Dame Barbara Windsor can no longer remember her friends’ names.
The 81-year-old actress is battling Alzheimer’s – a form of dementia – which has slowly "robbed" her of her memories and her friend Kellie Shirley admitted her former ‘EastEnders’ co-star can’t always recall who she is.
Kellie said: "A massive part of being an actor is remembering things. Your memories are such a big part of who you are. That’s why I feel for Barbara. She remembers so much about the past as clear as day yet she won’t remember my name."
But the 37-year-old star insisted spending time with Barbara isn’t always "bleak".
She added to S magazine: "We still have funny moments. It’s not bleak all the time, but it is hardcore. It’s a cruel disease that robs you of your memories."
Kellie is one of a number of soap stars to team up with the ‘Carry On’ actress’ husband Scott Mitchell to run the London Marathon to raise money in Barbara’s honour and she enjoys her weekly training sessions when she gets to catch up with the couple.
She said: "Any time I’m in town for an audition I’ll meet up with Barbara and Scott for a cup of tea. I’ve always done that. I’m training with Scott so we meet up on a Friday, run together and catch up. I find running so boring so chatting makes the time go faster."
Scott previously admitted his wife can no longer be left alone but he enjoys the "normal" moments they get to have together.
He said: "Barbara can’t be left alone any more. That’s the reality of it. She has to have constant care.
"She can’t look after herself but then we still sit and have dinner and watch TV and have normal conversations.
"There are also some funny moments where we laugh.
"The sweet side of Barbara has come out in actual fact. So far she hasn’t had that aggression that I know some people do get. That is part of it, that may come, I don’t know. But at the moment she is very sensitive to others."