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Exclusive: Home and Away star Shane Withington shares challenges of John's stroke story

Daniel Kilkelly
·3-min read

From Digital Spy

Home and Away spoilers follow for UK-pace episodes on Channel 5.

Home and Away star Shane Withington has spoken to Digital Spy about the challenges of playing John Palmer's big new storyline.

Next week's episodes on Channel 5 see John get rushed to hospital after a shock collapse at the Parata family's housewarming party.

John and his loved ones are later told that he has suffered a stroke, which significantly affects his speech and mobility.

The Summer Bay favourite is facing the possibility of a long recovery process, but his estranged wife Marilyn (Emily Symons) is determined to support him in any way she can.

Photo credit: Channel 5
Photo credit: Channel 5

Related: 10 huge Home and Away spoilers for next week

Speaking about taking on the storyline, Shane told Digital Spy: "At first I realised how much hard work it would be! I really enjoy light comedy and I really enjoy John being a light-hearted man.

"I felt: 'Oh my gosh, a stroke, and the divorce. This is going to be some really heavy, heavy, hard work'. That was my first reaction.

"But then when the scripts started to arrive, they were so, so beautifully done that I couldn't wait to get into it.

"It was very difficult to get the physicality right, and the vocalisation. I had a speech coach go through it with me as well. What's hard is to constantly be aware of the changes he goes through. So he does digress, he goes backwards, to the point where they think he's going to die.

Photo credit: Channel 5
Photo credit: Channel 5

Related: Home and Away's Tane Parata confesses his feelings for Mackenzie Booth

"Then over the prolonged recovery, to incrementally get better, scene by scene by scene by scene, was a real challenge – to the point where I was writing notes at the top of each page over where John was with his speech. I'm pretty proud of how I did it and the results, so I hope the audience like watching it."

Shane confirmed that it was emotional to film the storyline, which will explore how John's condition affects his everyday life and his relationship with Marilyn.

He said: "John is such a proud, strong man and he feels he's been reduced to a baby. He's embarrassed, he's ashamed, he's confused and he's angry – and I hope it's reflected in what's shot.

"They're exhausting scenes because of all of that energy and all of that emotion. When John's weeping, I'm weeping.

Photo credit: Channel 5
Photo credit: Channel 5

Related: Home and Away's Jasmine Delaney story takes another unsettling turn

"This breaks him emotionally because John is such a proud man. It breaks his heart that he's no longer physically able to do anything. He's pretty much lost the use of the whole right side of his body and a part of his speech. He can still talk but he has real trouble putting words and sentences together, so that breaks his heart.

"Physically he's shattered, to the point where he doesn't want Marilyn to see him anymore. He wants to be alone and he descends into a depression. From there, the journey of the victim and the carer begins."

Home and Away airs weekdays at 1.15pm and 6pm on Channel 5 (UK) and Mondays to Thursdays at 7pm on Channel 7 (Australia).

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