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john middleton emmerdale ashley thomas

This evening (20 December) viewers of ITV’s Emmerdale will see a special episode featuring character Ashley Thomas who is living with vascular dementia - wheich MHA has played a part in advising on.

This one-off special featuring actor John Middleton who plays the former vicar users clever camerawork and editing techniques to show the world through Ashley’s eyes as he walks, confused, out of hospital.

MHA has been involved with the episode right from when the idea of portraying the storyline from Ashley’s perspective was first mooted.

MHA’s dementia lead Kate Fisher and media relationships manager Theresa Knight have both been involved in discussions with John, series producer Iain MacLeod, researcher Liam Johnson and scriptwriters on both the concept for the episode and detailed scripts as part of the on-going relationship between MHA and ITV.

Kate commented: “We have been delighted to have been involved in supporting ITV and the Emmerdale team in making sure that the show gets Ashley’s storyline as accurate as possible.

“It’s been great receiving the initial scripts, checking through them and giving feedback, then seeing something we have helped get right play out on screen.”

John himself was also keen to make sure that the storyline is as accurate as possible. As well as a number of meetings with MHA, he has visited Glen Rosa care home in Ilkley and spoken to residents and relatives there.

He said: “MHA has been incredibly helpful and have virtual script approval as we get into the storyline more.

“As I started researching vascular dementia, I thought we had a huge responsibility to get it right. A lot of people have first hand experience and awareness of dementia so meeting people with dementia and their carers was vital.

“The filming of this episode was the most absorbing I have ever done. The way in which we tell the story is quite challenging but we are hoping to give at least something of an insight into what the world is like for someone living with dementia.”

And that attention to detail with the storyline, which started more than a year ago on the show, is obviously paying dividends with Emmerdale’s fans and people who have first hand experience of living with someone who has dementia.

This one comments sums up what people are saying about it ‘Emmerdale have done such an amazing job of portraying this difficult storyline which, I think, a lot of people will be able to identify with. Although it's absolutely heart breaking to watch it’s highlighting some very important issues that I'm sure many families up and down the country struggle with every day.’

Series producer Iain MacLeod said: “MHA’s expertise in the field of caring for people who are living with dementia has been invaluable to us. They help and support people like Ashley and his family every day through their work.

“Being able to discuss developments in Ashley’s story with Kate and the team at MHA, right through to their comments on scripts and what characters say and how they are behaving, is really helping us get it right.” 

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