In a special ‘Face your Fears Day’ Rhona (Zoe Henry) plans to make three people she loves – Marlon, Mary (Louise Jameson) and Paddy (Dominic Brunt) – face their fears. For Marlon this means driving, the prospect of which absolutely terrifies him.
‘It’s such a big deal for him,’ Mark Charnock told us. ‘He’s struggling. Mainly because of the physicality of it. It is a labyrinth for him – a minefield in terms of having to do lots of different things at once with his body. A body that he’s still getting used to since the stroke and psychologically it has seized him.’
While physically controlling the car is difficult enough it’s the psychological aspect that bothers him most as Mark revealed that Marlon’s biggest fear is having another stroke while he’s behind the wheel.
‘He is totally daunted by driving again as he doesn’t want to hurt anyone when he’s driving and he’s terrified of having another stroke anyway,’ the actor explained. ‘But particularly scared of having another stroke at the wheel whilst there are bystanders about. That fear – it can’t be uncommon. And so he is nervous about what harm he might do to others. So that is the big hurdle he’s got to leap.’
Mark told us that Marlon badly wants the independence of being able to drive, but he would probably opt out of doing it if it wasn’t for Rhona’s encouragement.
‘He ultimately needs his independence back; he’s so far has been totally reliant on Rhona and Paddy and Mary and those that he is close to in order to get anywhere. So he does want to drive again. However I think a part of him would rather not confront learning again but he is being egged on.
‘He is very self conscious and it reminds him of his restrictions and it reminds him of everything that he has been through and how far back he still really is in a lot of ways. So it just underlines and puts into bold everything he continues to struggle with.’
While Marlon contends with the whole idea of driving the specially adapted car, for Mark as an actor the vehicle presented a particular set of challenges.
‘The worst thing is the left footed accelerator,’ he said, explaining that Marlon’s right foot is less mobile.
’As Mark, it’s horrendous! Because your entire brain thinks I’m pressing the clutch or even the brake, anything but the accelerator. So I just keep speeding up and although my brain is telling me I need to take my foot off. It has been a bit of a nightmare! So it must be very very difficult when people have to make that adjustment in real life.
‘Anyway it took a while but we are there now!’