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Paul O’Grady gives update on pal Barbara Windsor’s dementia battle

The old friends are in touch regularly

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They’ve been friends for decades, and now Paul O’Grady has given fans an update on how Dame Barbara Windsor is doing, four years after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

The TV presenter revealed that the 81-year-old actress is still in good spirits; enjoying socialising and seeing her friends – who are impressed by the way she’s retained her long-term memory.

Paul also said that when Babs repeats herself, he just carries on and pretend he hasn’t “heard it before”.

(Credit: Fameflynet)
Paul says he recently ran into his old friend (credit: Fameflynet)

Although he admits Babs’ short-term recall isn’t always great.

Paul, 63, told The Sun: “Barbara is a sweetheart. We are in touch all the time. People write her off, but she’s doing really well. She went to the panto the other night and to 42nd Street.

“I ran into her and said, ‘What’s your mum’s Co-op number, can you remember?’ She told me, then said, ‘How the hell do we remember that?’ I said, ‘Do you remember me?’ And she said, ‘You’re hard to ever forget.'”

The wonderful Babs is best known as landlady of the Queen Vic on EastEnders (credit: BBC)

He also revealed that the former EastEnders icon – who had a heart op earlier this year – sometimes can’t remember what she’s just said, saying: “If she does repeat herself, you just answer it and carry on like you haven’t heard it before.”

Read more: Barbara Windsor enjoys emotional night out with ex-EastEnders co-star Adam Woodyatt

The veteran TV star has been there for the Carry On actress from day one of her diagnosis.

Ross Kemp and Dame Barbara Windsor
Barbara still gets out and about to see old friends – including former co-star Ross Kemp (credit: Twitter @rosskemp)

He has also praised Barbara’s husband Scott Mitchell as “remarkable” for caring for her as she battles the illness, telling the Mirror in October: “She is doing really well, and he is remarkable, Scott. Since she has had the pacemaker, I’ve been to see her.

“The love they have for each other, it breaks your heart. She knows who I am. She’s fine.”

He added: “I used to look after people with Alzheimer’s and it really is hard. One minute they are really off the spectrum and the next they are lucid and saying, ‘I’m really sorry,’ – it’s heartbreaking.”

Barbara Windsor's husband Scott
Barbara’s husband Scott has opened up about dealing with her condition (credit: ITV)

Scott, 55, went public with his wife’s illness earlier this year, revealing the emotional moment the doctor told them the news.

He said on Loose Women: “We were sitting down and Dr Kennedy said, ‘Look I’m really sorry, it is Alzheimer’s.’ And Barbara just looked at me and said, ‘I’m so sorry.’

“First you think it’s because she’s getting older – she was in her 70s then – and I accepted that as par for the course.

Babs was diagnosed with dementia four years ago (Credit: Getty Images)

Read more: Former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown dies aged 77

“It’s been such a gradual thing, I said, ‘First of all you’re getting forgetful and I think we ought to see someone because if there is wear and tear we may be able to get something to help it’ and I was faced with no resistance, so I was really lucky in that sense.”

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