EastEnders regular Patrick Trueman is to face a serious health battle in the BBC One soap over the coming months when he has a major stroke.
Viewers will follow his difficulties from the first signs something is wrong to the stroke itself, as well as the aftermath and the toll it takes on him and those around him.
EastEnders bosses have worked closely with charities and experts including the Stroke Association to research the storyline and portray the condition accurately.
Trilby-wearing Patrick, who is played by Rudolph Walker, has been a fixture in Walford since 2001 and over the years has been boss of the Minute Mart store as well as a barman at the Queen Vic.
Rudolph said: “This is a truly important storyline as strokes affect so many different people, in so many different ways. We are all working very hard on this and I really hope Patrick’s story can help raise awareness.”
EastEnders executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins said: “This is an important storyline in so many ways. Not only does it give the wonderful Rudolph Walker the chance to shine, but we also hope it will raise awareness of the warning signs that come before a stroke and the difficulties of caring for the elderly in 21st century Britain.”
It is hoped that tackling the issue will help the viewers and the public in general to understand the difficulties and recognise the warning signs. In many cases people fail to spot pointers that a serious stroke might be on the way.
There are around 1.2 million people in the UK who have survived strokes.
Joe Korner, the director of external affairs at the Stroke Association, said: “A stroke can leave people facing the rest of their lives with a disability, and the emotional strain caused by the condition can be devastating.
“We hope that Patrick’s experiences will raise awareness amongst viewers particularly of the symptoms of a mini-stroke, which include facial weakness, arm weakness and speech problems, and last for a short period of time.
“It’s a warning sign that a stroke could be on the way, yet thousands of people dismiss a mini-stroke as ‘just a funny turn’. It’s a medical emergency and anyone with those symptoms should call 999 immediately.”
Further details about the condition can be found at www.stroke.org.uk.