New ITV drama stars character with Parkinson’s

Aidan Turner plays Doctor Joe O’Loughlin, who has just been diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s at 42, in new ITV series The Suspect

Based on a bestselling novel, The Suspect is about murder, lies and the darkness of the human mind. The series starts on Monday 29 August at 9.00pm, on ITV 1, ITV Cymru Wales, UTV and STV. You can also catch up on ITV hub.

The Suspect tells the story of Doctor Joe O'Loughlin, a clinical psychologist who is living with young onset Parkinson's (also known as early onset Parkinson’s).

Portraying Parkinson’s accurately

The production team for the series approached us for information and support on portraying the condition in the 5-part thriller.

We put them in touch with Drew Hallam, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2018, aged 35. Drew kindly volunteered his time to guide the team including Aidan, who's also starred in Poldark and The Hobbit, to portray the condition accurately.

Professor of Nursing and Clinical Lead for Nursing at the Parkinson’s Excellence Network, Annette Hand, also advised the production.

Raising awareness 

Anyone can get Parkinson’s, young or old. Aidan’s character in The Suspect will raise awareness of the condition, and fight the common misconception that it only affects older people.

Paul Jackson-Clark, Director of Engagement at Parkinson’s UK, said:

"People with Parkinson’s tell us that they would like to see more characters with the condition on TV so it’s incredible to see a main character in such a big and exciting drama coming to terms with a diagnosis, without it being his defining feature. Parkinson’s is just part of a person’s life, it is not the entirety of it.

"We’re often approached by production teams to review scripts for accuracy, and we’re happy to do that. But for this role, it was clear that it needed a much more personal and in-depth approach to make sure that the condition and situation were portrayed right.

"We’re so grateful that Drew was able to volunteer so much of his time to help this character come to life, and that Aidan and the entire production crew recognised the importance of getting it right.

"We hope that the show helps raise awareness of the condition in general, but also shines a light on some of the lesser-known aspects like non-motor symptoms and the fact that this isn’t just something that affects older people."

Drew's story

There are over 40 symptoms of Parkinson’s. It's more than just 'the shakes'. And it can affect anyone.

When Drew was diagnosed with Parkinson's aged 35 it was a total shock. But now, he's using his diagnosis to spread awareness and tackle misconceptions of the condition.