Emmerdale actor Chris Chittel says he feels “privileged” to play Eric Pollard following the character’s recent Parkinson’s diagnosis.
On Wednesday (November 1), it was revealed that 77-year-old businessman Eric had confided in Mandy Dingle (Lisa Riley) regarding his neurological condition and swore her to secrecy.
As per Parkinson’s UK, roughly 153,000 people are living with the brain disorder in the UK, while one in 37 people will be diagnosed with the condition in their lifetime.
Chris, who began portraying Eric in the ITV soap in 1986, said he wants to do this storyline justice.
“I feel really privileged to be given this storyline. Parkinson’s is indiscriminate, deceptive and wickedly unkind targeting so many,” he began.
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“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, has also opened up about how she believes the drama can begin to “shine a light” on Parkinson’s.
She 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.”
She also revealed the ITV evening mainstay is working closely with Parkinson’s UK. The hope is that the partnership can raise awareness through Eric’s ongoing storyline.
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“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,” she added.
Regarding the storyline and the ongoing inclusion of the condition, Chief Executive of Parkinson’s UK, Caroline Rassell said: “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.”
Rassell also said that it is a “privilege” to be assisting Emmerdale showrunners who are working on Eric’s journey with the brain condition.
As per Mayo Clinic, Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder that affects the body’s nervous system.
Symptoms can reportedly be different for everyone and may begin unnoticed or only on one side of the body.
They can include rigid muscles, loss of automatic movements, speech changes and slowed movement, otherwise known as bradykinesia.
For more information, advice or support, visit the Parkinson’s UK website, www.parkinsons.org.uk or call the free, confidential helpline on 0808 800 0303.
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