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Friday, 11 May 2012

Lesley Kershaw and Corrie's Alzheimer's Disease story

So, it's farewell to Lesley Kershaw as she's killed off in a storyline shortcut to get Eileen and Paul together without any guilt, well not much anyway. But before we forget all about her, I'd just like to blog how much I've admired watching Lesley Kershaw's portrayal of an Alzheimer's Disease sufferer.

Having first-hand experience of Alzheimer's Disease in our family, currently with an older family member, I know that Judy Holt's portrayal of Lesley has been spot on, at times painfully so. It raised a lot of issues for those who love and care for people with Alzheimer's Disease including showing how difficult finding good care is, and proving that not everyone, not even 'Mother Earth' Eileen can cope. It's also highlighted that Alzheimer's Disease isn't just an old person's disease, it can happen much earlier too.

However, with the experience I have of managing care for a family member with Alzheimer's Disease, I would take issue with Coronation Street for not showing enough care options for people in Paul's position.  I know, for instance, how wonderful our local Social Services have been in terms of assessment and providing care, in our case it's been day-care but they also offer carers who come into the person's home. It doesn't have to be a care-home full-time, it doesn't have to be all or nothing.

Why didn't Corrie show there were options available?  Because in the world of soap, it's easier to kill off a character in order to move the story on. I understand that, of course, Corrie isn't the real world.

Judy Holt has been wonderful as Lesley Kershaw.  The actress will be opening a fun-run in aid of Dementia Awareness on Saturday May 26 in Bury, find out more here.

The event co-incides with Dementia Awareness Week and has been organised by Bury Adult Care Services and partners. All proceeds will be divided equally between Making Space and the Alzheimer's Society.

Did you know Judy Holt has been in Corrie before? Back in 1991 she played Mrs Grice - find out details at

Link: The Alzheimer's Society UK 
Link: Dementia Awareness Week - May 20-26 2012

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Anonymous said...

She did an incredible job with her portrayal of Lesley. I'm sorry to see her go.

And I hate the whole Paul/Eileen storyline. Hopefully, it'll disintegrate.

~JB in Canada

Humpty Dumpty said...

Leaving aside the compelling performance by Judy Holt, this story line has been riddled with errors and loopholes. Apart from what you rightly stress, FN, about the statutory services, there are voluntary sector groups in some towns like the Alzheimer's Society with their befriending scheme; Crossroads, supporting carers; and other carer organisations. Of course, the whole point of not mentioning support services was to show Paul as being totally isolated but this is where the story fell apart. Marcus would know about help available to the couple, Ken would hasten to the library or town hall for information and Emily with her church involvement would surely know of similar situations. So far, Paul and Eileen have not convinced me that they had no option but to all live together and I lost sympathy with them when they cuddled up with Lesley sitting in the next room. But it was a brave attempt by Corrie to show that Alzheimer's can affect younger people and Lesley's part was well written and delivered. Shame about the other two.

supar said...

anyone know where Pauls white and blue shirts are from. My husband commented on the white one the other night, this is a man who doesn't normally take any interest in clothes, so hoping to find one for him!

Anonymous said...

The whole sorry shoddy story was so Eileen could land a man. It was really not well thought out. Eileen went from a sort of dowdy (clothing wise) individual to sporting a wack of make-up and a new wardrobe and hair-do.Her kanoodling with Paul while his wife was upstairs was really nauseating to watch..sorry, but it was. I don't think Eileen's character will survive this but maybe it's better if it doesn't. Really..what's left after this? She and Paul can get married? Droll.

Brilliant portrayal by Judy Holt from start to sorry sad ending IMO

Scott Willison said...

I've thought this entire storyline was wonderfully handled and heartbreaking. It's a plot where everyone is right, and everyone is wrong. Lesley needs support, even as she alienates all those around her; Paul loves his wife, but needs a more personal relationship; Eileen craves a lover, but knows she's not the number one. I found it a fascinating and sad portrayal of a situation where suffering seems to be the major factor.

I understand that the storyline may not have been entirely accurate but this is the shortcut you accept for a five times a week soap opera. As with Karl and his gambling, or Terry and his debts, there are a lot of undramatic options that are open to real life people which would be utterly tedious to watch for every viewer. I've seen people complain about the continued commitment to Peter Barlow's AA meetings and recovery, along the lines of "hasn't this storyline been done?" - as if his character was now "cured". It's difficult to show a long-standing problem and its solutions while simultaneously creating compelling drama.

I'm hoping that Eileen and Paul get through this. They're both wonderfully sympathetic characters and actors, people who've suffered through no fault of their own, and I'd love them to carry on and overcome their issues. Lesley's death was an easy exit in some ways, but it also creates additional drama and tensions that will be interesting to watch the characters work through.

Adam Rekitt said...

Whilst Judy Holt has given a mesmerising performance of someone with some kind of illness, it hasn’t increased my understanding of Alzheimer's, because Coronation Street is so full of errors that I can't put any faith in its depiction of the disease. I was not aware that Alzheimer’s sufferers were frequently aggressive, as Lesley was, but maybe that was just included to spice up the drama.

By showing Lesley falsely claiming she had been assaulted, the programme certainly did no favours for vulnerable people who are abused by their carers. As I am not aware that hoax 999 calls from Alzheimer’s sufferers are a major problem, I assume this was more nonsense from the scriptwriters.

The days when Coronation Street informed/educated the viewers have long gone.

Anonymous said...

"The days when Coronation Street informed/educated the viewers have long gone."

I don't wish to be informed or educated by the programme - I want to be entertained. Unfortunately, those days have also gone.

Frosty the Snowman said...

The best part of this sorry storyline was Judy Holt's performance but before Collinson pats himself on the back again, it was just not true to life at all. I know we have to have a bit of poetic licence with soaps but where were the Social Services, they are a big part of today's society but seem to be consistently absence from the fairyland that is Weatherfield. As Frosty has said before this could have been done so much better with Eileen and Paul becoming friends and building up from that, instead we had her jumping into bed with him on the first night and their kissing and talking right by Lesley when she did have lucid moments was frankly disgusting. I think this has ruined the character of Eileen and I sorely hope the selfish cretinous character of Paul is not in our favourite soap for much longer, I cannot bear him.

Anonymous said...

Paul is so annoying. Eileen is being ruined. Number 11 needs a new resident!

Tvor said...

Judy Holt indeed was the shining start of this storyline and it had so much potential. Yes there were shortcuts made for dramatic license, and not enough detail as for Paul's options but I can go with that. Yes people with AD can be aggressive and very unlike their usual personalities so that was not exaggerated. I can also understand Paul's need to reach out but For all we've known of Eileen, it was far out of character for her to continue into this affair and that's what most people found wrong.

Anonymous said...

I find the part about Lesley escaping from the care home difficult to swallow. My mom was in a nursing home for 6 years and never once did a resident escape. There are alarms on all exits and for certain residents with a severe challenge they wear alarms. The home took good care of the residents.


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