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Nick Miles (Jimmy King, 'Emmerdale')

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Jimmy King from Emmerdale

© ITV

Jimmy King's loved ones receive the news that they've been praying for in Emmerdale next week as the police reveal that he's been found alive and is being treated at a hospital in Nottingham. However, their relief soon turns to horror when doctors reveal that Jimmy has acute amnesia as a result of a head injury and doesn't remember who he is nor what happened to him. Later, as Jimmy comes face-to-face with wife Nicola and brother Carl, he's forced to admit that they're both strangers to him… DS recently caught up with Nick Miles - who plays Jimmy - to hear more about the intriguing plot twist.

When did you first hear that this amnesia storyline was in store for Jimmy?
"A long time ago! Our late producer Gavin Blyth spoke to me about this in September last year. He was very cautious about it but very excited at the same time. So it's been quite a long time that I've known it was coming up. I think they referred to it for ages as the 'Jimmy Who?' story!"

What was your initial reaction to the storyline?
"I was a bit like Gav, really - I was excited but also a little bit trepidatious. It's one of those topics that it's rare to do a story about. My main concern was that I did a decent amount of research and knew what I was doing."

Can you tell us a bit about that research?
"I read some of the work of the neurologist Oliver Sacks and there were also a couple of real-life cases that I read about, particularly a guy in America who hasn't known who he is for 15 years and nobody can find out who he is. So I read a few case histories. But there's not an awful lot you can do, because neurologists themselves know very little about it. Most neurologists will only have seen a few cases ever, and the cases are all different. So there was only a limited amount that I could do."

After doing the research and seeing how amnesia can affect people in real life, do you think it's an important topic for a soap to address?
"Up to a point. It does happen in normal life, but it is quite rare and an awful lot of the amnesia cases turn out to be hoaxes - in fact, the majority are hoaxes. So it's an interesting one for a soap, but I'm not sure we're doing much social work here, really - that's not what it's about. It's much more about the intriguing way that it leaves Jimmy open with regard to his past. If he doesn't know who he is, he can believe anything that anybody tells him. That makes him very vulnerable."

Jimmy doesn't recognise Nicola or Carl
Is there also a humorous element to the storyline?
"Well you can't resist it, because there'll be people in the village who don't mind having a quick pop at Jimmy, so there'll be a few jokes along the way. But what I'm much more interested in is the horror of it. Just imagine that the people who are talking to you are strangers - one's telling you that he's your brother, one's saying that she's your wife - but they're completely alien. So, first of all, the paranoia is quite extreme because you don't know what to believe. Also, Carl and Nicola - particularly Carl - have got reason to not tell Jimmy everything. As soon as you begin to suspect that you're not being told everything, the world gets very dark indeed."

How does this affect things for Jimmy and Nicola?
"Well, he doesn't recognise Nicola at all and he also doesn't recognise his daughter Angelica. He has no feelings for Nicola - he doesn't find her unattractive but, at the same time, she's in his face giving him a lot of pressure to remember, which he finds increasingly intolerable. So the relationship looks like it's in a very bad way, particularly where we are in the storyline at the minute."

Jimmy leaves Nicola after snapping at her
Has it been challenging to portray Jimmy as a changed man after so long playing him?
"Well, he becomes a blank sheet but at the same time, he's not in other ways. He still has a moral centre. I think one of the most important things about Jimmy is that because of his background and what's happened to him in the past, he's decided that he would always try to do the right thing. So that's what you hold on to - when everything about a character is stripped away, you have to ask yourself: 'Who is this person essentially?' And Jimmy essentially is a person who wants to be true and honest, and wants to do the right thing. Another interesting thing is that, within the scripts, there's an open discussion about the nature of your character, which never usually happens because it's normally in subtext. So that's been quite fascinating as well."

Has it been emotional to film scenes where Jimmy doesn't remember Nicola?
"It's been awful - there were moments that we had to do the other day with Angelica, and we were all in tears. It is difficult because we're great mates, we spend a lot of time together and we've built up a lot of investment in those two characters and their love for each other. So it has been emotional playing this coldness - this absolute non-feeling for Nicola."

Jimmy tells Carl he cannot force himself to love Nicola
And how does the amnesia affect the brotherly relationship between Jimmy and Carl?
"Well, that's interesting as well because normally Jimmy is the person who's trying to push Carl in the right direction rather than the wrong one, and trying to keep him on the straight and narrow, and shoving him about a bit, really! But now it's the other way round - now Carl is really having to come to Jimmy's rescue. Of course, Carl is Carl and he's not very happy about it - he's grumpy and everything, but you can also see that Carl feels for his brother and he's trying to tie him down and anchor him. So Carl is very supportive of Jimmy."

What kind of role does Kelly play in the storyline as it moves forward?
"As Kelly caused Jimmy's head injury when they argued in Peterborough, the big question for Kelly is what happens after she realises Jimmy doesn't know anything about the fact that she's responsible for it. That gives her all kinds of scope that I can't go into, but I think you can imagine! If Jimmy doesn't really know anything and can be told anything, then her path is wide open…"

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