ACTRESS Sally Phillips, who starred in the Bridget Jones films and Miranda, has slammed Emmerdale’s Down’s Syndrome storyline calling it “irresponsible”.
The ITV soap has been accused of causing “unnecessary hurt” as it shows a couple terminate a pregnancy after learning their baby has the condition.
Emmerdale’s Laurel and Jai are set for heartache as they choose to terminate their pregnancyCredit: ITV
Sally, 51, has a son Olly, 16, with Down’s syndrome and she campaigns for rights for those living with the condition.
Emmerdale’s forthcoming plot sees Laurel Thomas, played by Charlotte Bellamy, and Jai Sharma, played by Chris Bisson, discover their baby isn’t developing as expected.
The couple decide to have the baby tested for chromosomal or genetic disorders, which reveals the baby has Down’s syndrome.
In addition to the agonising decision they have to make, part of the story will explore their relationship with Rhona and Marlon, whose nine-year-old son Leo has Down’s syndrome.
Sally slammed the plot calling it ‘irresponsible’ and could have been handled differentlyCredit: Getty – Contributor
Laurel is set to make the decision to terminate the pregnancy after discovering the baby has Down’s SyndromeCredit: ITV
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Sally said: “If Emmerdale wanted to tell a storyline of a termination of pregnancy for medical reasons to support women who choose that path, it could have been told without identifying a specific condition.
“The use of a Down syndrome diagnosis brings unnecessary hurt to a group of individuals, many of whom watch and enjoy the show precisely because there is a character with Down syndrome.
“Disability hate crime is on the rise and running with this storyline in Disability Awareness Month was at best poorly informed and thoughtless, and at worst irresponsible.”
Actress Sally is a fierce campaigner for the rights of those with disabilitiesCredit: Free for editorial use
Many people have slammed the storyline and called for it to be scrappedCredit: Andrew Boyce
Since news of the storyline became public, more than 23,000 people have signed a petition calling for the plotline to be scrapped.
In addition, many charities and MPs have written to ITV boss Dame Carolyn McCall to have Emmerdale lose the storyline.
While researching for the plot, ITV says it collaborated with charity Antenatal Results and Choices, medical professionals and people with the condition.
Sally starred in the Bridget Jones filmsCredit: Alamy Live News
Sally is greatCredit: Getty Images
However, some of the UK’s largest Down’s syndrome charities say they were not consulted.
Bethany Asher, an actress with Down’s syndrome who has appeared in BBC soap Doctors, wrote on Twitter: “Years ago people like me were locked away and treated like aliens … Your storyline is encouraging people to view us like that all over again.”
John Whiston, managing director of continuing drama at ITV, has defended the plot.
“It is a story exploring a very difficult decision many parents face and their legal right to make that choice with support, rather than judgment, from their family and friends.”
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