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Inside EastEnders star’s 57-year marriage to Fawlty Towers actor with dementia

Staying married for nearly 60 years is no easy feat, with many of us only dreaming to have a long-lasting partnership like that.

But for one former EastEnders star and his actress wife, the past 57 years have only brought them closer.

Timothy West is known for his role as Sean Carter on EastEnders from 2014 until 2015, Eric Babbage in Coronation Street in 2013 and Ted in Last Tango in Halifax, among others.

But it's his marriage to Fawlty Towers actress Prunella Scales that melted viewers' hearts as they watched their loving relationship on screen in Channel 4 boating series, Great Canal Journeys.

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Together they travelled the UK's most beautiful sites on water, and their strong bond was clear.

Prunella, now 88, played Sybil on the iconic hotel-based British comedy which also stars John Cleese.

She married Timothy, 87, in 1963 and the pair love spending time at their rambling Victorian home in Wandsworth.

But that's not to say the pair haven't faced their struggles.

To the heartbreak of viewers, Prunella has retired from television after 50 years in the business due to her ongoing battle with dementia.

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In March 2020, Timothy revealed that Prunella suffered with the disease for 20 years.

The Express reported he said: “It’s been incredibly tough over the past 20 years to see the gradual disappearance of the person that I love. But we still enjoy life together and I can’t compare it with anything else at the moment.

“Pru is all right when she is with me and we get away to the Lake District for lovely walks and visit our favourite pub in West Wales, but when I’m working it’s not good.

“She doesn’t travel with me and because she is not good at being left on her own, she is joined by her lovely carer Gillian.

“I had to leave her when I was ­filming in Yorkshire for Last Tango. Of course I miss her desperately when I’m away but it’s good to know she is safe. Sadly we won’t be doing anything more together TV-wise although it was wonderful when it happened."

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For decades, one of the industry’s most loved, respected and accomplished couples, they have appeared in many TV and theatre projects together, including Joe Orton’s What The Butler Saw, Radio 4 play Faith, and JB Priestley’s When We Are Married, a great comedy about three respectable West Yorkshire couples who discover on their joint silver wedding anniversary that due to a technical oversight they are not married at all.

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They will soon celebrate a whopping 58 years at each others' sides in October, making their marriage one of the most successful and enduring in British show-business.

Pru’s condition means she can’t remember the year they were ­married or when their two sons, Sam (an actor) and Joseph (a translator who lives in France) were born. West also has a daughter, Juliet, from his first marriage to actress Jacqueline Boyer and seven grandchildren.

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“It cuts off the areas of communication really,” he admits.

“On Sunday, we had a lovely lunch with all of the family. And then Pru went off and had a sleep in the afternoon because she can’t cope with a whole day of family really and she gets tired.”

As with many dementia patients, Pru’s long-term memory is good.

“She can recall events from her childhood before she even met me. But what happened before breakfast – or even last night – is not so good," Timothy said.

“Her vascular dementia has been a very slow development but it’s become more of a worry."

  • Eastenders

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