On Tuesday night, ITV screened an unusual instalment of Emmerdale, seen entirely from the point of view of one character, dementia sufferer Ashley Thomas.
As he wandered the streets of Hotton in his pyjamas, a confused Ashley failed to identify his wife Laurel and other villagers – who were played by different actors when seen through his eyes – as well as his local pub The Woolpack.
It’s safe to say viewers were blown away by the episode, praising the writing, the bravery of the script in focusing on such an important issue, and the performance from departing star John Middleton as Ashley.
— Rosie (@Winter_Rose007) December 20, 2016
That episode was heart wrenching yet exactly what we needed to see. John Middleton deserves an award. His portray of his illness ?? #Ashley
— T. M Pienaar (@PienaarMosesT) December 20, 2016
— Chloe?️? (@Barl0wC0llins) December 20, 2016
And the Best Actor award goes to…John Middleton. At every TV awards ceremony next year. If there's any justice. #Emmerdale
— David Brown (@MrDavidEBrown) December 20, 2016
#Ashley omg that was so heartbreaking to watch shows how hard it is living with dimetia such a great portrayal from john tonight
— ??Leah?? (@dleah3612) December 20, 2016
— DavidC ? (@motheradamplay) December 20, 2016
— Paul Cavanagh (@paulcavo74) December 20, 2016
— Brian Keen (@thebriankeen) December 20, 2016
Speaking to This Morning ahead of the episode, Middleton said: “We are showing the world how Ashley sees the world through the distorted lens of his dementia. He thinks he’s fully clothed, but he’s not, he’s in his pyjamas, people are concerned about him but he feels threatened by this and he goes into a shop – he doesn’t know where he is and money doesn’t make any sense anymore…”
“If we do anything with tonight’s story, it’s to encourage people that when they see people confused to maybe help. Don’t assume they are just off their head a bit – they may well have some form of dementia.”