Coronation Street legend Julie Goodyear has had a "heart-breaking diagnosis" of dementia, her husband has announced.

The 81-year-old actress is best known for her long-running role in Weatherfield as Rovers Return barmaid Bet Lynch.

In a statement released on Wednesday, her husband Scott Brand said: "My darling wife and I have had to come to terms with this heart-breaking diagnosis.

"Unfortunately, Julie has been suffering forgetfulness for some time and we have been seeking medical advice and assistance, but we now know that there is no hope of a reversal in the situation – and that her condition will get progressively, and perhaps speedily, worse.

Julie Goodyear as a 22-year-old

"We have taken the decision to publicly announce the diagnosis as Julie still loves visiting friends and eating out.

"Inevitably she is recognised, and fans love to meet her – and she them – but she can get confused particularly if she is tired. I hope people will understand."

The former Celebrity Big Brother housemate remains a patron of Willow Wood Hospice in Greater Manchester.

Goodyear, who was a staple on Coronation Street for more than 20 years, left Weatherfield in 1995 and subsequently made brief appearances on the soap.

She has also been a feature of reality TV with appearances on Celebrity Fit Club, Come Dine With Me and a celebrity special of Stars In Their Eyes.

Source: Press Association