EASTENDERS' Shane Richie has called Barbara Windsor's dementia battle the 'cruellest thing in the world' as he hears she'll forget who he is.

The actor, 55, enjoyed a three-year spell in the soap with the legendary actress, 82, and has remained good friends ever since.

He told the Mirror: “It has been horrible to see Babs’ decline.

“You hear horror stories about someone with Alzheimer’s where they don’t recognise their own loved ones. That has to be the cruellest thing in the world."

“Babs always recognises me when she sees me but then I don’t know what it would be like the following day.

It comes after another of Barabara's good pals, Christopher Biggins, revealed he finds it difficult to mask his heartbreak while watching her battle the disease.

The 70-year-old admits the former Carry On star often asks him a question "eight or nine time" as her symptoms become more pronounced.

Despite the apparent heartbreak, Biggins insists the former Eastenders star is still full of energy.

He told The Mirror: "When I’m with Barbara, I don’t have sadness or tears because she would see that and I don’t want her to. So I’m always upbeat with her.

“The last time I had lunch with her was three weeks ago.

“She looked wonderful, she had tremendous energy and we laughed a lot. But she asked me ‘what are you doing?’ eight or nine times because she’d forgotten my answer.

“It’s such an open, caring question and typical of her.

“Forgetting my answers each time was very sad. But I’d only show that sadness after I’d left her.”

The long-term friends, who met while touring the nation in musical Guys and Dolls, frequently meet up, with the 82-year-old actress' husband Scott Mitchell often reminding her of visitors.

He added: "I’m so lucky, because being such a strong character, she always knows who I am. Her husband Scott, who is the most amazing man ever, writes down people’s names and a little list of what they’ve done before they visit so she remembers."

Biggins' recent update comes months after he sadly revealed Barbara had forgotten she was famous following her Alzheimer's disease diagnosis.

The star was also worried the condition will rob her of precious memories of her glittering TV career.

He said: "You go out with her and people want to chat, get an autograph and have a selfie…

“The only problem is that in the future, and sometimes already I think, she won’t understand why.

"She may forget her whole glorious career, why she is so famous."

Barbara was recently treated for a minor heart condition caused by side-effects from her Alzheimer’s medication.

She was diagnosed with dementia in 2014, but she and hubby Scott only revealed the news last year.

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