Emmerdale actor Mark Charnock on playing Marlon Dingle in new stroke storyline

  • ITV News reporter Victoria Whittam speaks to Emmerdale's Mark Charnock about his new storyline

Emmerdale's Mark Charnock has told how he was "overwhelmed" as he prepared for a new storyline which will see his character, Marlon Dingle, suffering a debilitating stroke.

The 53-year-old actor, who has played Marlon for almost 26 years, has already filmed scenes which he says are among his most powerful and challenging to date.

Viewers will see Marlon collapse soon after he and Rhona Goskirk, played by Zoë Henry, propose to each other.

"The really interesting part of this for me, was the research," Charnock said.

"I was overwhelmed by the numbers. Every five minutes in the UK somebody has a stroke." What I hope this storyline will do is alert people to the symptoms." 

The soap has worked with the Stroke Association on the storyline and will show events from Marlon's perspective to depict what a stroke feels like for the sufferer.

Viewers will follow the long-lasting repercussions of his stroke on Marlon.

Having spent time with stroke survivors, Charnock said he felt the responsibility to depict what his character was going through accurately.

He said: "The difficulty lies in the fact that no two strokes are the same, I was concerned that people would say 'that didn't happen to my mum, it's not what happened to me'.

"Well, this is what happens to Marlon, and every stroke is an awful, bespoke event that affects each brain in a different way."

Rhona visits Marlon in hospital Credit: ITV

After his stroke Marlon desperately tries to remember how to deal with what is happening, by recalling the FAST acronym.

Face, arms, speech, and time can be used to spot the symptoms of an acute stroke. On screen, Marlon's daughter, April Windsor, played by Amelia Flanagan, discovers him and he is subsequently rushed to hospital.

Though strokes are often associated with older people, 38% of those affected are in middle age. Charnock was keen to share the "awful ripple effect" they can have.

He said: "Overnight, the partners, kids, and friends become carers."

What is a stroke?

According to the Stroke Association, a stroke is a brain attack. It happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, killing brain cells.

Damage to the brain can affect how the body works. It can also change how you think and feel. The effects of a stroke depend on where it takes place in the brain, and how big the damaged area is.

The emergency services use the face, arm, speech test (FAST) to spot the signs of a stroke.

What causes a stroke?

As we age, our arteries become harder and narrower and more likely to become blocked. However, certain medical conditions and lifestyle factors can speed up this process and increase your risk of having a stroke.

Can you recover from a stroke?

All strokes are different. For some people the effects may be relatively minor and may not last long. Others may be left with more serious problems that make them dependent on other people.

Unfortunately, some strokes can be very serious and some may lead to  coma or sudden death. That’s why it’s so important to be able to recognise the symptoms and get medical help as quickly as possible.

The quicker you receive treatment, the better your chances for a good recovery.

Acclaim for soap's storylines

Emmerdale won widespread acclaim for its portrayal of Alzheimer's, in a storyline involving Rev Ashley Thomas, played by John Middleton.

One episode, written from the character's perspective, is still used by charities as an example of what it is like for someone living with the condition. 

Rev Ashley Thomas, Emmerdale Credit: ITV

Charock said: "What's brilliant about the soaps – Emmerdale in particular – is that they take these stories on fearlessly, and they make a decision, the Ashley storyline is the perfect example. Very early on they decided to go all the way with it."

The stroke storyline begins on Emmerdale at 7.30pm on Monday 21 March.