If you’re a fan of ITV’s Emmerdale, you’ll know that popular character, Marlon Dingle, played by actor Mark Charnock, recently had a life-threatening stroke. 

We’ve worked closely with the Emmerdale team, involving stroke survivors, stroke consultants and experts to make sure the story about Marlon’s stroke and recovery is as realistic and honest as possible.

Stroke survivor Nick Hounsfield supported Mark Charnock with his portrayal of a stroke survivor.

Nick had a stroke in February 2020, aged 46. Advising on the Emmerdale storyline gave Nick the chance to work through “what was going on in my weird brain”.  

“I talked to Mark and tried to describe the emotion you feel, what’s going on in your head, how you feel after and how it affects the people around you,” says Nick. “Mark has a very good grip on what it is like to have a stroke. I know he feels a responsibility to get it right for stroke survivors and their families.”  

“I got really emotional watching the scenes of Marlon’s stroke. Since the episode aired, I’ve had so many people thanking me for the awareness and recounting their own stories. I feel more connected to other stroke survivors.”  

Consultant Stroke Physician, Professor Martin James, worked on the script.

“We wanted to ensure that the story unfolded in a realistic way and in a realistic time frame,” says Martin. “I had lots of conversations about Marlon’s acute treatment, thrombectomy and what doctors would say to Marlon and his fiancée, Rhona.  

“I also advised on Marlon’s speech recovery. Those of us that speak to people with aphasia have an ear for it, but we forget that it isn’t familiar to a lot of people. We helped the team to write scripts that reflect how difficult communication is for people with aphasia and for their families. 

“I think so much good can come from this storyline. I’ve been able to talk about it with patients and give Marlon as an example because of how accurate it is. Seeing their condition on a popular soap must be a real encouragement for those who live with aphasia every day.  

Josh Murphy from the Stroke Association was on set to advise on the story.

“I met with Emmerdale’s story and script researchers and it was clear that they wanted an honest and accurate portrayal of stroke,” says Josh.  

“Although I’ve worked with people affected by stroke for over 10 years, no amount of professional experience can emulate what it’s like to be personally affected, so I made sure that the show’s creators and actors connected with people who have lived experience. 

“I went to the Emmerdale filming studios in Leeds. They ran through each scene before it was filmed and we were on hand spot little inaccuracies in Mark’s aphasia portrayal, and details like Marlon’s drink not being thickened. 

“I hope that Marlon’s story will increase awareness of the FAST test and the importance of treating stroke as an emergency. And I hope that more people understand that there is hope after stroke and that with support, encouragement and hard work, people can make positive steps forward in their recovery.” 

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Stroke News magazine

This article is featured in the summer 2022 edition of our magazine, Stroke News. Subscribe to our future editions available in print, on audio CD, or via email. 

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