The Suspect: Parkinson’s… but isn’t he too young?

YOPD hits prime time TV in a five part drama on Bank Holiday Monday - August 29, 2022.

For a complex neurological condition, which is variable, unpredictable and largely invisible to get prime time TV exposure is rare. It’s almost as rare as the Young Onset Parkinson’s that Aidan Turner (Poldark himself) portrays in new ITV thriller ‘The Suspect’.

As a charity representing those with YOPD, we admit to being more than a little excited to have the condition get prime-time exposure. It’s hard for anyone to get a handle on YOPD from a soundbite in an occasional interview. Aidan’s character hopefully will be able to gently enlighten the viewing public, without it seeming painfully forced or shoehorned in.

Aidan certainly did his research and made good use of conversations with YOPDer Drew Hallam, diagnosed in 2017 at the age of 35. Drew is a young father, a guitarist and a proactive YOPD advocate – and was happy to share his experience of the condition with the actor.

“I was initially contacted to help the writers fact-check the script,” recalls Drew. “To ensure it was believable, given that the character was in the very early stages of the condition.”

When Drew got to meet Aidan, he found “an overwhelmingly compassionate, friendly and attentive man; it’s been a real pleasure getting to know him,” he says.

Aidan plays Dr Joe O’Laughlin, a character created by Australian novelist, Michael Robotham – with The Suspect being the first in a series of nine books featuring the fictional phsychologist. The inspiration to include the YOPD backstory came through a friend of the author having a son diagnosed.

In a previous interview, the writer admits to knowing very little about the condition at the time. “I think it would knock most people sideways – at least at the beginning. Depression, self-pity, anger and erratic behaviour – I can see it all.”

We look forward to seeing what the YOPD community and public at large make of it. Anything to start a discussion on YOPD is always good in our book.

The first of this five-part murder drama can be seen tonight on ITV or on ITV hub for a limited period. One way or another it’s not to be missed.

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