Emmerdale kicked off a hard hitting storyline tonight as Ross Barton, played by actor Michael Parr, was left horrifically scarred after being the victim of a brutal acid attack as part of Debbie Dingle’s revenge on Joseph Tate.

Ross Barton in acid attack

It was a case of mistaken identity as drug dealer Simon threw acid in the face of Ross Barton (Michael Parr) thinking he was Joseph Tate (Ned Porteous). Simon, who’d already been rumbled by Graham Foster (Andrew Scarborough) for planting drugs at Home Farm, was working for Debbie Dingle (Charley Webb) as she paid him to ‘mess up Joe Tate’.

Unbeknown to Debbie, Joseph and Graham had already rumbled her plan to send Ross in as a spy and fired him from his job. Angry Ross, sick of being used by Debbie and now fired by Joe, grabbed his ex-boss’ car keys and took off in it back to the village.

As he got out of the car, Simon ran up and threw liquid in Ross’ face assuming he was Joe after seeing him in the car earlier. Ross screamed out and collapsed on the floor in agony, clutching his face.

Ironically, it was Joe and Graham who discovered Ross, with Graham immediately taking action and removing Ross’ acid covered shirt and throwing water to neutralise the acid.

As Ross was treated in hospital, brother Pete by his side, doctors battled to remove the acid from the wound and increase the pH level. Failing, the doctors told a distraught Ross that they would have to carry out a procedure which would involve removing some of the affected skin.

Obviously panicking, Ross repeatedly asked the doctors and his brother if he would ever be the same again but was meant with silence as viewers got the first look at the extent of his injuries.

The storyline is a massive undertaking for both Michael Parr and Emmerdale. Speaking to Soaplife, Michael said: “It is a big responsibility for me and one I was very nervous about taking on. I know it is a reality for some people so it is important to get it right. We want to raise awareness of the consequences an attack like that has on a person’s life.”

Michael has told the Radio Times earlier in the year: “It’s something to sink my teeth into and study. I can’t just get the scripts and learn my lines, there’s a lot of things I’ve got to learn and a lot of acting technique will be involved. It’s not a very straightforward storyline.

“I went to a method acting school and although you can’t really do ‘method’ style in a soap, this is probably the closest I will get to be to fully engaging in something.”

The number of acid attacks in the UK reached new highs in 2017, with London continuing to be a hot spot for such violence. The number of cases more than doubled from less than 200 in 2014 to 431 in 2016, with Scotland Yard focusing on specific parts of the city.

However, areas such as the West Midlands and Essex have also seen large rises in acid attacks in recent years as reports soared from 340 in 2014 to 843.

The most important thing you can do in the event of an acid attack is to douse the victim in running water, rather than a wet cloth. The water dilutes the acid, and so it’s important to keep refreshing with new, clean water, as quickly as possible.

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