Christopher Eccleston in Aardman Animations' dementia film

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Media captionActor Christopher Eccleston features in the film

The makers of the Wallace and Gromit stories have recruited actor Christopher Eccleston for a film that tackles misconceptions about dementia.

Bristol's Aardman Animation's online film uses uses an orange to show how dementia physically attacks the brain.

Eccleston, 51, whose father had the condition, said he hoped it would "fight the misunderstanding and fatalism that surrounds dementia".

The film was made for Alzheimer's Research UK.

'Think differently'

The brain of an Alzheimer's sufferer can weigh around 140 grams less than a healthy brain - about the weight of an orange.

"We have to think differently about dementia. We have to stop believing dementia is an inevitability - something that simply happens to us all as we grow older," said Eccleston, from Salford, Greater Manchester.

"If we don't, we're never going to truly fight it."

His father Ronnie had the condition for 14 years before his death in 2012.

"Dementia is caused by diseases and diseases can be beaten. We've tamed diseases like cancer and heart disease and a diagnosis of either is no longer a certain death sentence," said Eccleston, who urges viewers to share the film on social media with the hashtag #sharetheorange.

"People with dementia deserve this same hope. This film aims to show that dementia is caused by physical processes that scientists can put a stop to."

'Stop fearing dementia'

Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer's Research UK, said: "Major breakthroughs have been made in the battle against Aids and cancer, and research will bring these same life-changing advancements in the field of dementia.

"To get there, we must stop fearing dementia as something that just happens as we age, and focus on fighting the diseases, most commonly Alzheimer's, that are the root cause of it."

In September, Aardman worked with Bristol Ageing Better to illustrate older people's experience of social isolation in the city.

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