David Baddiel reveals difficulties of 'stark choice' with father's dementia

Comedian David Baddiel has spoken of the difficulties people face when talking about their parents’ illnesses in a Sunday Times article about his father’s dementia.

His father Colin is housebound and receives 24-hour care. Baddiel said relatives are often left with a “stark choice” – either to admit on the patient’s behalf that they are ill, or “silence”.

Writing in the Sunday Times magazine, Baddiel said dementia, unlike other illnesses, does not give sufferers the option to keep a diagnosis private.

David Baddiel attending the premiere of new film The Inbetweeners 2 at the Vue Cinema in London.

Baddiel has previously spoken of his fears of developing dementia (Ian West/PA)


He wrote: “It’s a complicated admission to make for a thousand reasons. Not least because every time you tell someone that your parent has dementia, you are aware that you are doing so without their permission. The decision to reveal or not to reveal that you are ill, is, with most illnesses, a personal choice.”

He added: “With dementia, past a certain point, that decision is not makeable by the person with the disease. So that leaves the relatives with a stark choice: either talk about it, with an uncomfortable sense that the person you’re talking about may prefer this not to be known about them – or, silence.”

Baddiel, who said he prefers to deal with difficult subjects by speaking about them, is set to perform a stand-up show later this year that will cover issues including his father’s ill health.

Frank Skinner (left) and David Baddiel.

Baddiel was best known for his work with Frank Skinner (Sean Dempsey/PA)


The comedian, who is probably best known for his work with fellow comedian Frank Skinner, joked that the condition is not too dissimilar to his father’s personality before the diagnosis.

He said: “He, his profound he-ness, is now unrestricted, exploded, all over the place. In my mind, he does not have Pick’s disease, he has Colin Baddiel’s disease.”

Pick’s disease is a type of dementia that can see sufferers become sexually disinhibited and prone to swearing and rude behaviour.

David Baddiel, Dolly Loveday Baddiel, Ezra Beckett Baddiel, Morwenna Banks

David Baddiel and his children Dolly and Ezra, with Morwenna Banks (Clint Spaulding/PMC/AP)


Baddiel, a father-of-two, has previously told of his own fears that he could be developing dementia himself, describing how he sometimes forgets names.

The 51-year-old’s show, My Family: Not The Sitcom, will explore the issue of dementia, which is estimated to affect more than 800,000 people across the UK, as well as subjects including death and ageing.

Baddiel, whose mother died in 2014, described the show as a tribute to his parents.

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