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Barbara Windsor: Christopher Biggins reveals his upset over her Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Barbara Windsor: Christopher Biggins reveals his upset over her Alzheimer’s diagnosis
11 May
10:30

barbara windsorAlan Davidson/Silverhub/REX/Shutterstock

Barbara Windsor has had continual confusion since last August

Many of his treasured recollections are of X-rated nights spent in the company of Dame Barbara where the two inseparable friends would snipe, gossip and make mischief.
Dame Barbara, 80, was first told she was suffering with the incurable illness in 2014 and her close companion knows things will never be the same again as the cruel disease slowly muddles her brain.
The star told the Daily Express yesterday: “I think Barbara feels embarrassed about this diagnosis and, if I am honest, the signs were there.
“I have been out for dinner with Barbara, [her husband] Scott and my partner Neil and she will ask me a question and then the same question six or so minutes later and Scott will say, ‘You’ve just asked Biggins that’, and she’ll say, ‘Of course, sorry’.

“I know that’s extremely frustrating for her and I imagine that will probably get worse.”
Biggins, 69, loved by millions as character Lukewarm in the prison sitcom Porridge, desperately worries that one day soon Ba, as he calls the queen of showbusiness, will not be able to recall her boozy nights out and a glittering career that began in music halls as a 13-year-old.
He said: “We have had some riotous times at The Ivy, which is right up our street because it’s such an extraordinarily theatrical place. Ba and I feel right at home there. 
“We have annihilated so many people in that place over dinner and drinks because she likes a good gossip does Ba, she always wants to know who has split up with their partner and who is having an affair with who. We are so indiscrete. 

“I have got such a loud voice and Ba has got such a wonderful, infectious laugh that it’s a miracle the whole restaurant hasn’t heard what we have been talking about.”
He added: “I worry, of course I do, and it’s such a shame. None of us wants to lose memories. 
“People say if you could lose a sense what would it be? Sight, speech, smell? 
“It’s a very difficult question but the one thing you cling onto in old age are memories.
“My mother died three weeks ago – she wanted to go because she’d had enough. 

“She also suffered with Alzheimer’s and kept repeating herself. 
“The last time my brother and I went down to see her she slept for three hours but just before I left I said, ‘Can you see me mum?’ 
“And she replied, ‘Of course I can see you, you’re so bloody big’.”
Biggins is at home playing to packed theatres and some of the happiest times of his life have been on the road with Ba. 
Over the years he has become a confidante and sounding board but has always been amazed at how well she has handled her baggage, as he puts it. 

He laughs as he says: “When we did Guys and Dolls I took I upon myself to arrange all the accommodation and we had a fabulous time but I will always remember when we had finished in Glasgow and we moved to Edinburgh she told me she already had somewhere to stay. 
“We dropped her at this friend’s house, actually I think it was a mega-fan, and she called me 15 minutes later saying, ‘Get me out of this place’. 
“She had to walk up 30 flights of stairs in a block of flats to get to this place and when she did it was like a Barbara Windsor museum with pictures, tributes and scented candles everywhere. 
“We had to rescue her but we laughed all the time, that was just the way it was. 

He said: “She is the most extraordinary life force and someone who has lived every single moment of her life to the full.
“She’s had her ups and downs, problems with men and with her career, but has always pulled through.
“I first met her when her career was in the doldrums and she couldn’t really get any work so we did old time musicals around the country and she would sing The Boy I Love is up in the Gallery – she was a good old musical hall star like Marie Lloyd.
“It was amazing because she had this incredible career beforehand but she never felt she was going through a bad patch, she always had this positivity. Then, of course, along came EastEnders which was perfect for her. 

“People were a bit wary if giving her that part because of all the baggage that came from her East End roots but she always wanted to do the show and boy she did play Peggy Mitchell with aplomb. She was absolutely fantastic right up until her final scenes.”
East End born Dame Barbara’s Cockney charms have entertained Britain for decades. 
Her stellar theatre, television and film career spans six decades and to millions she is known as The Queen Vic’s indomitable landlady Peggy Mitchell, but to a generation of older fans she will be always be remembered for her scantily clad, saucy roles in nine Carry On films. 
Her busty 4ft 10in figure was an instant hit and few will forget the moment in Carry On Camping when her bra flew into the face of Kenneth Williams during an outdoor exercise class.

Since her 80th birthday last August, a definite continual confusion has set in

Scott

She has received a flood of support from well-wishers after Scott, 55, her husband of 18-years, gave a deeply moving account of her illness in the hope of showing others that being struck down is not a life sentence. 
Speaking of the shock diagnosis he said: “When the doctor told us, she began crying then held it back, stretched her hand out to me and mouthed, ‘I’m so sorry’. 
“I squeezed her hand back and said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll be OK’. I can’t protect her any longer.
“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. We hope people will accept it for what it is.”

Biggins said: “Ba will look back on her glorious back catalogue of work and watch herself on TV but, in time, I don’t know whether she will think she is seeing someone else, or even think, ‘Is that me?’
“All she can do is carry on fighting, but that is what she has done all her life. The affection that Scott gives her is extraordinary but now, more than ever, she needs reassurance and that’s what we will give her.
“I will always be there for Ba. We will still go to the theatre and have dinner and I am happy to pop round to see her for a cup of tea, just to say hi and have a good old gossip. 
“I just want to sit with her, talk to her and be there for her. I just hope she recognises me. 
“But do you know what, it doesn’t matter if she doesn’t because I know who she is and what a fabulous friend she has been to me for 40 years and that’s all that matters. And nothing will change that.”

He added: “Even though she has had this terrible disease for four years Ba, to this day, still rings me up and asks whether I have any work.
“She took us to Venice once and even there so many people were stopping her asking for pictures and selfies but it was never a problem. 
“She has always remembered that it was the public that made her and they love her for it.
“She is like royalty and has the unique talent of making someone feel the most special person in the world, even if it’s just speaking to them for a brief moment.
“I know a lot of international stars who can’t bear the public but Ba is not one of them.
“Her whole career has been made by the public – she has never forgotten that – and she absolutely loves them to bits.”

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