Timothy West has revealed the surprising secret to the success of his 60-year marriage to Prunella Scales.
The EastEnders actor, 89, met Prunella, 91, while working on a play together.
Last month the couple celebrated their Diamond wedding anniversary after tying the knot all the way back in 1963.
Speaking on Tuesday morning’s episode of Loose Women, Timothy shed light on how he and Prunella have made their marriage go the distance – and how they have coped with her devastating dementia diagnosis.
The actor revealed that part of their marriage’s success is doing crosswords together and writing hundreds of letters over the course of their relationship.
Sweet: Timothy West has revealed the surprising secret to the success of his 60-year marriage to Prunella Scales on Tuesday morning’s Loose Women
Long-lasting: Timothy, 89, and Fawlty Towers actress Prunella, 91, celebrated their 60th anniversary last month
Speaking of how they met, he said: ‘Fortunately it was a very bad play! Nobody was really very interested in doing it.
‘Pru and I had a lot of time off. We spent a lot of time doing the crossword and writing letters to each other.
‘This is something that has gone on all our lives. We love writing letters about something that the other might have missed or not quite understood.
‘We would make each other laugh and make each other find out about things.’
In a very romantic gesture, Timothy and the Fawlty Towers actress have kept all their letters to each other, with the Corrie actor admitting that Pru has ‘trunks full’ of them.
Prunella has exhibited symptoms of vascular dementia for more than 20 years and received a formal diagnosis ten years ago.
Giving an update on his wife’s condition, Timothy continued: ‘She’s doing ok. It is a situation which I’m afraid very rarely does get any better. We’re just going to have to live with it.’
‘She lives as we do – we talk about what’s going on at the moment. It’s very like our normal lives.
‘But we all have times when someone goes “oh do you remember so and so?” and think “who do you mean?”‘.
Happy couple: Timothy and Prunella shared a kiss in an interview to mark their wedding anniversary on BBC Breakfast
Back then: The couple pictured with one of their two sons in the first decade of their marriage; West reflected during the interview ‘we’ve done all right’
On the topic of pet names, Timothy said: ‘I just call her Pru!’ And when asked if she has a nickname for him, he joked: ‘God knows!’
Prunella and Timothy share two sons – the elder is actor and director Samuel West and they also have a younger son, Joseph.
Timothy also has a daughter, Juliet, from his first marriage to Jacqueline Boyer.
The couple first addressed her condition when Pru began struggling with her lines onstage in the early noughties.
But it wasn’t until ten years later that they received a formal diagnosis, with Timothy explaining that the progression of her illness has ‘taken a very long time’.
In a touching interview on BBC Breakfast last week to mark their 60th anniversary, Prunella said to her husband: ‘Thanks for sticking with me for so long.’
He responded: ‘Well, we’ve done all right’ before asking her ‘It hasn’t really been hard work, has it?’
She replied: ‘No! He’s a person I like, I love, I enjoy being with.’
Series: Their Great Canal Journeys series for Channel 4 – which was candid about Prunella’s dementia – won the couple legions of new fans
Coping: Prunella and Timothy were forced to quit their Channel 4 TV show, Great Canal Journeys due to her ailing health in January 2020
The interview also saw broadcaster Paterson reveal that Prunella, who continues to live at her family home with care, had a more hilarious answer off camera.
In an article for BBC News, the journalist said: ‘Interview over, the cameraman goes over to Scales and asks if he can take the clip microphone off her.
‘”Oh good,” she goes, a twinkle appearing in her eye. “Now I can say…”‘
He added: ‘And out of her mouth comes a four-letter word completely unsuitable for broadcast on BBC Breakfast.’
West published a book recently, Pru and Me: The Amazing Marriage of Prunella Scales and Timothy West, discussing the couple’s decades of marriage and how they’ve coped with the progression of Prunella’s illness.
In September, West, who shares a home in Wandsworth with his wife, admitted he misses the ‘companionship’ of his ‘best friend’ as her dementia battle continues.
The actor, who appeared in EastEnders and Coronation Street, says he can no longer discuss plays or concerts with his wife because she doesn’t remember.
The 89-year-old admitted he longs for her ‘creative energy’ and the brilliant ideas she had and parties she would love to go to with people she had newly met.
Prunella, best known for playing Sybil Fawlty (pictured) in Fawlty Towers, ended her 67-year acting career in early 2020
West says he spends a lot of time reassuring her during periods of confusion: ‘She doesn’t have much awareness of time so when she joins me, her face lights up as if we’ve been apart for days. The look on her face makes me realise how much I love her.’
He added: ‘She seems to manage incredibly well with things, as I try to, but surely she must sometimes wonder whether she is going to be allowed to end her days in this house that has been so dear to us.
‘Not recognising me hasn’t been a problem but it will come, I’m sure.’
Timothy, who says he first noticed changes in his wife in 2001, says that the condition is now ‘part of their lives’ as they adapt to accommodate her needs.
Prunella ended her 67-year acting career in early 2020.