Emmerdale’s John Middleton: ‘Losing a child is the most dreadful thing a parent can imagine’

Emmerdale dementia sufferer Ashley finds his parenting ability questioned after he forgets about injured Arthur at hospital. John Middleton explains to Soaplife the drama that ensues…

So, the trouble starts when Arthur cuts himself…
“Yes. Ashley has given himself a project to build this wonderful pirate ship. It’ll be somewhere the family can have an imaginary adventure. Sandy [Freddie Jones] has torn up the instructions and the person who has the best handle on it is Arthur. Ashley lets him use the saw under close supervision, but he’s distracted by Sandy and Arthur cuts himself.”

What happens next?
“Ashley calls a taxi and takes Arthur to the hospital. There’s nobody at reception, but Ashley leaves Arthur, who is in pain, to see if he can find somebody and in that moment he forgets where he is.”

He doesn’t know why he’s at the hospital?
“No. But then Laurel [Charlotte Bellamy] appears. She’s there to have the baby scan and Ashley then thinks he’s supposed to be meeting Laurel at the hospital for that.”

And no one realises Arthur is missing until Ashley returns home without him, right?
“Yes. Losing a child is the most dreadful thing any parent can imagine, but to forget you were ever with them is awful. Ashley feels incredibly guilty.”

Then a social worker turns up to assess him…
“Ashley is very apprehensive. He knows how these things work because of his pastoral work. He knows the reasons why people make decisions, like sending dementia patients to a home.”

How does he react to the questioning?
“He’s in denial. He tries to make out it was a one-off incident that will never happen again and that he is perfectly capable of looking after his own son. But the fact that his ability to parent is being questioned is devastating. As far Ashley is concerned, this is a brick in the wall.”

Emmerdale, ITV.


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