Eric Pollard has revealed his diagnosis of Parkinson’s on the latest episode of ITV1’s Emmerdale.
Played by the village-based soap’s longest serving cast member, Chris Chittell, Eric tells Mandy Dingle (Lisa Riley) not to tell anyone else of his neurological condition in emotional scenes on Wednesday.
As Eric confided in Mandy, he is tearful and speaks of being terrified of the future while living with Parkinson’s and being determined to deal with it alone.
Chittell said: “I feel really privileged to be given this storyline. Parkinson’s is indiscriminate, deceptive and wickedly unkind targeting so many.
“I want to do this storyline justice for the most courageous of people who are having to bear the brunt of this condition.”
The soap has worked with Parkinson’s UK on the storyline and the charity will continue to support the production team.
Chief executive of Parkinson’s UK Caroline Rassell said: “Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world, but is still misunderstood by many.
“A diagnosis can be a blow, forcing people to confront a future different from the one they had imagined.
“We hope that Eric’s storyline will increase awareness and understanding of a condition that around 153,000 people in the UK live with, and encourage discussions about the impact it has on those living with Parkinson’s and their loved ones.
“It’s a privilege to be assisting the Emmerdale team in portraying Eric’s journey, and Parkinson’s UK is here to support anyone affected by the condition through our helpline, local groups and website.”
Emmerdale producer Laura Shaw says Eric is “naturally very scared and unsure of what the condition means for his future”.
Ms Shaw said: “The unique position of a show like Emmerdale means we can tell this story really authentically over a long period of time and we can really shine a light on what a diagnosis like this means and follow Pollard on his journey of learning to live with it.
“Working closely with Parkinson’s UK, who have been guiding us through every step of the way, we hope seeing Pollard’s story helps to raise awareness of Parkinson’s and show the day to day reality of those living with it, as well as the impact it can have on friends, family and the local community.”