Shane Richie has spoken of his heartbreak at seeing Dame Barbara Windsor’s deterioration due to Alzheimer’s.
He said his former EastEnders co-star, 82, still remembers him but he fears for the future.
Shane, 55, added: “It has been horrible to see Babs’ decline.
“You hear horror stories about someone with Alzheimer’s where they don’t recognise their own loved ones. That has to be the cruellest thing in the world.
“Babs always recognises me when she sees me but then I don’t know what it would be like the following day.
“Every time I have seen her, she has given me a big hug and she has these sparkling eyes and she is ‘Allo, sweetheart’. She is lovely.”
He added he and Babs’ husband Scott Mitchell, 56, text each other every week discussing how she is.
Shane said he hopes Carry On legend Dame Barbara, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2014, will be able to attend during his forthcoming theatre run.
He said: “Babs still does get out. Scott is going to try and bring her to Richmond or Bromley to see me in The Entertainer.”
Shane has remained friends with Babs since she left EastEnders in 2016 after more than 20 years as Peggy Mitchell.
Shane’s character in the soap, Alfie Moon, faked his own death and fled months ago after conning Phil Mitchell out of £50,000.
But it may not be the last we have seen of Alfie. Shane said: “I could well go back to EastEnders.
“There’s been talk of a one-off special with Alfie and Phil in Spain and that might still happen.”
Shane formed one of the soap’s best loved couples with Jessie Wallace as Kat Moon, and revealed they recently had lunch in London. He added: “It’s hilarious because people do a double take when they see us.”
Shane said people “freak out” and think they have stumbled into a scene being filmed.
As Emma Barton, who plays Honey Mitchell in EastEnders, gets ready to compete in Strictly Come Dancing , Shane said the only way he would go on the show is to replace Tess Daly or Claudia Winkleman who present it.
He said being a contestant is “too much like hard work”, adding: “If the girls ever get tired of hosting it then I’d like the idea of hosting it one day.”
He tipped Emma, 42, to reach the final. Shane who has three kids with wife Christie – and two with ex Coleen Nolan – said there may be more children on the way.
He said: “Christie is only 40 so there is still time. We have been talking about another baby.
“Our daughters would love another brother or sister but now we are talking about adopting.”