Along with millions of other people worldwide this Christmas I watched the final episode of Downton Abbey on TV. I was intrigued to see that the butler, Mr. Carson, had to end his career through what looked very much like the onset of Parkinson’s Disease. His hand shook so much he could no longer pour the wine without spilling it. When questioned about the problem he said he knew that it was “the palsy” and that his father and grandfather had both had it too.
I thought there would be lots of mention of this in the Parkinson’s news as Downton has been such a worldwide hit but I found very little mention. It always seems to raise the profile of the disease when it affects someone well known. So I did a little research on the internet which revealed that Carson probably had an Essential Tremor rather than Parkinson’s. It seems the Downton creator, Julian Fellowes is also suffering from the condition Essential Tremor and initially he feared it was the start of Parkinson’s Disease. Medical experts say the condition, often abbreviated to ET, affects around four out of 100 adults aged over 40. There is no cure for the tremors, which may become so severe that the whole body shakes. I learned that the tremor is an action tremor whereas Parkinson’s is a resting tremor. Lord Julian Fellowes has since committed to helping other sufferers by becoming president of the National Tremor Foundation.
Perhaps Mr Carson’s problem will in some way help raise the profile and funding of neurological disorders in general in the coming year.