Goodness, it’s been an emotional week in the Dales this week.
Just as Emmerdale viewers had just about pulled themselves together after the revelation that Faith Dingle had undergone a mastectomy, they then had to cope with watching show favourite Ashley Thomas’s condition deteriorate even further.
In last night’s episode, the village vicar, who is suffering with the late stages of dementia, collapsed in his care home, coughing up blood as his friend Bop Hope desperately called for help.
He was then rushed to hospital where he was diagnosed with malnutrition and pneumonia.
In spite of the devastating touch-and-go scenario, wife Laurel tried to remain upbeat and assured her dad that “Me and that man have been through way too much, we’re not going to be beaten by some stupid chest infection. I won’t let it.”
But as Ashley’s life hung in the balance, viewers were reaching for tissues with one hand, and punching in comments onto Twitter with the other.
“It must be so horrible and confusing for people like Ashley 🙁 #Emmerdale,” one moved fan said.
Another soap addict expressed their heartache by saying, “Such a beautiful, heartbreaking story. Can’t believe Ashley’s time is nearly at an end.”
Another fan commented: “Watching poor Ashley in this state is so heartbreaking and hard to watch 😢.”
It’s been a year since Ashley was diagnosed with dementia on the show and viewers have had their hearts squashed as they have watched the show favourite’s health deteriorate over time.
This week John Middleton , who has been praised for his portrayal of Ashley, said that his death scenes had the crew in tears.
“When we filmed Ashley’s death, the atmosphere on set was extraordinary,” the actor told What’s On TV magazine.
“We were getting ready for a take, and what we call the ‘checks’ came on – where people check your costume and your make-up. One woman was leaning over me and her tears were dripping on to my cheek! The medical advisor was crying, too!”
Speaking about leaving the series after twenty years he admitted it was going to be hard.
“There was this huge hit-you-over-the-head feeling of, ‘that’s it. It’s done,” he said.
“Also 80% of the time is spent having a chat with friends and I haven’t got that anymore. I keep storing up information for conversations at work and then realise that the only person I’ll be sharing that with is my dog.”
Although viewers have been gripped by Ashley’s plight, John says he has no plans to watch the show after his exit.
“I don’t believe in looking back; I’ve got to look forward, and actually it’s very exciting looking forward at the moment because there’s such a lot of amazing work being done on television for writers and actors.”
ITs been reported that ITV are now keen to sign John up for a series of big budget dramas.