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Emmerdale to air special ‘Ashley’ episode in December

Viewers will see what he sees.

Ashley Thomas, Emmerdale
Credit: ITV

Fans of Emmerdale will know that Ashley Thomas’ dementia is worsening by the week and now ITV has confirmed they are set to air a special episode this December, which will give us an insight into living with Dementia.  Viewers will see the world from the perspective of Ashley (who is played by John Middleton).

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.

Last year, we watched the emotional storyline unfold as former vicar Ashley Thomas diagnosed with stroke related early onset vascular dementia. Over recent months his condition has steadily worsened.  In this special one off episode the camerawork and editing will be given a distinctively different feel to show Ashley’s point of view as confused he leaves the hospital and makes his way out onto the streets alone.

The exact content of the episode is confidential until the episode airs.

Emmerdale Series Producer, Iain MacLeod, explains the concept behind this episode:

“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 heart-breaking landmark in the evolution of their relationship.”

In support of the awareness Emmerdale is achieving, 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 explains: “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.”

Emmerdale is on ITV1 weekdays at 7pm with an additional show at 8pm on a Thursday.

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