Harvey and Tracy standing next to the Emmerdale sign
Harvey Rogerson & Makaton advisor Tracy Clark

Drama & soaps

Makaton is being used increasingly more within mainstream TV.

EastEnders on BBC 1

Our most recent collaboration has been with the popular BBC soap EastEnders, a storyline demonstrating how the use of Makaton, can support someone with sudden hearing loss, to communicate with their immediate world, during a frightening and challenging time.

Emmerdale on ITV 1

Harvey and Zoe
Harvey Rogerson & Zoe Henry

The TV soap Emmerdale introduced a new character. Marlon and Rhona were advised their son will be born with Down's syndrome and the couple decide to go ahead with the birth and support their baby. Their son Leo, played by Harvey Rogerson, uses Makaton to communicate on and off screen. Storylines show how life isn’t much different for him and his Mum to anyone else in the village, it depicts different characters learning and having a go at Makaton to communicate and include Leo, as he grows up.

"I trained to use Makaton over 30 years ago whilst working in the care sector and it’s such a joy to be able to use it again on set. Hopefully its use on Emmerdale brings more awareness of its brilliant ability to aid learning and communication. I’m rusty to be fair, after such an absence of use, but we have a brilliant Makaton advisor, Tracy, who guides us and makes sure what we perform is correct and accurate. Its simplicity is what I love, and both Mark and I have found ourselves enjoying learning new signs with each new week."
Zoe Henry, who plays Rhona Goskirk, mum of Leo Goskirk

Emmerdale’s Down's syndrome storyline

Although we work in collaboration with the show on occasions, we do not have any influence over their storylines. Our role is to support the actors in the use of Makaton as and when required. 

We value the amazing work that has been achieved to raise awareness of Down's syndrome over the years, and it is this constant effort from supporters that has pushed meaningful discussion into mainstream conversation, and allowed previously ignored communities to have a voice and to be included.  

The Makaton Charity is fully committed to helping to extend this voice through our sign and symbol work, enabling more people to have a voice regardless of their age, culture or needs. As a result of this storyline, we have linked up with the Down’s Syndrome Association, who have offered to support anyone affected by this storyline, by calling 0333 1212 300 or emailing [email protected].