EastEnders’ Tanya Franks running London marathon for ailing Barbara Windsor

EastEnders ’ Tanya Franks will run the London Marathon after being inspired by TWO people battling Alzheimer’s.

The 51-year-old actress has seen former co-star Dame Barbara Windsor tackle dementia with dignity and courage.

Closer to home, Tanya’s stepdad is showing similar resolve as he, too, faces the same issues.

Tanya, who plays Rainie Cross in the BBC1 soap, said: “I have a family member who has Alzheimer’s. We’re dealing with that.

“My stepfather will be in my sights, so will Barbara.

“It’s a severely underfunded disease. We don’t know enough about it. The awareness has leapt this year and that’s got a lot to do with Barbara.”

Scott Mitchell, 56 – hubby of TV’s much-loved Barbara, 81 – is also running the marathon.

And he and Tanya will be joined by a right collection of Cockneys in the form of EastEnders stars Adam Woodyatt, Jake Wood, Emma Barton, Natalie Cassidy, Kellie Shirley, Jamie Borthwick and Jane Slaughter.

Training for the event has kept Tanya occupied while not playing TV’s Rainie. She and her character could barely be more different. Rainie is a former druggie and Tanya is teetotal and enjoys a quiet life with her partner James Barriscale in Kent.

Her powerful performances as Rainie have touched families who have been ravaged by addiction.

“Somebody recently came up to me in the street and said a family member of theirs had been going through a similar situation,” she told.

“As a family they’ve clocked into Rainie and over the years she’s been a formative character for them. Particularly when she was going through the crack addiction. Their family member was going through the same thing and they would watch Rainie. We have a social responsibility to tell the stories.”

Tanya first set foot in Albert Square more than 10 years ago and loves every minute.

The London-born star – who was seen last week at the West End version of Only Fools And Horses – had a special word to say about another EastEnders veteran, 92-year-old June Brown, who plays Dot Cotton.

Tanya said: “June is wonderful. She’s still playing that iconic character. She comes on set with all the same ethics she’s ever had. Her integrity towards the work is absolutely paramount. She’s an inspiration to me and it’s an honour to work with her.”

And Tanya also heaped praise on another inspirational actress – Olivia Colman, 44, who played Queen Anne in The Favourite and is up for the best actress award at tonight’s Oscars.

The pair starred in Broadchurch together.

Tanya said: “I watched the film (The Favourite) when I was in LA. She’s amazing in it. I was mesmerised by her. I sent her a message straight after.

“She’s not a showbiz person. She’s down to earth and fantastic at her job. It’s fantastic she’s being recognised. It’s encouraging as it reminds you it’s possible and that dreams do come true.”

But Tanya doesn’t have any visions of Hollywood stardom herself. She added: “Rainie challenges me right across the gamut. There’s drama and comedy. I’m learning from her. If Rainie keeps challenging me like this I’m happy to stay.”

To support the ‘Barbara’s Revolutionairies’ Alzheimer’s London Marathon team, click here .

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