Emmerdale breaks boundaries with new allergy storyline – and it’s about time, too

Allergies are the one soap taboo that is never discussed, says Helen Daly

Emmerdale Dan allergy

As a lifelong nut and peanut allergy sufferer, my life is spent endlessly reading the back covers of food product packaging, gently asking people not to eat a Snickers around me and causing a bit of a fuss in a restaurant.

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Those close to me are aware, it’s because I’m making an attempt to save my life, as allergies are not only real, but they can be life threatening.

But more often than not, I have to explain to people who have never come across allergies before that they pose a very real health risk to me and yes, if I eat a trace of a peanut I will be in anaphylaxis in 20 minutes.

Thankfully, allergy awareness is on the rise, mainly because the media is starting to pick up on the severity of it all. But I couldn’t be happier to see that Emmerdale is paving the way for UK soaps to properly explore allergies.

Previously, Coronation Street portrayed Roy Cropper’s bee sting allergy, but it was merely a minor dramatic stall before the real drama of the episode continued.

But Emmerdale will be delving straight into the real dangers from allergies, with the character of Dan Spencer (Liam Fox), who has a potentially fatal allergy to almonds.

Next week, he will help out Brenda with her new cafe venture which is exploring more vegan options to compete with a changing market. A hungover Dan eats one of the wraps he helps assemble, not realising there’s a deadly ingredient in it for him. Within minutes, Dan’s face and throat grows red and itchy – a clear sign of an allergic reaction, and eventually he slips into anaphylaxis (a hypersensitive reaction to an allergen, which can be fatal without medical treatment). In the storyline, one thing leads to another and Dan’s life will never be the same again – but you’ll just have to watch and see what pans out.

Emmerdale Dan allergy
Emmerdale’s Dan Spencer suffers an allergic reaction

Speaking about his new storyline, Dan actor Liam told press including RadioTimes.com: “First time [Brenda] wasn’t aware [of his allergy] and it wasn’t too bad. Second time, there’s a mayonnaise that’s in [the wrap] that has this almond milk, which she’s not aware of. I suppose it’s stuff that’s happened in the news over the years, without naming names. The effects this has on Dan is quite life-changing for a bit.”

If there’s one thing a soap does well, it’s reflecting real life problems. For so long, allergies have been one issue too great to tackle in any great detail, but hearing about Emmerdale’s latest storyline goes some way to help the cause.

In July 2016, Natasha Ednan-Laperouse suffered a severe allergic reaction after eating sesame in a baguette bought from Pret a Manger in Heathrow Airport. She died of anaphylaxis while on board a flight to Nice. At the time, the coroner noted Natasha had been “reassured” by the lack of allergen information on the packaging of the baguette.

It’s believed that around 2 million UK residents have a food allergy of varying severity. Without a doubt, allergies and the impact they can have on lives are becoming more and more important.

I’m just glad our UK soaps are beginning to see their role in the crucial part of spreading awareness and how they can provide a service.

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Awareness means more safety measures for sufferers like myself, and that can only be a good thing for the future.

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