EastEnders’ Rudolph Walker reveals to Soaplife how Patrick suffers a massive stroke – just as he’s about to tell Denise about Ian’s lies…

Patrick Trueman has already had a mini stroke and he goes on to have a full-blown one after getting wound up seeing Ian drive Denise from the Square. “Patrick’s waiting for Ian to tell Denise the truth about him and Rainie – but he drives away. Patrick gets upset and collapses. He can’t move and he’s terrified,” Rudolph tells Soaplife.

Is it the stress of Ian’s lie that triggers the stroke?

“When I was doing research, I spoke to victims of strokes. One man said he lost his grandson, and when I asked if that contributed, he said: ‘Strange you should ask that. I never thought of it’. There’s no one thing you can pinpoint, but stress does play an important part in illness.”

How bad is the stroke?

“Patrick ends up in hospital. He can’t speak, he loses the use of his left arm and leg and his face is disfigured.”

Does Ian [Adam Woodyatt] visit Patrick?

“Yes, but only because he wants to make sure Patrick doesn’t tell tales. Ian doesn’t want Denise [Diane Parish] to visit Patrick, but she ignores him. Patrick’s desperate to tell Denise about Ian and Rainie, but he can’t.”

Why did Patrick ignore all the warning signs about his health?

“When he collapsed before, at home alone, he recovered and thought there was no need to go to a doctor. I suppose the message we’re putting across is that whenever you get the slightest warning signs that something’s not right, you really should have a check-up. Strokes can happen to people of all ages.”

Do you know anyone who’s had a stroke?

“Of course, there’s John Bardon, who played Jim. My own father also had a stroke in his late seventies. He regained all his faculties and was very strong. He died at the age of 96, so there’s hope for me!”

Did this story make you think about your own health?

“Yes, it did. But I’ve always tried to look after myself from a very young age. I don’t drink or smoke, and I wouldn’t know how to do drugs. I play a lot of tennis and cricket and I try to swim. I’ve become the laughing stock of the pool because I have a snorkel. I have to swim with my head down because I panic as soon as I lift it up.”

What’s it like playing Patrick after his stroke?

“Very challenging, but exciting, too. It’s a massive storyline and, as far as I know, it hasn’t really been tackled on TV like this before. As an actor, it’s one hell of a responsibility.”

Will Patrick recover from this stroke?

“It will be a slow process. The producers want to take Patrick through the pain and suffering and show the fight to regain his speech and normality. He’ll face a lot of obstacles along the way.”

EastEnders, BBC1. Click here for transmission details.