This Morning host Ruth Langsford has taken part in an emotional interview with Emmerdale star John Middleton, and thanked him for his accurate portrayal of life with dementia.
John plays Ashley Thomas in the ITV soap, who has been struggling to adjust to life with Alzheimer’s, and features in a special episode of the programme on Tuesday night, filmed from his point of view.
Ruth, whose father had dementia, sat alongside him during the interview for ITV’s This Morning and shared her experiences with John.
Talking about Ashley becoming confused over how to pay for things in a shop, Ruth said: “That actually hit home to me, that scene – I was lucky enough to see a preview of tonight’s show – but for somebody with a family member with Alzheimer’s, things rang so true for me.
“I remember my dad struggling – and he was a bright man … he would have his hand out and would say ‘take what you want’ because he was looking at blank coins in his head, I suppose.”
John replied: “If we do anything with tonight’s story, it’s to encourage people that when they see people confused, to maybe help. Don’t assume they are just off their head a bit, they may well have some form of dementia.”
Talking about Ashley’s on-screen wife Laurel, Ruth said: “When she said ‘I am looking at my husband but it’s not really my husband’, it’s really, really hard for families, because I felt that.
“My dad was there in body, the shell of my dad, but he wasn’t there, and the hardest thing is when your loved one doesn’t remember you. That’s so painful.”
She added: “Although some things were comical, and when he eventually was in a care home, my mum was visiting him with my aunt and uncle and they had This Morning on, and my aunt said, ‘oh look, there’s Ruth’, and he looked over and said, ‘Oh, I can’t stand her!’, and you had to laugh.”
A tearful Ruth told John: “What really struck home with me watching tonight’s episode is the fear you portrayed. I used to see that.”
At the end of the interview, she said: “I would like to say thank you from families because it’s not often that dementia gets represented so well, and I think as a programme and you particularly, John, as an actor have done it so brilliantly. So thank you.”
John replied: “That’s the best award I could possibly imagine or ask for, thank you.”
As she sat down next to her husband Eamonn Holmes later on, Ruth said: “I’m fine. I always get a bit upset talking about my dad, but it’s so important.”