The late Lynda Bellingham was yesterday seen poignantly describing the details of the Christmas she would never see during her final television interview.
The actress had hoped for one more festive season after choosing to end chemotherapy treatment for her cancer, but died at the weekend – just days after she had made her decision public. She was 66.
In the interview for Loose Women – the ITV show on which she was a panellist for several 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 husband Michael Pattemore after the cancer spread from her colon. She recorded her last interview earlier this month and said she was “obsessed” with Christmas and was determined to see one more.
“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 Mr Pattemore. “We’re going to go to the hotel and have the meal, but we’re going home for pudding and presents – it’s exciting.”
An upset Nolan – who was on yesterday’s live panel – had to leave while they showed Bellingham talking about Christmas.
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 [dying] and people would trust [me].
“Trust is a huge thing. Not just as an actor, not just as a lover, not just as a wife, that trust thing. Just to say you could trust her. As you know, I wanted to win an Oscar at 75 for best newcomer. Sadly, that’s gone out of the window.”
Talking about her memoir There’s Something I’ve Been Dying to Tell You, released less than a fortnight ago, Bellingham said: “This book is for everyone. You do feel alone – and it’s [her diagnosis] 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 acting work following her diagnosis, and talked about how she was looking forward to filming a TV role in BBC1 drama 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.”
Nolan wept at the end of the interview but Bellingham said: “Don’t cry. It’s going to be fine, it will be fine – don’t worry.”