The writer of Barbara Windsor’s biopic has revealed how her Alzheimer’s diagnosis changed the way he told her life story.
Tony Jordan was told about her illness two years ago – when he was picked to write Babs for the BBC.
The pair first met on EastEnders in 1994, when Barbara was brought in to play Peggy Mitchell, and have since remained close friends – last meeting up just three weeks ago for dinner.
Tony, 60, said: “When I did the biopic, I found out. It changed the way I approached her story. It was on my mind throughout. It was nice to do it as it meant getting Barbara back on screen, possibly for the last time.
“The way we ended it, with her singing that song, that was special to her. I remember talking to Scott (her husband) at the time. We were thinking she wouldn’t get to sing on stage again, so it was a nice thing to do.”
This week Scott spoke of his heartache over the cruel disease and how Barbara sometimes forgets they’re married.
He said: “She asks, ‘How long have you lived here?’ She’ll suddenly look at her wedding ring and say, ‘Are we married?’ And when I tell her we’ve been together 25 years and married for 18, she looks at me disbelievingly and says, ‘But I have no recollection of it’.”
Tony admitted he was shocked and sad when he first heard that Barbara had Alzheimer’s, and told how she had gone downhill over recent months.
But he says she was on top form again at their recent get-together.
He said: “We went for dinner with Scott and Barbara three weeks ago. She was on amazing form. She was funny, she was laughing. She went to the loo and got accosted by a woman who wanted a selfie. In typical Barbara style, she was in the toilet posing for 10 minutes. She came back laughing about it.”
But he says her deterioration sparked Scott’s decision to speak publicly.
“She has good and bad days but she’s still an amazing human being,” he said.
Tony hopes her fans will treat his friend as they always have. “If people see her in the street they must still shout, ‘Hello Babs’. She loves it.”
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