The husband of Dame Barbara Windsor has shared the EastEnders star’s ‘heartbreaking’ final days after her Alzheimer's worsened during lockdown.
Scott Mitchell, her husband of 20 years, appeared on Lorraine to remember his late wife following her death at the age of 83 in 2020.
Dame Barbara was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2014 and Scott revealed the news publicly four years later.
He said he first noticed symptoms of Alzheimer's in 2009, when Dame Barbara began finding it difficult to learn her lines.
By 2016, the forgetfulness and confusion were worse, and it was agreed she would leave her acting role as pub landlord Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders.
Scott described Alzheimer’s as ‘the cruellest of diseases’ as he described her dementia towards the end of her life, which he has written about in By Your Side: My Life Loving Barbara Windsor.
Host Lorraine Kelly said: “You don’t spare yourself and you don’t spare her. It was really tough. I had no idea how hard it was for you, for her and for everyone that loved her.”
Scott replied: “You are very powerless to stop it doing what it’s doing to the person you love.
“So all you can really do is you can be there, you learn as you go along as a carer.
“None of us are really equipped. I wasn’t qualified and it changed the whole time. So, you’re reacting the whole time to these new challenges.”
He continued: “It progresses and things do get more difficult and there’s less recognition with her and I.
“She would look at our photos and then she would look back at me and say, ‘How long have you lived here?’ and I had most likely been there over 25 years.
“I would say, ‘I’ve been here ages. That’s our wedding picture.’ Occasionally, she would go ‘Are we married?’ I’d say yes and she would go ‘yes!’ It was very sweet – but heartbreaking.”
Lorraine replied: “It’s bittersweet isn’t it? Because it’s really hard when she doesn’t know you. That's so difficult.”
Lorraine went on to note Dame Barbara’s ‘remarkable’ legacy after the couple delivered a letter to Downing Street signed by 100,000 people, requesting better support for people with Alzheimer's in 2019.
Scott then called on Liz Truss not to scrap the dementia task force announced by her predecessor Boris Johnson in memory of the late star.
He said the roughly £95 million in funding was at risk after recruitment for the project was paused in recent weeks.
He told Lorraine: “Now I understand that we are in a very bad place as far as the economy and savings and cuts. Dementia cannot be touched.
“This is about trialling new drugs and if we start that tomorrow it is going to be two or three years before we can get them actually active into the system. If you delay this now again, after all these years, we are going to be talking about another five or six years before this can happen.
“So, please, Prime Minister, if you listen to things like this, do not touch that money. Do not hold this. Do not delay this. That is the only thing that gets me passionate or political, is what people go through.”