Emmerdale star Sally Dexter has opened up on the emotional toll of filming Faith Dingle’s battle with terminal breast cancer.
Faith had been desperately hiding her diagnosis for weeks with the help of Moira and Wendy, but the secret finally came out to her shocked family at her 65th birthday party this week.
With Faith expecting it to be her last birthday, her son Cain and daughter Chas were left shellshocked, along with her heartbroken granddaughter Sarah.
For actress Sally Dexter, however, the scenes have been “tough” to film, as she emphasised the importance of doing the storyline justice for people battling the disease in real life.
Emmerdale worked with research and care charity Breast Cancer Now on the devastating plot, with Sally explaining to Daily Star and other press: “It’s 100 percent vital that we do it justice.
“There are many people sitting out there watching the show who have it, who are sitting next to somebody who has it, who are about to have it.
“They need to know first and foremost that you can get better. There are fabulous treatments, there are fabulous charities that work with people who are going through this, and many many people do come through it.
“We want to tell the story as truthfully and as honestly and as carefully as we can, with all the humour and humanity that goes along with a situation like this. It’s not all doom and gloom – we’re humans, we laugh at all sorts of peculiar things.”
She added that filming has been “tough”, despite the glimmers of hope and humour.
“At first I thought this is great, it’s a great way to go with this character – you could go in all sorts of directions. Faith is a character that can go in just about any direction.
“Initially I thought it was a really good idea, but I suddenly realised when I started reading up about the treatment, about how people cope with it and about the reality of it… it dawned on me that this is a serious gig.
“It’s more than a gig because it’s real, this is happening to people. You can’t just take it lightly.”
She continued: “There have been hugely emotional moments filming. One of the great thing about the crew here and the other actors is how supportive they are. I’ve felt very cocooned, very held.
“It’s been a great experience in that way – but also you don’t forget ever, even for a moment, that you’re doing something that is real and is happening to people. It matters how we portray it.”
Sally summed up: “I very much hope that [Faith’s family situation] helps people. If they see it up on the screen at least it gets people talking.
“And that’s something, that’s one of the great things about Emmerdale, that you often see how not to do things. They do it in such style and humour, but not all situations are humorous.
“When you’re dealing with an illness like this, a condition like this, you don’t suddenly become somebody else. You don’t suddenly become a saint or anything like that.
“You’re still you and that’s a big thing we want to reinforce: that with or without cancer, you’re still you.”
Emmerdale airs weeknights from 7:30pm on ITV
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