Danniella Westbrook describes moment Babs Windsor feared her memory was fading

Former EastEnders actress Danniella Westbrook has described the moment Dame Barbara Windsor feared she had dementia.

Barbara, one of the nation's best loves actresses, died "peacefully" aged 83 on Thursday night at a London care home with her husband Scott Mitchell by her side.

The actress, who battled dementia in her final years, became a TV favourite as Peggy Mitchell in the hit BBC soap, appearing in Walford between 1994 and 2016.

Danniella, 47, who starred as her on-screen daughter Sam Mitchell, has revealed Barbara told her she was struggling to remember her lines.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Friday morning, the soap actress said: “Quite a while before she left the show, I had come back from America to do EastEnders.

“I stayed with her husband Scott [Mitchell] and Barbara for a little while and she said to me, ‘Do you know what? This is just not going in’.

“‘This is just not going in. I’m not learning [the lines] quick enough, something isn’t right’, and I said, ‘Barbara, you have 30-40 pages a night to learn’.

“‘You’re at work 12-14 hours a day with the travelling and stuff’, and she said, ‘No, I know it’s not that’.”

Daniella added that the actress "knew something wasn’t quite right," and felt it was the beginning of the onset of her dementia.

She added: “My dad has dementia so I know for a fact you just know yourself and your own mind. For someone as fast and as feisty and as quick as Barbara and as an actor, to lose your memory is obviously the most soul-destroying thing that can happen.”

Barbara was diagnosed with dementia in 2014 but didn't publicly reveal she had the condition until 2018 when her symptoms worsened.

The actress was killed off from Eastenders in 2016 at her request.

Her husband Scott supported her decision to leave, and, at her request, he spoke to EastEnders producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins to convince him to kill Peggy off.

Barbara had been struggling to learn her lines before she left the soap and an autocue was provided for her on set, The Sun reported.

Scott said: "Barbara contacted the executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins to make the suggestion and, at first, he said, 'I can’t kill an iconic character.'

"So I went to see him and, without giving the full situation, confided that she was really struggling to learn lines and wouldn’t ever be coming back again after this.

"I asked that she have an autocue on set, just as a safety net. But in the end, she just used it to refresh her memory between takes."

He added he thought Peggy's death scenes were some of the best work she ever did.

Barbara rose to fame with her appearances in the Carry On films in the 1960s.

In her final months, Scott and Barbara campaigned for better help for those who suffer from Alzheimer's disease and for their families.

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