Barbara Windsor’s husband reveals her Alzheimer’s battle

Deteriorating health has left 80-year-old former Eastenders star in ‘continual confusion’

Barbara Windsor
Barbara Windsor at a memorial service for comedian Ronnie Corbett at Westminster Abbey in June 2017
(Image credit: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)

Eastenders and Carry On star Barbara Windsor has been secretly battling Alzheimer’s disease for the past four years, her husband has revealed.

Scott Mitchell, 55, told The Sun that only a “small circle of friends” had been aware of her condition, but that circulating rumours about her health had prompted him to go public.

“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,” he said.

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Windsor, familiar to UK audiences for early ‘sexpot’ roles in the risque Carry On series and later her lengthy stint as Eastenders matriarch Peggy Mitchell, received the diagnosis in April 2014.

Despite taking medicine to slow the progression of the disease, in recent months the 80-year-old’s health has deteriorated, her husband told the newspaper.

“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,” he said.

Mitchell “first noticed symptoms of the condition in 2009, just before Windsor left EastEnders for the first time, when she began having difficulty learning her lines”, The Guardian reports.

After returning to the soap, she continued to struggle with remembering scripts, and her character was written out in 2016.

Mitchell said that Windsor was continuing to make the most of life despite the disease.

“We’re still going out for walks or dinner with friends and we still laugh together a lot. She loves going out and it’s good for her - she comes alive,” he said.

Alzheimer’s Research UK director Tim Parry said in a statement that the charity was “saddened” to hear of the diagnosis, but applauded Mitchell for “speaking out to encourage other affected individuals and families to do the same when it’s right for them”.

“It’s important to bring the disease out into the open as a crucial step towards us tackling it,” he said.

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