Sunderland couple's joint battle with Parkinson's disease is turned into a film

The story of a couple’s battle against Parkinson’s disease has been turned into a film.

Friday, 18th October 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Friday, 18th October 2019, 12:45 pm

Russ Bradford and Charlotte Allen, who live near Houghton, met while receiving support for the brain illness and later co-founded an organisation to help fellow sufferers.

This led to interest from film companies and now Stages, a short movie about their joint ordeal, will be premiered to around 200 industry figures in London on Friday, October 18.

Among its stars are former Minder television actor Gary Webster, who starred opposite George Cole in the hit ITV series, and former EastEnders actress Noeleen Comiskey, who played Latvian character Marta Shirovs in the BBC soap opera.

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Charlotte Allen and Russ Bradford's joint battle with Parkinson's disease has been turned into a short film.

Ms Allen, 53, who runs a recruitment agency and has battled Parkinson’s for 16 years, said: “We hope it will increase people’s awareness of Parkinson’s and demonstrate that good can come out of bad.”

Father-of-two Mr Bradford, 47, who was diagnosed with the brain illness around eight years ago, added: “It will be watched by scouts from the television and film world to see if it can be turned into a full-length film or programme.”

Stages recreates how Miss Allen was diagnosed with Parkinson’s only a year after she was left a single mother following the suicide of her husband (played by Webster).

Made by Gripping Yarns Films, it also depicts the breakdown of Mr Bradford’s marriage following his own diagnosis and charts his struggles with his mental health as he is forced to wind up his successful hot tub, underfloor heating and property maintenance businesses.

Russ Bradford and Charlotte Allen, second and third left, with cast and production members from Stages, including Gary Webster, far right.

Mother-of-one Ms Allen, who is played by Comiskey, adds: “It covers mental health, Parkinson’s and suicide and because the actors believe in it so much they have given their time for free.”

Ms Allen said: “The film does not even cover Russ’s battle with the DWP. That would be a whole film in itself.”

Their organisation, Parkinson’s Concierge, which raises money on behalf of Parkinson’s charities and allows patients to exchange information, can be contacted via www.parkinsonsconcierge.com.

Russ Bradford, left, with actor Lewis Nicholas, who plays him in Stages.