Emmerdale is to screen a special episode this December told entirely from the perspective of Ashley Thomas, who is currently living with dementia.
A confused Ashley (John Middleton) will be seen leaving a hospital appointment and making his way out on to the streets alone. Camerawork and editing look set to give the episode a distinctively different feel in order to give viewers an insight into how Ashley is feeling.
Speaking about the concept behind the storyline, Emmerdale’s series producer Iain MacLeod said: “People living with dementia face challenges most of us can barely imagine. So, I took it as a challenge to help people picture this experience – to put them inside the mind of someone living with this condition.
“With this chapter of Ashley’s story, we set out to give people an insight into how ordinary, day-to-day experiences can become disorientating and distressing when refracted through the lens of dementia. Catching a bus, the apparently simple act of buying something in a shop, holding a conversation – all of these become tasks of Herculean scale.
“By telling the episode solely from Ashley’s point of view and seeing things the way he sees them, I hope we’re showing a side of dementia that is seldom represented on television.
“At its core, though, this has always been a love story between Ashley and his wife Laurel, and this episode is a heartbreaking landmark in the evolution of their relationship.”
The episode has been conceived and produced with support from both the Alzheimer’s Society and MHA (Methodist Homes), who have been working closely with the Emmerdale production team from the start of this storyline to give the most realistic depiction of Ashley’s dementia as it progresses.
Kathryn Smith, Director of Operations at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We are incredibly moved that Emmerdale will be filming an episode dedicated to showing the audience the world from Ashley’s point of view.
“Storylines like this can help people raise awareness of dementia and help them to understand how dementia can impact a person’s ability to think, communicate, process new information and break down the stigma that is still associated with the disease.”
Theresa Knight, Media Relationships Manager for MHA added: “We have been closely involved with Emmerdale since the team contacted us wanting John to visit one of our care homes for people living with dementia. Since then we have been involved in feeding back on scripts and storylines involving Ashley as his condition deteriorates.
“We have been delighted as to how seriously the whole team at Emmerdale is taking the storyline and the lengths they are going to in their research. We know from having had discussions about and given feedback on the episode from Ashley’s viewpoint that it will be an exceptionally moving piece of drama.”
You can watch a 60-second rundown of this week’s drama on Emmerdale below.
And visit our dedicated Emmerdale page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.