Friday’s (7 April) ‘Emmerdale’ is set to be an emotional watch, as Ashley Thomas dies following a long battle with dementia, and we can now reveal what is ahead for the family he leaves behind.
Obviously one key question is whether Ashley’s wife Laurel will turn to alcohol, as she has experienced substance abuse battles in the past.
Speaking at a press event, actress Charlotte Bellamy admitted that a relapse would be “the fear” for her character.
“I imagine the audience will be thinking that as well, but she does have a family to look after,” she told The Huffington Post UK and other reporters. “And she has in a way prepared herself, but the pressure’s on.
“The children are going to be her focus, and Sandy [Ashley’s dad] as well, so she’s just going to have to soldier on.”
There’s also the question of whether she’ll find love again and while it does admittedly seem a little too soon to be asking this, it is Soapland after all.
Unsure of what lies ahead in a romantic sense, Charlotte said: “It is continuing drama isn’t it? But... I have no idea. I’ll do what I’m told!
“Laurel’s a survivor isn’t she? So she’ll… I’m sure they’ll leave her alone for a bit but who knows?
“It’s been such a journey and I feel a bit bereft actually, but of course, the story carries on and there’s still lots to come as well, without giving anything away.”
Thankfully, the soap’s executive producer Iain MacLeod was on hand to reassure us that Laurel won’t be moving on just yet.
“I can jump in right now and say nothing will be done with any undue haste with Laurel’s character,” he said. “Ashley has been her great love so it would be a bit remiss of us to suddenly go, ‘boom’, and throw a few love interests in the door.
“So we’ll be respectful in our time frames, I can assure you of that.”
Ashley’s death has been inevitable since his early onset dementia diagnosis, which was given over 12 months ago.
The storyline has seen a number of twists and turns, and the show’s writers were also praised for the stand-alone December 2016 episode, which showed viewers what the day-to-day experiences of a dementia sufferer can feel like.
Catch up on all the latest soap news and spoilers here.