Ted Lasso star Kola Bokinni speaks about ‘deterioration’ of father from dementia

Kola Bokinni has opened up about the “horrible deterioration” of his father following his diagnosis with vascular dementia.

The 31-year-old actor is known for dystopian Black Mirror, crime drama Top Boy and his biggest role as footballer Isaac McAdoo on the Apple TV+ series Ted Lasso.

Bokinni described his father as “a proud man, an amazing cook” who is “always smiling” and “loves a laugh”.

He told BBC Breakfast that his father was diagnosed following his cousin coming to his house and “uncle T” thinking it was his girlfriend.

The common condition, vascular dementia, is caused by reduced blood flow to the brain, which has symptoms including slowness of thought and problems with concentration, according to the NHS.

Bokinni also said: “It’s horrible. (To see) someone that you like idolise them, watch them, like just literally deteriorating in front of your eyes and it’s like, (there is) nothing you can do.”

When asked about if he received support following his father’s diagnosis, he said: “(They said) ‘The only thing we can do is make him comfortable while the disease progresses’.

“I mean, he’s completely different from what he was like, he’s like a different person… he doesn’t remember any of us.

“If you lose your memories, if you lose the ability to walk, to make yourself food, to have normal functioning behaviour, it’s all memory, it’s all inside, you know… if you lose that, then you lose almost everything about yourself.”

He also reflected on working as an actor while facing an “unbelievably difficult” time with his father.

Bokinni said: “He (my father) went missing for like, almost 12 hours, but they found him (on the) opposite side of London, just pyjamas and no shoes.

Ted Lasso photo call – London
(left to right) James Lance, Kola Bokinni, Billy Harris, Cristo Fernandez, Nick Mohammed and Jason Suedikis who star in Ted Lasso (Ian West/PA)

“Wherever I’m going and everyone’s like, ‘Oh my god, your life is going so well’. And back of my mind, I’m thinking ‘oh, little do you know’.”

Bokinni said his father is now in a care home, and he told how living with someone with dementia means “you have a good day when they have a good day and you have a bad day when they have a bad day”.

He said he is opening up about his father’s condition to help others as he went through “struggles” while trying to have a career.

Bokinni added: “Most people (are not) on the TV, they have a 9-5 (job) and they have to come home and deal with whole different job so I just wanted to show support and Alzheimer’s Research UK is doing a good job.”

The chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK said the charity is “incredibly grateful” to the actor for “bravely sharing the devastating impact of his father’s dementia, in a selfless effort to change the ending for others”.

Hilary Evans also said: “Tragically, Kola’s story is one many families are being forced to live through today and, as it stands, no-one survives dementia.”

She said the animated short film Change The Ending, voiced by Olivia Colman, is a “hard watch” but it will help raise awareness.

Oscar winner Colman plays the daughter of a man with dementia who refuses assistance in the film The Father, which shows how the illness can leave people worried and frightened, and how it has a huge impact on families.

Ms Evans said: “There has never been a more exciting time to support dementia research, as new treatments are finally on the horizon. But we must not lose momentum now – we must build on this progress to deliver a cure for every single person affected by dementia.”