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Sunday 20 August 2017

Tears as Lynda tells of plan for last Christmas she would never see

The late Lynda Bellingham was today seen poignantly describing the details of the Christmas she would never see during her final TV interview.

The actress had hoped for one more festive season after choosing to end treatment for her cancer, but died at the weekend just weeks after she had made her decision public.

In the interview for Loose Women - a show on which she had been a regular panellist for a number of years - she assured her friends and colleagues all would be "fine" and said she longed to be remembered for her honesty.

Bellingham died in the arms of her husband Michael Pattemore at the age of 66 after the cancer spread from her colon to other parts of her body. She recorded her last interview earlier this month and told how she was "obsessed" with Christmas and was determined to see one more.

INSISTED

"Bloody right I am! I am. I AM," she insisted, during the interview with Janet Street Porter and Coleen Nolan in front of a studio audience which included Pattemore.

"We're going to go to the hotel and have the meal but just my little bit of control - we're going home for pudding and presents, it's exciting.

"My only problem is getting the presents - my sister Jean has been absolutely amazing and I keep sending him [Michael] out for bizarre things."

Bellingham told of her desire for a real Christmas tree, although her husband was not a fan.

"He's spent years trying to put me off a real tree and we're very lucky as we live in a converted psychiatric hospital which has got a really tall ceiling. All I've ever wanted is a real tree.

"'No don't make me sweep up the pine needles, oh my goodness'," she joked, mimicking Pattemore.

"Hey, I'm getting one, I'm getting a real tree. He'll just have to struggle out of the window with it afterwards, that's fine."

Nolan, who was on today's live panel, had to leave while they showed Bellingham talking about Christmas because she was so upset.

Bellingham was given a standing ovation as she entered the studio and went on to say how she wished to be remembered: "Just as an honest person. Honesty. We've been through this as Loose Women - you can't do Loose Women unless you're honest. You can't hide anything, it really is honest when we answer questions. That's why I felt I could write about it and people would trust."

MEMOIR

Talking about her memoir There's Something I've Been Dying To Tell You, which was released less than a fortnight ago, Bellingham said: "This book is for everyone, if one person who feels on their own - you do feel alone - and it's very hard to take on board, obviously it's taken us a year to absorb it. But once you do, instead of worrying about dying, you must enjoy the bits in between."

She explained it had been difficult to adjust to scaling back her acting work following her diagnosis, and talked about how she was looking forward to filming a role in BBC1's The Syndicate next month.

"Work stopped and that was really hard - 45 years I've worked and it was all whipped away from me, especially the play A Passionate Woman, which was going to be my moment to shine, but Kay Mellor has written me a scene in The Syndicate which goes out next year, so I'm going to swan in and do a day, which is probably all I can manage. I am so chuffed."

Reflecting on the past year, she said: "You learn so much and the biggest thing - as you know I'm not very confrontational, I'm a bit of a weed, of course I've become a bit grumpy - it's amazing to be able to say things to people. It's taken me 66 years to find any dignity."

Nolan cried at the end of the interview, but Bellingham consoled her, saying: "Don't cry. It will be fine - don't worry."

hnews@herald.ie

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