Barbara Windsor has Alzheimer’s disease, husband reveals

EastEnders and Carry On star kept diagnosis secret for four years but symptoms are getting worse

Barbara Windsor: kept news of Alzheimer’s secret.  Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Barbara Windsor: kept news of Alzheimer’s secret. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

 

Barbara Windsor, one of Britain’s favourite TV personalittues has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, her husband has revealed.

Scott Mitchell said Windsor (80), best known for her roles in EastEnders and the Carry On films, had kept the news secret since she was first told four years ago, but that her symptoms had grown worse in recent weeks.

In an interview with the Sun, Mr Mitchell said he wanted to set the record straight because rumours about Windsor’s health.

“Since her 80th birthday last August, a definite continual confusion has set in, so it’s becoming a lot more difficult for us to hide. I’m doing this because I want us to be able to go out and, if something isn’t quite right, it will be OK because people will now know that she has Alzheimer’s and will accept it for what it is.”

The star, famous for her roles in nine Carry On films and for playing pub landlord Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders, was given the diagnosis in 2014. After shedding some tears, her first words were: “I’m so sorry”, Mr Mitchell added.

A small circle of friends who had begun to notice her occasional confusion were told shortly after the diagnosis, he said. But he stopped the news from going public after his wife struggled to come to terms with it.

He stressed that revealing the news any earlier would have been detrimental to her health.

Mr Mitchell told the paper he first noticed symptoms of the condition in 2009, just before Windsor left EastEnders for the first time, when she began finding it difficult to learn her lines.

By 2016, her forgetfulness was getting worse, and it was agreed she would leave EastEnders for the final time, Mr Mitchell said. She has now retired from charity work as well as acting.

Ross Kemp, who played Windsor’s on-screen son Grant in EastEnders, tweeted: “Very proud of Scott and Barbara for speaking openly about Barbara’s diagnosis. I hope by talking openly it will make it easier for others to talk about this dreadful disease. I love both Barbara and Scott very much.”

Others also wrote messages of support. The TV presenter Gaby Roslin said: “My beautiful dear friend Dame Barbara Windsor is an amazing woman and I will love her and wonderful Scott for ever. We’ve been friends for so many years and they are strong and brave together.” – PA