Dame Barbara Windsor has spoken publicly for the first time since it was revealed she has Alzheimer’s disease, vowing “to carry on”.
Last week her husband, Scott Mitchell, disclosed the EastEnders and Carry On star had been diagnosed in April 2014.
In a recorded message played on ITV’s Loose Women she wished panellist Jane Moore a happy birthday and thanked fans for their support.
Journalist Moore, a friend of the actress, broke the story in the Sun.
In her Loose Women message, Dame Barbara said: “Hi Jane, and all the Loose Women, it’s Barbara Windsor here.
“I just want to wish you a very happy birthday, darling Jane. Thank you, thank you so much for being a loyal and good friend and helping Scott share my recent news.”
Dame Barbara also praised the public for all their kindness.
“Thank you to everyone for the lovely messages of support that I’ve been receiving, it really means such a lot to me, it truly does,” she said
“Have a great day and have no fear, as I still intend to carry on, and God bless everyone.”
The video prompted Moore’s eyes to fill with tears and she praised Mr Mitchell for the way he’s supported his wife through her illness.
Dame Barbara’s husband revealed last week that she had been taking medication to manage her condition, but that symptoms had worsened in recent weeks.
He said he wanted to stop any rumours about Dame Barbara’s deteriorating health.
“Since her 80th birthday last August, a definite continual confusion has set in, so it’s becoming a lot more difficult for us to hide,” he said.
“I’m doing this because I want us to be able to go out and, if something isn’t quite right, it will be OK because people will now know that she has Alzheimer’s and will accept it for what it is.”
Dame Barbara is one of Britain’s best-loved stars. She appeared in nine Carry On films and played the pub landlord Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders.
She was also in sitcoms including Dad’s Army and One Foot in the Grave.
In 2009 she was given a lifetime achievement award at the British Soap Awards.