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Actor Alison Steadman has spoken about the ‘terrifying’ prospect of experiencing health issues such as strokes and dementia ahead of new drama Care airing on the BBC.
In the 90-minute drama, which airs on Sunday 9 December, Steadman plays Mary, a woman who suffers a devastating stroke and develops dementia. Her daughters Jenny (Sheridan Smith) and Claire (Sinead Keenan) are left caring for their widowed mum who was once the one looking after them.
Speaking about her character, Steadman said:
“Initially we see the character as very lively – Mary is a lady who is full of life. She loves her grandkids and spends a lot of time with them… She’s a very bright, strong lady. And then the rug is pulled right from under her in a flash.”
The Gavin & Stacey star went on:
“The terrifying thing for me is that it could happen to any of us at any time… and when it does happen, as a human being you have no control…. Suddenly this woman who is full of life and zest and chat… she can’t speak. She can’t communicate.”
In preparation for playing Mary, Steadman spoke with a doctor who works with people who have had a stroke and she's recently spent time in a hospital stroke unit.
“It really makes me appreciate that at the end of the day I can get dressed, put my lipstick on and go and have a gin and tonic – as some people aren’t so lucky,” she said.
The part has resonated with Alison and made her more empathetic than ever to people who have experienced health issues like strokes and dementia.
“Once you’ve played a part like this, it stays with you. In life we hope that we don’t get ill and of course we don’t dwell on things like that because you’ve got to carry on living,” she said.
“I’m touching wood as I say this, but I’ve got a very active and happy life – and I’m very grateful for that... When I do see people who have experienced similar to Mary or are having difficulty communicating, I think I have even more empathy than I did before. It has really made me think.”
Care airs on BBC One this Sunday (9 December) at 9pm.
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