Laurel is to be left devastated this Christmas when she confesses her feelings for ex-husband Ashley, only for him to reveal that he’s suffering with dementia.
“The news comes completely out of the blue for Laurel,” says actress Charlotte Bellamy. “When he tells her, she can’t comprehend it. But unless you live with somebody in those early stages, then you’d have no idea. Ashley has been coping by writing everything down, so when he shows her the book, she can then see how he’s been dealing with this on his own.”
And what is she most scared about once she learns of the diagnosis? “It’s the fact that they’ve got to tell the children and that they’re going to watch their dad deteriorate. One minute he’s fine, but the next he might not remember their name or their birthday or who they are. You just don’t know how the dementia is going to manifest in Ashley’s day-to-day behaviour.”
Ashley will be seen initially telling Laurel that with his prognosis being so bleak, there’s no way that there can be a reconciliation for the two of them. But, over the festive season, the pair will decide to reunite and face the future together. But does Laurel have any idea what she’s taking on?
“No, I don’t think she has, but nobody would in that situation. Ashley seems perfectly normal to Laurel at the moment. There might be occasions when he’ll get a bit cross, but it’s nothing that would affect their day-to-day lives. But you know that it’s coming.”
What’s also coming is actor John Middleton’s eventual exit from Emmerdale, with this storyline set to be his swan song on the ITV soap. No date has yet been set for Middleton’s departure, but how does Bellamy feel about the prospect of him going?
“I can’t even think about it,” she admits. “It’s weird playing somebody’s wife for that amount of time. You spend so much time together. So I will be really sad when the day comes. But it feels so right for the characters to be together again. I feel that Ashley has to be with somebody who he has a long history with, so it’s the right ending.”
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