When Ashley accuses Laurel of drinking again it could be all over… instead it ends with wedding pplans for the Emmerdale favourites!

John Middleton explains to Soaplife how it happens.

Why does Ashley accuse Laurel of drinking again?

“He finds a plastic bottle filled with alcohol under the sofa. He is convinced it belongs to Laurel [Charlotte Bellamy], that she’s gone back to drinking because of the pressure she’s under.”

Does he feel bad when he finds out the booze is his daughter, Gabby’s (Rosie Bentham)?

“He really does. Laurel is appalled that he has come to this conclusion and he feels terrible afterwards. He thinks he has handled it badly. The dementia has caused him to lose any subtlety he used to have.”

How does the marriage proposal come about?

“There is news about the baby and Ashley ends up hinting to Doug [Duncan Preston], who then begins to question Laurel about it. Instead she diverts her dad by saying ‘We are thinking of getting married’, which is a surprise to Ashley.”

Does he want to marry Laurel again?

“Ashley has never stopped loving Laurel. The proposal is a happy accident and he is delighted. The more stability they have in their lives, the better.”

What do you know about the challenges to come for Ashley due to his dementia ?

“I have done a lot of research, so I know there is a rocky road ahead, but I don’t know how rapidly the illness progresses, that is down to the writers. He could have catastrophic mini strokes or it might take longer than he anticipates.”

Do you think Laurel can cope?

“She is quite capable of it. There is an inner steel there with Laurel, which occasionally shocks Ashley.”

How will it affect Gabby?

“I wouldn’t be surprised if she went off the rails because she’s a young teenager having to face the fact her father is going to die and the process is going to be horrible. There is a possibility that he won’t even recognise her at the end.”

What kind of response have you had from viewers?

“I have lots of people coming up to me and saying my aunt, my husband, my mother, etc, has this. I have realised it is a much bigger problem than I first thought.”

Emmerdale, ITV