Chris Ellison, who played DCI Frank Burnside in The Bill, has lost the ability to speak since suffering a stroke 18 months ago, his wife has revealed.
The actor, 75, was diagnosed with aphasia – the same degenerative brain disorder that film legend Bruce Willis was revealed to suffer from this week – after suffering a stroke in 2020.
Aphasia is a potentially devastating condition that affects one’s ability to understand language.
The TV star’s wife Anita, 69, told The Sun on Sunday: ‘It’s awful we’ve been so alone. Chris is trapped in his body. He understands everything that is happening around him but cannot speak, read or write.
“He hasn’t uttered meaning in 18 months. Sometimes I feel like I’ve lost my charismatic, very funny and caring husband.
Chris Ellison, who played DCI Frank Burnside in The Bill, has lost the ability to speak since suffering a stroke 18 months ago, his wife Anita has revealed. (The couple are pictured in 2018)
Chris played the volatile Burnside for 15 years on The Bill (above) and proved so popular it got a spin-off in 2000
“It’s frustrating for both of us, but when he looks me in the eye, I see he’s still in there. I cried buckets.
Chris played the volatile Burnside for 15 years on The Bill and proved so popular it got a spin-off in 2000.
Titled Burnside, it saw him work for the National Crime Squad. It only lasted one season and aired six episodes.
He then appeared in EastEnders, an audio piece for Doctor Who, as a contestant on Useless Celebrities and ended up on Celebrity Big Brother in 2015 alongside Janice Dickinson, Jenna Jameson and Daniel Baldwin.
Chris suffered a stroke at his home in Brighton and was found by Anita on the bedroom floor.
His aphasia was only known to a few friends and family, but he was inspired to share it with the rest of the world after the 67-year-old Die Hard actor was diagnosed.
Willis, who has starred in dozens of action films, will now retire after being diagnosed with the disease which has hampered his “cognitive abilities”, his family said on Wednesday.
The actor (above in The Bill), 75, has been diagnosed with aphasia – the same degenerative brain disorder that film legend Bruce Willis was revealed to suffer from this week – after suffering a stroke brain in 2020
He shot to fame on the 1980s comedy-drama TV series Moonlighting and appeared in around 100 films over his four-decade career, gaining acclaim for his roles in Pulp Fiction and The Sixth Sense, and winning a Golden Globe Award. and two Emmys. .
But Willis is perhaps best known for playing the tough New York cop who chased bad guys in all five Die Hard movies, released from 1988 to 2013.
“This is a truly difficult time for our family and we very much appreciate your continued love, compassion and support,” his family said in a statement.
Willis and actress Demi Moore were one of Hollywood’s hottest celebrity couples in the 1990s until their divorce in 2000, but they remained close after the split.
He is currently married to model and actress Emma Heming and has a total of five children with both women.
“We are going through this as a strong family unit and we wanted to bring in his fans because we know how much he means to you, as you do to him,” said the statement, which was signed by the family. from the actor and shared on Instagram by Demi Moore and their daughter Rumer.
Aphasia is a disorder most commonly caused by stroke that can also stem from head trauma or, in rare cases, neurological disease, said Brenda Rapp, professor of cognitive science at the University. Johns Hopkins.
Symptoms vary widely and can affect speech, comprehension and reading ability, Rapp said in a phone interview. In some cases, aphasia can be treated with speech therapy.
Aphasia: the brain condition that can make a person unable to communicate
Aphasia can manifest in multiple ways and is often the result of head trauma, stroke, tumor, or other brain damage.
It can also be devastating, with experts saying it causes depression in more than a third of cases, can lead to personality changes and can even alienate the affected person’s friends and family.
The cause of the disease, which is often some sort of traumatic brain injury or stroke, can lead to massive personality changes.
‘[Aphasia is] difficulty with language that comes from some sort of brain injury. The most common source is stroke…but it can come from any other type of damage,’ Dr Brenda Rapp, a cognitive scientist at Johns Hopkins University, told DailyMail.com.
The condition can make it very difficult for an actor – like Bruce Willis (above, in 2019) or Chris Ellison – to pursue their career, as just talking about the lines can become a challenge.
Certain infections that affect the language centers of the brain can also cause the formation of aphasia, as well as cognitive decline and deterioration associated with dementia.
The condition can make it very difficult for an actor – like Bruce Willis or Chris Ellison – to pursue their career, as even speaking the lines can become a challenge.
There are four common types of aphasia which make up the vast majority of cases: fluent – often referred to as Wernicke; non-fluid – known as Broca; anomic; and Primary Progressive Aphasia.
Rapp explained that there are different forms of the condition as each represents a different type of breakdown in the communication process.
Whether it is the ability to translate thoughts into appropriate words, the ability to physically say words, or the ability to interpret and understand the speech of others, every part of communication is a complex process, and even mild brain damage can cause problems.
Although the condition causes communication failures, Rapp notes that the person themselves is still the same.
Their thoughts, beliefs and feelings towards their loved ones remain, although it can be frustrating and alienating for the aphasic patient and those around them to deal with this condition.
According to the Stroke Association, a UK-based group, those with Wernicke’s aphasia have the ability to string together long phrases of words, but will often say things in a way that doesn’t make sense. , or even use invented words.
They will also suffer from reading and writing impairments and may find it difficult to understand clear verbal communication to them.