Belfast Telegraph

Praise for Emmerdale episode seen through eyes of dementia victim Ashley Thomas

Emmerdale fans have praised the show for its sensitive portrayal of dementia in a special episode shown from the perspective of long-running character Ashley Thomas.

Former vicar Ashley, played by John Middleton, suffers from stroke-related early onset vascular dementia and fans have watched as his condition gradually worsens.

On Tuesday night, ITV screened an entire, groundbreaking episode through his eyes.

One viewer tweeted: "Such a sad episode makes you think what all these people are going through. Well done in bringing this to the forefront."

Another posted: "That surely is an award-winning episode. Poignant, realistic, scary, deeply moving and superbly written and acted."

The one-off production saw changes to camerawork and editing to show Ashley's confused point of view as he left the hospital and made his way out on to the streets alone.

He said to himself: "Where was I going? Was I visiting someone? Yes, that was it. No. I was leaving."

As he walked through a door and headed outside, he said: "This is the way. Yes. This must be the way. This is the way home."

Viewers saw him walking down the street in his pyjamas as he said: "Keep going. It's all right. I can find it. I can get home."

Emmerdale producers have worked closely with both the Alzheimer's Society and MHA (Methodist Homes) throughout the storyline, and the forthcoming episode has also had their backing.

Ian MacLeod, Emmerdale's series producer, 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."

MacLeod added that by telling the episode solely from Ashley's point of view, he hopes they are "showing a side of dementia that is seldom represented on television".

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