Shane Richie says he fears for Barbara Windsor’s ‘cruel’ Alzheimer’s-related decline

Adam White
Dame Barbara Windsor made her début in EastEnders as Peggy Mitchell in 1994: Getty

Shane Richie has spoken of his fears over the health of his former EastEnders co-star Barbara Windsor, who has been suffering with Alzheimer’s disease.

The actor, best known for playing Alfie Moon on the long-running BBC soap opera, said Windsor still recognises him when they see one another, but that he is fearful of her further decline.

Speaking to The Mirror, Richie said Windsor’s struggle “has been horrible”, adding: “You hear horror stories about someone with Alzheimer’s where they don’t recognise their own loved ones. That has to be the cruellest thing in the world.

“Babs always recognises me when she sees me but then I don’t know what it would be like the following day. Every time I have seen her, she has given me a big hug and she has these sparkling eyes and she is ‘Allo, sweetheart’. She is lovely.”

Richie, who has appeared on EastEnders on and off since 2002, said he hopes his former co-star can attend his new stage show.

“Babs still does get out,” he said, adding that her husband Scott Mitchell “is going to try and bring her to Richmond or Bromley to see me in The Entertainer”.

Windsor, who became a household name in Carry On films and playing pub landlady Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014.

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Earlier this month, Windsor and Mitchell called on Boris Johnson, the prime minister, to solve the dementia care crisis as they were named ambassadors of charity Alzheimer’s Society.

The couple released an open letter calling on Mr Johnson to sort out dementia care and encourage the public to sign it before it is delivered to 10 Downing Street in September.

Mitchell, who married the actress in 2000, was joined by stars from EastEnders to run the London Marathon earlier this year for the Dementia Revolution, a partnership between the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK. The team was called Barbara’s Revolutionaries.

Additional reporting by Press Association