Emmerdale's Ashley Thomas departs soap in dementia death scene
The character has been a regular fixture in the Dales for 20 years.
Emmerdale viewers will see an emotional episode of the soap on Friday as long-running character Ashley Thomas dies.
Ashley, played by John Middleton, has featured in a storyline about stroke-related early onset vascular dementia.
In Friday evening’s instalment of the ITV soap, he will be surrounded by loved ones at home who gather by his bedside for his final hours.
Charlotte Bellamy, who plays Ashley’s wife Laurel, will feature in the heartbreaking scenes as Ashley bows out of the Yorkshire Dales-set series.
The episode is also expected to include a look back at some happier moments from Ashley’s life as the villagers say their goodbyes.
John, who has starred in the soap for 20 years, spoke about his sadness at leaving the role.
He told the Press Association: “It’s utterly bizarre. In many ways, after 20 years you become institutionalised, so I will miss this place in ways I don’t yet properly understand.
“Twenty years is half of my career. It’s one of the most significant things that has ever happened to me, it’s up there with getting married and having children.
“It has completely changed my life for the better, there was not a second I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed.”
John said playing out the two-year dementia plotline was “the best story anyone had pitched to me”, adding: “It became totally absorbing and you find yourself propelling towards the end of it.
“What was touching was the sensitivity on the set, people really wanted to get this right. There were a lot of tears shed and it was a very special day.”
Ashley’s final Emmerdale episode will air on April 7 at 7pm on ITV.