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This article was published in October 2010. The information may be out of date. Please check our epilepsy information or our site A-Z.

Coronation Street’s epilepsy storyline

22 Oct 2010

In ITV1’s Coronation Street on Friday 22 October, the character David Platt was told he may have epilepsy. On Thursday 25 November, he was diagosed with idiopathic epilepsy.

What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is currently defined as a tendency to have recurrent seizures (sometimes called fits). A seizure is caused by a sudden burst of excess electrical activity in the brain, causing a temporary disruption in the normal message passing between brain cells. This disruption results in the brain’s messages becoming halted or mixed up.

There are around 40 different types of seizure, ranging from brief absent moments, to episodes of losing consciousness, falling to the floor and convulsing.

Is it common?

Yes,  one person in every 131 in the UK has epilepsy.  That’s nearly half a million people.  One person in 20 will have a single seizure at some point in their lives.  Across the world, around 50 million people have epilepsy.

Is it treatable?

Yes, by either finding the right medication for them, or through surgery or other types of treatment.  However, only 52 per cent of people with epilepsy in the UK are currently seizure-free. It is estimated that 70 per cent could be seizure free with the right treatment. more info

What causes epilepsy?

Sometimes the reason epilepsy develops is clear. It could be because of brain damage caused by a difficult birth; a severe blow to the head; a stroke; or an infection of the brain such as meningitis. Very occasionally the cause is a brain tumour. Epilepsy with a known cause is called ‘symptomatic’ epilepsy. For most people - six out of ten, in fact - there is no known cause and this is called ‘idiopathic’ epilepsy

Is it likely that someone could have their first seizure while driving?

Yes.  A first seizure can happen at any time.  For some people, that will be while they are driving.  In the UK, anyone who has a first seizure must stop driving and notify the DVLA (or DVANI in Northern Ireland) more info

Have the writers taken any advice on how to portray David’s epilepsy?

The writers contacted Epilepsy Action and spoke to one of our trained helpline advisers.  We have no control or influence over how the storyline has eventually been written.

Can I get more information about epilepsy?

Our website has lots of information about epilepsy.  Epilepsy Action is the UK’s largest member-led epilepsy charity. 

One piece of important information that everybody should know is epilepsy first aid.

How do I have my say about how Coronation Street has portrayed epilepsy?

  • You can contact ITV by phone, email or letter and give them praise, feedback or to make a complaint
  • If you are making a complaint, you can contact Ofcom, the UK television regulator. 

In our experience, members of the public making their own complaints have much more weight than organisations (such as Epilepsy Action) making a complaint of behalf of people.

We’d like to hear what you think too.  Please either leave a comment on this page, or post your thoughts on our Facebook group.

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