a huge technical triumph.This kind of thing has not been done before in a soap, but our producer Iain MacLeod has been so clever in trying to push the boundaries and tell stories in a different way.” 

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As Laurel woke from her sleep, there surely wasn’t a dry in homes across the land as she began to watch the footage of her nearest and dearest having a water fight in happier times.

Added Bellamy: “The end message of the episode is that her heart swells because of what she had, not because of what she doesn’t have anymore.

“That’s a gorgeous way of ending a story like this. We have to look at the positives – her life with him was beautiful and she celebrates that.”

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

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