Coronation Street star Julie Goodyear is living with dementia, her husband has revealed.
The 81-year-old actress played Bet Lynch, and left the soap in 1995 after winning a Lifetime Achievement Award for her role in the first ever National Television Awards.
She was made an MBE in the 1996 New Years Honours.
Her husband, Scott Brand, revealed Julie's diagnosis in a statement saying: "My darling wife and I have had to come to terms with this heart-breaking diagnosis.
"Unfortunately, Julie has been suffering forgetfulness for some time and we have been seeking medical advice and assistance, but we now know that there is no hope of a reversal in the situation – and that her condition will get progressively, and perhaps speedily, worse.
"We have taken the decision to publicly announce the diagnosis as Julie still loves visiting friends and eating out.
"Inevitably she is recognised, and fans love to meet her - and she them - but she can get confused particularly if she is tired. I hope people will understand."
Julie remains a patron of Willow Wood Hospice in Greater Manchester.
Hilda Hayo, who is the chief admiral nurse and chief executive at Dementia UK, said: “We’re sorry to hear that Julie Goodyear has been diagnosed with dementia, and hope that she and her family are receiving the support and assistance they need at this time.
“By choosing to speak publicly about her diagnosis, Julie and her family will raise vital awareness of dementia and we hope that this will encourage others to seek advice if they have concerns for their brain health.”
Goodyear, who was a staple on Coronation Street for more than 20 years, left Weatherfield in 1995 and subsequently made brief appearances on the soap.
Best remembered for her trademark leopard print-clothing, her character was named the UK’s favourite TV landlady in 2013 in a survey of 1,000 adults by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra).
Lynch beat Peggy Mitchell, who was played by Barbara Windsor on EastEnders, with 22% of respondents voting in favour of her to Windsor’s 20%.
She has also been a feature of reality TV with appearances on Celebrity Fit Club, Come Dine With Me and a celebrity special of Stars In Their Eyes.
Goodyear married Brand, her fourth husband, in 2007, and discussed their marriage in an interview for Piers Morgan’s Life Stories.
She told Morgan in 2013 the marriage was “alright”, and asked whether she loved him she responded: “Well, I must do, or I wouldn’t still be with him.”
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