Alzheimer’s-stricken Prunella Scales has been forced to quit TV show Great Canal Journeys due to her ailing health.
The 87-year-old Fawlty Towers star and her husband Timothy West will be replaced by Celebrity Gogglebox stars Gyles Brandreth and Sheila Hancock on the Channel 4 show, it was revealed on Wednesday.
Discussing their departure, a source told The Sun: ‘It’s not a decision Pru and Tim have taken lightly but they’re delighted it’s Gyles and Sheila.’
Farewell: Alzheimer’s-stricken Prunella Scales and her husband Timothy West (pictured last year) have been forced to quit Channel 4’s Great Canal Journeys due to her ailing health
Prunella filmed her last show in October 2019, but the couple appeared in more than 30 episodes of the programme.
The actress became a household name as Sybil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers, and the award-winning thespian, threw their support behind their successors.
The couple said in a statement to The Sun: ‘Good luck Gyles and Sheila. Enjoy the countryside and the pubs.’
Successors: BFFs, actress Sheila, 86, and former Conservative MP Gyles, 71, took part in Celebrity Gogglebox last year
Sheila, 86, is a critically-acclaimed actress who has starred on both West End and Broadway, and even played the role as Mimi Vincent in drama series Delicious last year.
Gyles’ career, meanwhile, has seen the 71-year-old dabble in TV, radio, writing and politics, and more recently presenting.
Despite quitting the series, Tim will briefly join former Conservative MP Gyles and Casualty star Sheila in the first episode of the upcoming series, which is set to start later in the year.
Beloved pair: Alzheimer’s-stricken Prunella, 87, and actor Timothy, 85, have hosted the long-running series since 2014 (pictured in 2018)
The show documented journeys Prunella and Timothy, who have been married for nearly six decades, would take on narrowboats across Europe, Egypt and India, and were involved in campaigning to revive the Kennet & Avon Canal in the Eighties.
MailOnline has contacted Prunella and Timothy’s representatives for further comment.
The hobby has provided the couple with endless delight since their children were small, and their summers spent pootling along Britain’s waterways in their narrowboat inspired a gentle TV documentary in 2014.
The show was the first in a run of four on the tiny More4 channel, an offshoot of Channel 4.
Diverse trips: The show documented journeys the couple would take on narrowboats across Europe, Egypt and India (pictured in 2017)
Screen legend Prunella revealed in 2013 that she was struggling with her memory, and could not even recall the year she married her husband – which was 1963.
In a 2015 interview with The Independent, Tim revealed the heartache at seeing his wife slip away amid her battle, admitting that while he cherishes the time he has with her, the effects of the disease made communication difficult.
‘The sad thing is that you just watch the gradual disappearance of the person you knew and loved and were very close to,’ he said. ‘If you live day to day it is manageable.
‘It is when you start thinking of the past and you think, “Oh what a shame she can’t do that any more”, or you can’t talk about this any more. Then it is sad.’
Hard battle: Screen legend Prunella revealed in 2013 that she was struggling with her memory, and could not even recall the year she married her husband (pictured in 2017)
Tim and Prunella married in 1963, after meeting on the set of a TV costume drama. Tim had been briefly married before and had a daughter, Juliet. The couple went on to have two sons: Sam is an actor and his brother Joseph is a translator.
Nowadays, Prunella’s short-term memory is severely affected as she frequently can’t remember things she did or said just a few minutes earlier.
Tim’s career is still blooming as viewers might recognise him best from the soap EastEnders, when he was the patriarch of Albert Square, Stan Carter, until five years ago.
More recently, he was landowner Jeremy Lister in BBC1’s period drama Gentleman Jack this year, and Private Godfrey in a trio of Dad’s Army remakes.
Couple goals: The pair have been married for nearly six decades (pictured together in 1963)
WHAT IS DEMENTIA? THE KILLER DISEASE THAT ROBS SUFFERERS OF THEIR MEMORIES
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of neurological disorders
A GLOBAL CONCERN
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders (those affecting the brain) which impact memory, thinking and behaviour.
There are many different types of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common.
Some people may have a combination of types of dementia.
Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience their dementia in their own unique way.
Dementia is a global concern but it is most often seen in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live into very old age.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE AFFECTED?
The Alzheimer’s Society reports there are more than 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK today, of which more than 500,000 have Alzheimer’s.
It is estimated that the number of people living with dementia in the UK by 2025 will rise to over 1 million.
In the US, it’s estimated there are 5.5 million Alzheimer’s sufferers. A similar percentage rise is expected in the coming years.
As a person’s age increases, so does the risk of them developing dementia.
Rates of diagnosis are improving but many people with dementia are thought to still be undiagnosed.
IS THERE A CURE?
Currently there is no cure for dementia.
But new drugs can slow down its progression and the earlier it is spotted the more effective treatments are.
Source: Alzheimer’s Society