Ross Kemp has told how his EastEnders friend Dame Barbara Windsor failed to recognise him as a result of her struggle with dementia.
The actress, 82 – who is best known for playing Walford’s pub landlady Peggy Mitchell - was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014.
Kemp, who played her son Grant in the BBC soap, has remained close to the actress and her husband Scott Mitchell and explores the condition in his new ITV programme Ross Kemp: Living With Dementia.
Speaking to The Sun, Kemp described a visit to see Dame Barbara, saying he was taken aback when she asked him who he was.
Don't miss the first part of ITV's Ross Kemp: Living with Dementia this Thursday. In the show, he finds out how the disease has impacted the life of his long-time screen colleague, Dame Barbara Windsor, & meets with her husband, & friend of Alzheimer's Research UK, Scott Mitchell pic.twitter.com/Lyjuo9yZzw— AlzheimersResearchUK 🍊 (@AlzResearchUK) June 8, 2020
The actor, 55, said it has been “deeply upsetting” to see the star’s condition deteriorate following her diagnosis.
He said: “I see her as often as I can – every couple of months before the lockdown – and the deterioration in her condition has been shocking and, to those of us close to her, deeply upsetting.”
The series sees Kemp speaking to Dame Barbara’s husband Mitchell about the illness.
Happy 80th birthday to the legend, Dame Barbara, love her pic.twitter.com/IPjrRWFjqY— Ross Kemp (@RossKemp) August 6, 2017
Mitchell told him: “It’s not the Barbara that I knew. It’s not my wife Barbara any more.
“I’m Barbara’s carer, I’m still her friend, you know, I still love the bones off the woman but it’s not the Barbara I knew, and you [did], that I live with.”
The actress is rarely seen in public these days.
Read more: Barbara Windsor makes rare TV appearance
But in January she described Alzheimer’s as “a cruel illness” as she made a rare appearance in a video message.
The soap legend was seen in a video played at the first Good Morning Britain 1 Million Minutes Awards.
In the clip, the actress awarded a man the inaugural Dame Barbara Windsor Award - an accolade for someone who has helped people with Alzheimer’s or dementia combat loneliness.
Addressing the winner, she said: “Volunteers like you are so important in the fight against loneliness, especially for those like us, who know all too well the struggles of a cruel illness.”