Coronation Street Storyline on Alzheimer’s. It’s Truth, Fact and Fiction Timewww.dementia.co.ukThis is our fourth post on the storyline that Coronation Street are using withAlzheimer’s as the theme. We first posted back in July 2011, when we hada feeling that the scriptwriters of the UK’s best loved TV soap were going to usean Alzheimer’s story line. But what are we to make of the direction they aretaking with the Alzheimer’s story line and how are they doing?There seems to be a mixed bag of feelings when it comes to the storyline and theway that the subject is being handled on the Street. We have received manycomments from many people, some are in favour and some are against the way thatthe storylines have been written.A good few of our readers seem to think that the reality of how carers of Alzheimer‟ssufferers have to deal with a person have been shown in its true light, but equally agood deal of people seem to think that the story is going too far and paintingpeople with Alzheimer‟s and the people who care for them in a bad light.In a few of the latest episodes of Coronation Street shown since mid March, andespecially in the last few weeks, the storylines surrounding Leslie, played by JudyHolt, Paul, played by Tony Hirst and Eileen, played by the brilliant Sue Cleaverhave drawn in opinions of other characters on the Street. Some of the latestepisodes involved scenes where Leslie (who thinks Amy is her Niece) takes Tracy‟sdaughter Amy, to the park leading to a few of the characters on Coronation Streetvoicing their opinion as to what they think about Leslie after a frantic search for thepair.In January we saw the developing relationship between Paul and Eileen, with Lesliebeing looked after by her husband Paul and Paul‟s faithful lover Eileen. We now jointhe story where Paul and Leslie have moved into Eileen‟s house on number 11Coronation Street, whilst their house if being renovated due to a flood.Eileen has been caring for Leslie whilst Paul is out working all hours as a firemanvarious scenes over the last few weeks have shown Eileen struggle to deal with thesudden mood changes and erratic behaviour that Leslie shows from time to time.In March the issues surrounding Alzheimer‟s and how other people perceive thecondition are dealt with in greater detail. We take a brief look at some of the scenesthat involve the story below.The story begins with Paul asking Eileen over breakfast if she can look after Lesleyagain so he can do a few jobs, but the day got off to a bad start for Eileen. An
angry Leslie refuses any sauce but brown, “I want Brown” Leslie screams, so Eileenhas to go to the shop to buy some. As Eileen is about to leave the house a now calmLeslie turns and says “thank you”.Whilst Eileen is away Leslie wanders into the back yard and we watch Leslieand Tracy‟s daughter Amy talking as they blow bubbles, “the bubbles look better inthe park” Amy says to Leslie. Eileen returns to find the house empty, after looking forher in the house she goes outside to find her when she bumps into Tracy whocouldn‟t find Amy either and it suddenly dawns on them that Lesley must have takenAmy. After meeting Jason in the street a short while later Tracy says to him that herdaughter has gone off with „Loony Leslie‟After informing Steve of both Amy and Lesley‟s disappearance a worried Steve goeslooking for Leslie and Amy in the park where he finds an angry Leslie having anargument with the ice cream van man. “Sort her out mate, she‟s putting mycustomers off” a tired ice cream seller tells Steve. “You shouldn‟t wander off withoutletting a grown up know”, Steve tells Amy, “I was with Leslie” Amy replies, “Yes” Stevesays with a woeful look on his face.Steve returns to the street with Amy and Lesley where an angry Tracy confrontsEileen and Paul. After a heated debate between Paul and Tracy, Paul calls Tracy abully. “Why, cause I don‟t turn to mush every time you toss me a smile” Tracy replies,“We‟ve all seen you, palming her off with anybody who will take her for an hour. Sheshould be in an institution.” “You know nothing” Paul relies. “Social services shouldbe told, she‟s a liability” answers Tracy. “You know nothing” again repeats an angryPaul. “She was confused and she should never have been left on her own, 99% of thetime she‟s fine” he goes on to say. Tracy then finishes by saying to Eileen “I‟mwarning you Eileen, you get that woman off our street and into a home or I‟ll do it foryou.”We finish the latest episodes with Paul begging Eileen not to chuck them out. “you‟renot a trained carer, I should not have put you in that position”, Paul tells Eileen.“This situation is too much for you, you have to step back and let the professionalstake over,” Eileen tells Paul.What We Think?From what we have seen and the way the story lines are playing out I think thecurrent producer (Phil Collinson) and writers of Coronation Street are right on themoney with the way Alzheimer‟s can affect a person. They are also showing thereality of how carers might react and some of the everyday situations with how acarer has to cope with a person who suffers from dementia. The show is also tacklingthe prejudices people have when it comes to how they see a person with dementia.
Tracy‟s use of the words „loony‟ and „institution‟ show that the show understands thatmany people still don‟t understand what it‟s like for carers and sufferers ofAlzheimer‟s and dementia. They seem to have it right in the way some peoplemight behave towards a person with dementia.5 Responses to Coronation Street Storyline on Alzheimer’s. It’s Truth, Fact and FictionTimevicky on April 2, 2012 at 6:45 pmSoap operas may well give a realistic portrayal of later stage dementia, but whatconcerns me is that they tend to skip the earlier stages altogether (such as with MikeBaldwin a few years ago) and go straight to the most harrowing and difficult stage. Itgives people the impression that your life instantly falls apart the second you get adementia diagnosis, whereas the reality is you can still live well with dementia for agood few years if you have the right support.Mark L on April 4, 2012 at 11:57 amThis storyline is terrible. I dislike the introduction of the storyline in relation to a lovetriangle. It would have been better had Eileen‟s mother been introduced (Say after afall at home) and over 6 months, it had become apparent that there was more wrongthan a simple fall.The characters could come to terms with, and experience medical practitioners, inreal time. Rather than this rather seedy plot line.On Monday 03 April (20:30), the characters visited a care home. The care home ladytold Paul (The husband of the person with Dementia) that he‟d be “haunted by theperson his wife used to be”. What? What an awful expression full of negativeconnotations.A classic case of Generic Dementia.Glenda Young on April 4, 2012 at 11:58 amI‟m editor of a Coronation Street fan website and also am living with a familymember with Alzheimer‟s Disease. I think Corrie has got the story spot on with thesymptoms and reactions from family members. But one thing that‟s very different inmy case is that the family member can go to day care, it doesn‟t have to be “all ornothing” residential care and I think Corrie could have explored care and involvement
of Social Services much more than they have done. Otherwise, it‟s been a true andvery sad portrayal of a devestating disease.John on April 4, 2012 at 1:40 pmI agree with your comment about the fact that the writers are not really exploring allthe available channels for support and care that are available for leslie.They do seem to have jumped, as you say, to an „all or nothing‟ when it comes tocare. It‟s a shame, the script doesn‟t recognise all the brilliant organisations that givegreat suport to people with dementia that the show could have given credit to. Theyjust skip through to a care home being the right way to treat leslie‟s condition.I assume it‟s due to the time constraints of the show.Thanks for pointing that fact outMonique ONeill on April 4, 2012 at 1:57 pmWe have to remember this is a tv show and on top of that a soap. It is suppose to beoverly dramatic and perhaps „unreal‟ in its portrayal of real life