Ronnie Corbett's heartbroken wife has revealed the star was battling motor neurone disease for over a year before his death. The TV star passed away on Thursday at the age of 85, surrounded by his family – this year would have marked his golden wedding anniversary with Anne.
His illness became apparent in Christmas 2014, when Anne said "he started to feel unwell and found it hard to breathe and lie down". The couple visited a number of specialists before he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London.
Ronnie's wife Anne has revealed the star was battling motor neurone disease
Motor Neuron Disease (or ALS) damages parts of the nervous system, meaning that breathing and other muscle activities can become increasingly difficult.
"As you can imagine, it just knocked us both back," Anne told the Daily Mail. "We had not really heard of it.
"If it hadn't been for Stephen Hawking and the Eddie Redmayne film about him we would not have heard of it at all."
Ronnie after receiving his OBE in 1978, with Anne and their two daughters
Following his diagnosis, Ronnie started to use a small ventilator machine to aid his breathing, which Anne said "transformed things" for the comedian. But, in the end, caring for Ronnie "became a 24-hour job", she added.
Anne took it in turns with the couple’s two daughters Emma, 48, and Sophie, 47, to nurse the star.
"He was not in pain, and up to the last 48 hours, he was fully conscious and aware of everything," she added.
Following Ronnie's death, Anne paid a heartbreaking tribute to her "courageous" partner. "Ron wasn't just my husband, and the love of my love. He was also my best friend," she said.
"Throughout his whole illness, he never grumbled or complained. No one could have been more courageous."