Barbara Windsor’s heartbroken husband Scott Mitchell has revealed that she’s begun to forget who he is.
Married to the EastEnders legend for 18 years, he fought back tears as he revealed her Alzheimer’s is starting to rob her of her memories of their marriage.
Admitting it had been his biggest fear since her diagnosis in 2014, he told Loose Women, "It happened the other week, I helped her out of the bath and she looked at me and said, ‘I don’t know who you are.’"
Scott – who is 25 years younger than Barbara, 81 – said that her personality has also changed, describing how his beloved wife has lost some of her famous ‘sparkle’.
“I’ve always said, something happened to her personality. It was almost as if, I’ve always felt some veil came over her. You think to yourself, ‘Well maybe she’s getting a bit older, she’s 81 now.’ She was in her early 70s then. So, I accepted that as part of the course,’" he said.
And he shared his guilt at sometimes losing his patience with the repetitive nature of the devastating disease.
“Obviously, the thing I think that most people who have a loved one with this illness will get is the testing, challenging thing of the repetitive nature of it," Scott, 55, said.
"For instance, when you’re sitting there of an evening and maybe the same question comes at you, however many times, let’s see eight to 20 times in one evening, sometimes it’s hard to keep that calmness in your voice, to not show that you’re slightly irritated.
"As much as you love someone, you’re human and you get to that point where you yourself may have had a day – I’ve got my own work to do, I’m thinking about Barbara – occasionally I show it.
"And I’m always mortified afterwards if I show it. I said to Jane in the interview, she won’t remember what I’ve said, but she’ll remember how I’ve made her feel.”
Scott made the appearance with his wife’s permission while she watched from home, and he revealed how he first managed to tackle what can be a difficult subject to broach with loved ones.
"At first when we had the diagnosis, because I said to Barbara first of all, ‘You’re getting a bit forgetful and I think we ought to go and see someone, because if there’s a bit of wear and tear maybe they’ll give you something that’ll help it’. I faced no resistance from her at all," he said.
"I was really lucky in that sense, she came along willingly. Deep down I didn’t think it was going to be what it was. I just wanted to be safe," he recalled.
It took two years for a diagnosis, and fighting back tears Scott revealed how Barbara’s first words to him were, "I’m sorry."
But despite the devastating effects of the illness – Barbara, who appeared on camera at the weekend to promote his fundraising efforts – hasn’t lost her inner star quality.
The couple recently enjoyed a West End matinee of 42nd Street with EastEnders’ Jake Wood (Max Branning) and his wife, where Scott said Babs was treated to a moving show of support from the entire theatre.
"One little and went up to wave at us and she waved back. And suddenly there was a whole sea of hands waving back," he said.
"It’s really strange, that part of the brain just kicks in instantly with Barbara. At the interval, she chats to everyone like she would, saying ‘isn’t it fantastic, all this tap dancing like the old days?’ Next minute she’s doing a little shimmy down the aisle for them all, and I thought, ‘wow’.
Scott is now gearing up to run the London Marathon to raise money for Dementia Revolution.
*Loose Women continues weekdays at 12.30pm on ITV
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