With EastEnders fans set for heart-rending scenes as Patrick (Rudolph Walker) battles serious illness, the actor has described the storyline as "an honour".

Warning: spoiler alert!

Patrick suffers a stroke, with the makers of the show and Walker seeking to raise public awareness of the warning signs and the aftermath.

In an interview released by the BBC, Walker said of the story: "It's refreshing to see EastEnders take the bull by the horns and use its older actors and it's a hell of a responsibility for me.

"I did some research and I visited a hospital to speak to patients. So I sincerely hope that what comes through is something that's honest and true."

Viewers have already seen Patrick have a mini stroke, and Walker said of his character's reaction:  "For Patrick, strokes are things that happen to other people. He collapsed, he recovered, so there's no need to go to the doctor. 

"The message the series is putting out is, 'Whenever you get the slightest warning sign that something isn't right, you really should have a check-up'."  See: www.stroke.ie.

On portraying the aftermath, Walker said: "I found it very challenging, particularly the level of concentration that was required. You sit there and you have to be aware your left side is weak. His face is disfigured for 24 hours...

"Part of it was make-up and part of it was what I did as an actor, which was incredibly challenging. But that's what we do and that's what I found exciting about doing this storyline."