Emmerdale fans knew it was coming but, still, watching Ashley Thomas die is going to be hard. 'It is a beautiful death, though,' Charlotte Bellamy promises

Knowing that her husband, dementia sufferer Ashley Thomas, doesn’t have long left to live, Laurel brings him home and attempts to make his final days as loving and comfortable as possible.

“It is a beautiful ending,” Charlotte Bellamy tells Soaplife. “It is a good death that will make your heart swell.”

When does Laurel find out that Ashley has only days left?
“Ashley has pneumonia and Laurel is hoping that he will make a recovery, but is told by the doctor that he won’t get better – this is the end. Laurel doesn’t want him to die in hospital; she wants him at home, surrounded by his family and his children, where there are pictures of him throughout his life. She doesn’t know how long he has got, but knows it is only days.”

What can you tell us about Ashley’s death?
“I can’t say what happens, but I will tell you that it was really hard to film. We wanted to get it right, so the end was very important for everyone. It’s not what you think might happen. I’ve been wondering how they are going to end it and what they’ve done is kind of life affirming. Laurel invites Ashley’s friends over to say goodbye and, finally, she has a tender moment with him alone before he dies.”

Have you enjoyed the dementia storyline?
“It has been a long journey. This story came about two years ago and it seems to have become very topical in the last year. Every week there is something being written about it. In soap terms it has been a really massive story that has kept twisting and turning. Everyone is on board with it now. A woman came up to me in the supermarket recently with tears in her eyes and said, ‘Thank you, you’ve told the story of my husband and that helps me so much’.”

How will Laurel cope?
She is devastated, but has the family to look after. She has got Sandy, the children and little Dotty, so she has to be brave and carry on. She has to pick herself up and go into survival mode.”

And how will you cope with Ashley actor John Middleton’s departure?
“I will be bereft. We have worked so closely as a soap couple and, suddenly, it stops. I loved every minute of working with John and it is going to be quite hard being at work without him. What I love about John is that he doesn’t have an ego. He always plays the truth.”

Emmerdale, ITV