Watch: The Bill's Chris Ellison appears on live TV to discuss aphasia diagnosis
The 75-year-old actor — famous for playing corrupt policeman DCI Burnside in the ITV cop show between 1984 and 1993 — suffered a stroke in 2020 and as a result developed the brain condition which affects his speech.
Anita told Good Morning Britain: "I’ve been in a kind of mourning really. It’s taken a long time to come to terms with it, I have cried so much. I now feel a great sense of relief."
She added: "Mainly it’s been so lonely because Chris wouldn’t go out. He felt really embarrassed. He just grabbed my arm because he knew he couldn’t speak. He didn’t want people to see him like that. We’ve kind of been like hermits really. He’s the same intelligent man inside and he still deserves respect. It’s like coming out."
Ellison — who took part in Celebrity Big Brother in 2015 — decided to go public with the condition after Hollywood star Bruce Willis, 67, recently announced he had been diagnosed with aphasia and was retiring from acting.
GMB presenter Richard Madeley asked Ellison — who can understand everything said to him but struggles with words — if it had been a relief to go public with his diagnosis.
Ellison struggled: "Well, I don’t know...maybe..."
Anita added: "If you don't mind me answering for you — for me, I’ve seen a great change in Chris. He was immediately lifted because I explained what was going on.
"At first, he didn’t want to go on TV or anyone to know. People still remember Chris when we go out. Now, hopefully people will understand.
"I wanted people to understand what aphasia is. When you can get it out there and educate people…
"I'd say to people, 'Just be patient.' I will always be there to answer for him. I just say, 'Chris can understand you, he just can’t answer back.'"