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 back in 1963.
On Tuesday morning’s episode of Loose Women, Timothy shed light on how he and Prunella made their marriage a success – and how they coped with their devastating dementia diagnosis.
The actor revealed that part of the success of their marriage is doing crossword puzzles together and writing hundreds of letters over the course of their relationship.
Sweet: Timothy West 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
Talking about how they met, he said: “Luckily it was a very bad play!” Nobody was really that interested in it.
“Pru and I had a lot of time off. We spent a lot of time doing crossword puzzles and writing letters to each other.
“This is something that has happened all of our lives.” We love writing letters about something that the other person may have missed or not fully understood.
“We made each other laugh and made each other figure things out.”
In a very romantic gesture, Timothy and the Fawlty Towers actress have kept all their letters to each other, with the Corrie actor admitting Pru has a “suitcase full” of them.
Prunella has had symptoms of vascular dementia for more than 20 years and was officially diagnosed ten years ago.
Timothy reported on his wife’s condition and continued, “She’s fine.” I’m afraid it’s a situation that very rarely gets better. “We just have to live with it.”
“She lives the same way we do – we talk about what’s going on.” It’s very similar to our normal lives.
“But we all have times when someone asks, ‘Oh, do you remember so-and-so?’ and think, ‘Who do you mean?’
Happy couple: Timothy and Prunella kissed 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 said during the interview: “We did everything right”
On the subject of pet names, Timothy said: “I just call her Pru!” And when asked if she had a nickname for him, he joked: “God knows!”
Prunella and Timothy have two sons together – the older one 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 pair first addressed her condition when Pru began struggling with her lyrics on stage 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 their disease had “taken a very long time”.
In a touching interview on BBC Breakfast last week to mark their 60th anniversary, Prunella told her husband: “Thank you for staying with me for so long.”
He replied: “Well, we did everything well,” before asking her: “It wasn’t really hard work, was it?”
She replied: “No! He is a person that I like, that I love and that I enjoy being with.”
Series: Her Great Canal Journeys series for Channel 4 – which opened up about Prunella’s dementia – won a few legions of new fans
Coping: Prunella and Timothy had to quit their Channel 4 TV show Great Canal Journeys in January 2020 due to their failing health
In the interview, the Paterson broadcaster also revealed that Prunella, who continues to live caringly in her family home, had a more hilarious response behind the camera.
In an article for BBC News, the journalist said: “The interview is over, the cameraman goes to Scales and asks if he can take the clip microphone from her.”
“Oh, good,” she says, a twinkle appearing in her eyes. “Now I can say…”’
He added: “And out of her mouth comes a four-letter word which is completely unsuitable for broadcast on BBC Breakfast.”
West recently published a book called “Pru and Me: The Amazing Marriage of Prunella Scales and Timothy West,” in which he discusses the couple’s decades-long marriage and how they coped as Prunella’s disease progressed.
In September, West, who shares a home in Wandsworth with his wife, admitted he was missing the “companionship” of his “best friend” as her battle with dementia continued.
The actor, who appeared in EastEnders and Coronation Street, says he can no longer talk to his wife about plays or concerts because she doesn’t remember.
The 89-year-old admitted that he longs for her “creative energy” and the brilliant ideas she had and the parties she would like to go to with people she has met.
Prunella, best known for her role as 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 in times of confusion: “She’s not very time conscious and when she comes to me her face lights up like we’ve been apart for days.” Her expression makes me recognize ‘How much I love her.’
He added: “She seems to be coping incredibly well with things, just as I’m trying to, but she certainly has to wonder sometimes if she can end her days in this home that we hold so dear.”
“Not recognizing me wasn’t a problem, but it will come, I’m sure.”
Timothy, who says he first noticed changes in his wife in 2001, says the illness is now “part of their lives” as they adapt to her needs.
Prunella ended her 67-year acting career in early 2020.