Pioneering TV detective Jill Gascoine who starred in The Gentle Touch is in the final stages of Alzheimer's, reveals her heartbroken husband 

Actress Jill Gascoine is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's, her husband revealed last night.

Miss Gascoine, 79, rose to fame as Detective Inspector Maggie Forbes in the ITV series, The Gentle Touch.

Her husband, actor Alfred Molina, said: 'Every Alzheimer's case is unique unto itself – the only thing that unites them all is the outcome is always the same. Ultimately, you end up on the same path.'

Actor Alfred Molin, has revealed his wife Jill Gascoine is in the latter stages of Alzheimer's

Jill Gascoine rose to fame as Detective Inspector Maggie Forbes in The Gentle Touch, pictured

Gascoine played a recurring role in the hugely popular 1970s drama The Onedin Line, but she became a household name after playing Forbes in the ITV drama which ran from 1980 to 1984. At its height, The Gentle Touch was regularly watched by 18 million viewers.

Gascoine's character was left to bring up her teenage son alone as well as manage her hectic career after the murder of her husband in the show's first episode.

She later went on to appear in the spin-off series, C.A.T.S Eyes, before building a career in America.

Molina added: 'It's not like cancer or an illness that announces itself. With cancer you've got a fighting chance, you can gather your resources and focus on it and, with luck, you can conquer it.

'Alzheimer's is a cowardly disease. It creeps up on you from behind and by the time you realise you've got it you're probably not realising much else. It's a stinker.'

Molina, who has appeared in films such as The Da Vinci Code and Raiders of the Lost Ark, said his wife's prognosis was 'bleak' and that she was in latter stages of the disease'.

Gascoine became a household name after playing Forbes in the ITV drama which ran from 1980 to 1984, pictured

Speaking about the devastation of his wife's late diagnosis, he compared her fight to that of author Sir Terry Pratchett, who died last year.

Molina, who is 16 years younger than his wife, told Radio Times: 'Not everyone can approach Alzheimer's with the bravery that Terry Pratchett showed.'

He added: 'I'm scared of a lot of things. Every time I can't find my wallet, every time I forget where I left my car keys, I'm thinking, 'Oh, Jesus.' I have to remind myself there's a difference between not remembering where you put your car keys and, when you find them, not knowing what they're for.

'I've seen that happen at close range – I know the difference.'

Molina, who lives with his wife in Los Angeles, also expressed his frustration at the lack of progression in finding a cure for the disease, or even enough research to help doctors to identify the illness while it was still in its early stages. 

He said: 'That's why so much of the research that went into curing it became pointless. Millions and millions of dollars and pounds going into this pit and we were getting nowhere.

'Whereas now, with more knowledge and understanding, you can, at least, start to prepare yourself.'

It is thought 850,000 people in Britain are suffering from the disease, with the figure expected to rise to two million by 2051.

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