Shirley Stelfox has revealed that her alter-ego Edna Birch will soon collapse in Emmerdale – but is too proud to ask for help.

The 71-year-old actress, who has been on the ITV soap for over 12 years, said Edna prefers to keep things – including her financial problems – to herself.

Shirley said: “This situation has been a nightmare for Edna. She believes she can cope and she believes that she can do things, but she has no real understanding of this sort of situation.

“Edna won’t ask for help, because her pride will not allow her. She feels that she can do everything herself. Edna is also starting to feel unwell. She’s not recognising it because she feels she’s tough enough. She doesn’t realise that the faintness she feels is worse than stress. People in the village are starting to become concerned for Edna, but she has no idea – because she hopes they don’t know!”

Jimmy King (Nick Miles) calls Edna an ambulance when he spots her slumped on the floor, and invites her to move in with him and Nicola.

“Edna is embarrassed – she hates it. She’s willing to give help, but she doesn’t take it,” Shirley explained. “She feels very uncomfortable living with Jimmy and Nicola. It’s not a case of her asking for help, but rather that she’s having to accept help which is being forced on her. Jimmy threatens to camp out in her house if she doesn’t move in!”

The storyline will be shown in Emmerdale next week.