Emmerdale spoilers follow.
Emmerdale will explore Parkinson's disease in an emotional storyline for Eric Pollard.
In Wednesday's (November 1) episode, Pollard confided in Mandy that he's been diagnosed with the fastest-growing neurological condition in the world.
While Mandy was ready to support Pollard, he swore her to secrecy over his condition because he remains intent on facing the future alone.
Future scenes will see Pollard grapple with the implications of his decision while also facing a huge relationship crisis with his partner Brenda.
The chronic disease has a degenerative effect on the central nervous system, thus impacting both the motor system and non-motor system as it progresses. There is no cure for the disease, though treatments can help with symptoms.
Emmerdale's longest-serving cast member, Chris Chittell, said of the storyline: "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."
Emmerdale producer Laura Shaw and the writing team are working closely with Parkinson's UK to craft a storyline that reflects the real experiences of those living with the disease.
"When Eric Pollard is diagnosed with Parkinson's he's naturally very scared and unsure of what the condition means for his future," 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.”
Caroline Rassell of Parkinson's UK added: "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."
The soap has a long history of tackling health-based stories, including a critically-acclaimed portrayal of dementia for Ashley Thomas and last year's heartbreaking revelation that Faith Dingle had terminal cancer.
Emmerdale airs on weeknights at 7.30pm on ITV1, and streams on ITVX.
For more information and support about this topic, you can visit the Parkinson's UK website or contact the Helpline at 0808 800 0303.
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