Chris Ellison and his wife Anita speak to ITV's Good Morning Britain about his struggles with aphasia.
Chris Ellison's wife has spoken out about her husband's "lonely" journey with aphasia after Hollywood's Bruce Willis announced he was suffering from the same condition.
The 75-year-old actor, best-known for playing DCI Frank Burnside in The Bill, was diagnosed with the condition 18 months ago following a stroke. It has left him largely unable to speak, although he can understand everything.
The couple was inspired to share Ellison's diagnosis last weekend, after Willis' family announced the Die Hard actor would be stepping away from his acting career as the disorder was impacting his cognitive abilities.
Aphasia, which is most common in people over 65, is a condition that can make it difficult for people to talk, understand, read and write. It is estimated that one in three people are affected with the condition after a stroke.
Unscripted - Listen now
Ellison's wife Anita, 69, has become his full-time carer since he was diagnosed with aphasia 18 months ago following a stroke.
She told ITV's Good Morning Britain the couple had made the decision to open up about her husband's condition because it had been "so lonely", adding they had become "like hermits".
"It's been so lonely because Chris wouldn't go out", Anita said.
"We found when we did go out and he'd see people he felt really embarrassed and he'd just grab my arm because he knew he couldn't speak, and he didn't want people to see him like that."
Anita said hearing the news about Willis made her realise it was time for the actor to 'come out' and reveal he had been struggling.
"He's the same intelligent man inside and I feel he's still deserves the respect and love of everyone", she said.
When presenter Richard Madeley asked Ellison whether he felt better now people are aware of his aphasia, the actor struggled to reply.
"Well, I don’t know", he said, before Anita stepped in to say: "For me, I've seen a great change in Chris. He was immediately lifted because I explained what was going on".
She added Ellison could wear a lanyard that explained "I cannot reply, but I do understand", which meant he "doesn't feel like an idiot", when fans come up to speak to him in public.
There are different treatments for aphasia, including speech and language therapy. Some sufferers also find music therapy helpful.
Ellison was having singing lessons before his stroke, and is continuing with these, Anita said, adding "it really helps".
When asked what they would do now they felt less nervous to go out in public, Anita said the couple would "go for a walk on the seafront and go for lunch".
"I don't know before what was the matter with me, I think I've been in a kind of mourning really. It's taken me a long time to come to terms with it. I've cried so much. I was very emotional but now I feel a sense of relief".
For expert analysis and insight on the biggest stories listen to our podcast to find out What You Need To Know