The family of Jane Rossington have announced she has Alzheimer’s in a radio interview.
Jane is best known to television viewers for her role as Jill in Crossroads, where she played the on-screen daughter of Noele Gordon’s Meg Richardson. Jane starred in the soap from its first episode in 1964 through to its very last in 1988.
She reprised the role once more for a new version of the saga in 2001. Other roles include a cameo as Jill in Channel 4’s gritty Brookside and longer running parts in ITV medical drama Emergency Ward 10 and radio soap The Archers.
Jane also has supported for decades the Crossroads Care charity, which ATV, ITV and the programme founded in the early 1970s to give carers breaks from their daily routines and since 1987 has been the patron of the official Central and Peter Ling/Hazel Adair endorsed fan club for the soap. Until recently she was also still working in several major theatre productions and making guest appearances on shows such as This Morning, The Paul O’Grady Show and Blankety Blank.
Jane’s husband David Dunger spoke about Jane’s life with dementia in a radio interview with his presenter brother Rob, on Felixstowe Radio earlier today.
“It started about six years ago… We used to go a week’s skiing holiday every year. And we were somewhere in the Alps and it was lovely. And she went down in the lift early and I said ‘I’ll meet you at such-and-such a restaurant and if you’re first I’d like a large beer please, and if I’m there first I’ll get you a glass of wine’. Well, that was the first time I noticed she really lost it. She went down the mountain, she didn’t go back to the hotel she didn’t turn up at the restaurant… she was completely lost and befuddled.
“Then little thing started to happen, she came more and more distracted. Her memory went, she became less [physically] able. And it was so distressing to see it happen. There’s little periods where there’s a degree of stability and then, like over the last two weeks, there’s noticeable deterioration.” – David Dunger
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behaviour. Symptoms eventually grow severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. Fellow Crossroads star John Bentley – who played Meg’s husband Hugh Mortimer – also was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. John passed away in 2009.
Dementia has been highlighted in recent years by Dame Barbara Windsor, who died in 2020. EastEnders legend Barbara, with her husband Scott Mitchell, promoted the work of the Alzheimer’s Society following her diagnosis in 2014
“It’s rather sad in a way …next week on the 16th of June is our 50th wedding anniversary and …when you’re married to somebody who has dementia the one thing you really miss is conversation. You can talk to the person and they’ll say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and they’ll understand… but you can’t have a conversation.” – David Dunger
Jane is to be portrayed by Antonia Bernath in the forthcoming ITV drama about Noele Gordon, Nolly. Helena Bonham Carter will star as Noele in the Russell T Davies penned three part series.