Viewers cried in their thousands earlier this year when Emmerdale’s Ashley Thomas lost his battle with dementia and passed away peacefully at home.
And for actor John Middleton, it marked the end of a 20-year stint on the soap.
But whilst he admits it wasn’t necessarily his decision to leave the Dales, he has told Soaplife that he has “no regrets” over tackling the storyline.
“The only thing you know about a show like Emmerdale is that one day – unless you want to still be there when you’re pushing a Zimmer frame around – you’ll have to go.
“You like to think you’ll be able to choose your moment of departure yourself and, while that wasn’t strictly the case with me, I embraced Ashley’s dementia storyline wholeheartedly.”
John, who still works with dementia charities now he’s left the soap, also said it was “the best story I’ve ever been given.
“You can’t underestimate the relevance of it.”
John’s final months on the soap have won him – and his co-star Charlotte Bellamy (Laurel) plenty of awards, and helped the show be crowned best soap at the recent Inside Soap Awards.
Laurel continues to grieve for her husband and up until recently many people thought she was losing the plot over it.
That was all thanks to Emma Barton, who Laurel discovered had manipulated Ashley in heartbreaking scenes that were caught on camera.
Laurel then realised that Emma had killed her own husband, James, and made it her mission to expose her.
But Emma managed to convince everyone Laurel was losing it after Ashley’s death and even suggested she was hitting the bottle again.
Fortunately Laurel was proved to be in the right after Emma was pushed to her death. Unfortunately, Laurel is now a suspect in that murder.
And as for Ashley, John has previously revealed there could be a chance he might return to the show.
Speaking to The Sun at the TV Choice awards John explained: “There’s no hint of Ashley coming back as a ghost but Ashley does have a twin brother called Luke, so that could happen.”
Now that would be weird. Imagine if Luke strolled into the Dales one day and Laurel saw him – it would be quite a shock for her.
But John has said it won’t be happening any time soon, as he’s busy with theatre work.
“I’m looking forward to the next thing I’m doing – I’m going to be touring a play called Strangers on a Train.”