Beleaguered Laurel Thomas took desperate action in tonight’s episode of Emmerdale when she locked husband Ashley in his bedroom.
The shock cliffhanger came after Ashley – who suffers with dementia – was seen wandering off from home in his pyjamas before almost getting knocked down in the street by Diane Sugden.
An under-pressure Laurel – who is determined for Ashley not to go into care – was already trying to cope with sick son Arthur and crying baby daughter Dotty, while father-in-law Sandy spent the night away in order to attend a funeral.
With Ashley growing increasingly confused, Laurel persuaded him to go to bed despite it only being the middle of the afternoon. But when an anxious Ashley started to protest, Laurel trapped him in his room and turned the key in the lock.
“Laurel has done what she thinks is the only thing she can do, which is to lock the door. Just to keep him safe,” says actress Charlotte Bellamy. “But I think it’s at this point that she starts to realise she’s out of her depth.”
“He’s lost in his own world,” adds John Middleton, who plays Ashley. “He has moments that make sense, but often his behaviour is inappropriate because he’s in a different reality to everybody else.”
An upcoming special episode of Emmerdale will allow fans of the soap to witness events solely from Ashley’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.
Speaking recently about the drama that lies ahead, Middleton said: “It’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. 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.”
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of Emmerdale below.
And visit our dedicated Emmerdale page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.