Danniella Westbrook is "devastated" over Barbara Windsor's Alzheimer's Disease diagnosis.

Danniella Westbrook

Danniella Westbrook

The 44-year-old actress - who played the soap legend's 'EastEnders' screen daughter Sam Mitchell - was distraught to read about her old friend's diagnosis but is thankful that the symptoms of the degenerative brain condition mean Barbara is not in as much pain as she could have been with other terminal diseases.

She said: "This is a devastating illness but I'd rather that than the pain of cancer because at least she doesn't know.

"So in a way it's quite a nice place to be."

Danniella admitted Barbara had always been an inspiration to her "on and off" screen and revealed she'd sent a card to the 'Carry On' star and her husband Scott Mitchell, 55, in the wake of them going public about the 80-year-old star's condition.

She told The Sun newspaper: "Barbara is the button of life and remembers everybody. She has taught me so much.

"Me and Barbara are so similar, we both love a toyboy."

Meanwhile, Danniella - who has children Kai, 21, and Jody, 16, from previous relationships - is determined to put her own problems behind he and get her career back on track, and she'd jump at the chance of another return to 'EastEnders' as Sam, a role she first played in 1990 and has reprised on numerous occasions since then.

Trying on a cream jumpsuit, she said: "This is so Sam. I love that character -- she's a cow but she's great.

"I'd love to get the chance to play her again and would love to do 'Strictly Come Dancing'. But they haven't asked me yet."

And the actress has been working hard on getting back to full fitness.

She said: "I'm doing 250 sit-ups in one session, and can hold a plank for eight minutes. I'm a size eight and I'm feeling amazing."