Prunella Scales’ son Samuel West insists his mother can still work despite losing ‘virtually all short term memory’ in Alzheimer’s battle
It was feared that Prunella Scales would never be able to act professionally again, due to her battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
But the son of the Fawlty Towers actress, 88, Samuel West, believes she has what it takes to return to the small screen, despite having ‘virtually no short-term memory.’
Prunella is best known for her role as Basil Fawlty’s wife, Sybil, in the iconic BBC comedy, and she began showing early signs of dementia in 2014 before announcing her official retirement from TV in January this year.
Devastating: Prunella Scales began showing early signs of dementia in 2014 before announcing her official retirement from TV in January this year (pictured in 2017)
In an interview with The Daily Star on Sunday, her actor son, 54, revealed that ‘she still reads quite well’ and is able to still work.
Sam, who currently stars in Channel 5 remake of All Creatures Great And Small, said that it is difficult to hold conversations with his mother who is becoming ‘increasingly deaf’.
Nevertheless, he revealed that she still has ‘extraordinary areas’ of knowledge that are ‘still there’ and professed that she ‘still reads quite beautifully.’
Have faith: The son of the Fawlty Towers actress, 88, Samuel West, believes she has what it takes to return to the small screen, despite having ‘virtually no short-term memory’
The thespian was left shocked when Prunella recited Robert Browning’s 19th century poem, A Toccata Of Galuppi’s, from her memory just a few weeks ago.
He said to the website: ‘To my incredible surprise I discovered she knows it all off by heart.’
Sam is frustrated that Prunella is not being considered for audio-book or reading roles more often.
He confirmed that ‘my mother is all right, actually,’ and she remains in high spirits, despite her devastating diagnosis.
Sam added: ‘Her Alzheimer’s is a form that leaves her quite cheery which is entirely down to chance and I count us as being very lucky.
Return to acting? In an interview with The Daily Star on Sunday, her son, 54, revealed that his mother can ‘still read quite well’ and is still able to work
‘We are blessed that she is not angry as well as confused as many Alzheimer’s sufferers are.’
Sam still wrestles with the reality that his mother is battling an incurable disease and is left to grieve her gradual decline.
He added: ‘I find it extraordinarily difficult to mourn the loss of someone who is still with us but not really there any more. The mourning never stops.’
Prunella’s last role was in Channel 4 documentary series, Great Canal Journeys, where she appeared alongside her husband, Timothy Wes,t as they embarked on spectacular adventures across the canals in Great Britain and beyond.
Earlier this year, her husband of 57 years, 85, revealed that her condition forced them to quit the show in 2019 after five years of filming.
For support or more information on Alzheimer’s disease you can contact the Alzheimer’s Society support line: 0333 150 3456
Wow: Prunella’s last role was in Channel 4 series, Great Canal Journeys, where she appeared alongside her husband, Timothy West, as they embarked on spectacular canal adventures
WHAT IS ALZHEIMER’S?
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain, in which build-up of abnormal proteins causes nerve cells to die.
This disrupts the transmitters that carry messages, and causes the brain to shrink.
More than 5 million people suffer from the disease in the US, where it is the 6th leading cause of death, and more than 1 million Britons have it.
As brain cells die, the functions they provide are lost.
That includes memory, orientation and the ability to think and reason.
The progress of the disease is slow and gradual.
On average, patients live five to seven years after diagnosis, but some may live for ten to 15 years.
- Loss of short-term memory
- Behavioral changes
- Mood swings
- Difficulties dealing with money or making a phone call
- Severe memory loss, forgetting close family members, familiar objects or places
- Becoming anxious and frustrated over inability to make sense of the world, leading to aggressive behavior
- Eventually lose ability to walk
- May have problems eating
- The majority will eventually need 24-hour care
Source: Alzheimer’s Association