Playing someone living with dementia opened my eyes, says David Bradley

The Game Of Thrones and Harry Potter star has thrown his weight behind Dementia Action Week.

Actor David Bradley has said that playing a character suffering from dementia gave him a “real insight” into the challenges of living with the disease.

Bradley stars as the father of Tony, played by Ricky Gervais, in the comedian’s Netflix series After Life. His character lives in a care home and is looked after by a nurse played by Extras star Ashley Jenson.

The 77-year-old, best known as the ruthless Walder Frey in Game Of Thrones and Argus Filch in the Harry Potter film series, urged patience and understanding when dealing with people with the condition.

He said: “Portraying someone with dementia in After Life gave me a real insight into the difficulties 850,000 people face every day and the impact it has on families across the UK.

“But it also highlighted how everyone can make a big difference just by being patient and understanding.”

The programme, which sees Gervais play a cynical widower, has been praised both for its comedy and its handling of bereavement.

Bradley, who has pledged support for Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Action Week, also commended the show for its portrayal of the brain disease.

After Life
Ricky Gervais in After Life (Natalie Seery/Netflix/PA)

A number of treatments, including enzyme replacement therapy administered directly into the brain, can slow the progression of the condition but there is no cure.

Bradley added: “With one person every three minutes developing dementia, it’s time for us to come together and unite against dementia with Alzheimer’s Society.

“I was shocked to find that many people with the condition feel isolated and unsupported in their local community.

“Small acts of kindness make the world of difference – Dementia Action Week is a great opportunity to start a conversation and help people living with dementia live the life they want.”

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 UK Film Premiere – London
David Bradley at the premiere of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Ian West/PA)

Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes said: “David Bradley’s support is hugely appreciated in our mission to change the conversation around dementia.

“No one should face a future with dementia alone and no one should feel like they can’t talk to someone with dementia.

“It is small acts of kindness that build up to transform the lives of people affected by dementia and help us create a dementia-friendly generation.

“Together we will power the growing dementia movement for change – we are urging everyone to follow David’s lead and get involved this Dementia Action Week.”

Dementia Action Week runs from May 20 to 26.

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