Soap tackles motor neurone disease


Published: Sunday 29th March 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Hollyoaks is to break new ground by revealing headteacher Patrick Blake is suffering from motor neurone disease.

The character, played by Jeremy Sheffield, will confess to his secretary Theresa McQueen (Jorgie Porter) in Monday’s show that he is suffering from the incurable condition.

But the control freak, involved last year in an award-winning domestic violence storyline with now-estranged partner Maxine Minniver (Nikki Sanderson), will hide the disease in a bid to win full custody of their baby daughter Minnie.

Writers of the Chester-set Channel Four show are working with the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) to develop the storyline, believed to be a first for a soap opera.

It comes hot on the heels of A Theory Of Everything, which saw Eddie Redmayne bag an Oscar this year for his portrayal of Professor Stephen Hawking’s battle with MND.

Last year’s global Ice Bucket Challenge also saw celebrities and people worldwide filming themselves pouring cold water over their heads to raise millions for research into treating the disease.

Former Holby City star Sheffield, 49, said he hoped his character’s illness would “captivate people’s hearts and minds”.

He said: “Patrick recognises his symptoms of MND but he is in denial, having seen his father deteriorate and die of the same illness he is unable and unwilling to fully accept the truth.

“He endeavours to keep his diagnosis secret as admitting the truth could jeopardise his chance of getting full custody of his beloved baby daughter, Minnie.

“For Patrick the idea of not being in control, of relinquishing his power, is unthinkable and it will be interesting to see how the man who needs to control everything and everyone in his life copes with something that he cannot influence.”

The actor’s character has already been displaying signs of the disease in the lead-up to tomorrow’s big reveal.

According to the MNDA, the incurable disorder kills five people per day in the UK.

A rapidly progressing disease affecting the brain and spinal cord, it targets the nerves that control movement, leaving people able to think and feel but “locked in a failing body, unable to move, talk, and eventually, breathe”.

Experts at the MNDA’s care clinic in Oxford worked with the soap’s writers and stars.

Sally Light, the charity’s chief executive, said: “It’s vital that we educate a young audience. Some of them will have done the Ice Bucket Challenge and now, through the drama unfolding week by week, will realise the devastating impact of MND and just why that was so important.

“I know of a family that sadly has experience of losing someone to MND and who has already recognised the subtle symptoms in Patrick as MND, which shows just how realistic Jeremy’s portrayal is.

“Hollyoaks is well known for successfully tackling issue-led storylines and we have every faith that Patrick’s battle against MND will be no exception.”

Last October Hollyoaks won an Inside Soap award for best storyline for its portrayal of the Minniver/Blake relationship and its descent into domestic abuse, with Sanderson named best actress for her role.

Published: Sunday 29th March 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Local business search