Barbara Windsor dead at 83: EastEnders and Carry On legend dies after brave dementia battle

DAME Barbara Windsor, best known for her roles in EastEnders and the iconic Carry On films, has died aged 83.

The much-loved star found fame playing a buxom blonde in the bawdy comedies and later became a TV favourite as Peggy Mitchell in the hit BBC soap.

BBC

Barbara Windsor played Peggy Mitchell in the BBC soap EastEnders[/caption]

Rex Features

She became a huge star in the iconic Carry On films alongside Sid James[/caption]

PA:Press Association

The TV star – seen here with the Queen in 2001 – was proud of her working class roots[/caption]

Alamy

One of Dame Barbara’s most famous scenes was in 1969’s Carry On Camping[/caption]

Dame Barbara was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014 and made the news public in 2018.

She died “peacefully” at 8.35pm on Thursday night at a London care home with her husband Scott Mitchell by her side.

In a moving tribute, he called her his “precious Bar” and said: “I’ve lost my wife, my best friend and soul mate.”

He said the cherished actress’s final weeks were “typical of how she lived her life” and “full of humour, drama and a fighting spirit until the end”.



Mr Mitchell told PA: “Her passing was from Alzheimer’s/dementia and Barbara eventually died peacefully and I spent the last seven days by her side.

“Myself, her family and friends will remember Barbara with love, a smile and affection for the many years of her love, fun, friendship and brightness she brought to all our lives and the entertainment she gave to so many thousands of others during her career.

“Barbara’s final weeks were typical of how she lived her life. Full of humour, drama and a fighting spirit until the end.

“It was not the ending that Barbara or anyone else living with this very cruel disease deserve.

Rex Features

She died on Thursday at a care home, revealed husband Scott Mitchell[/caption]

PA:Press Association

Barbara was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014[/caption]

PA:Press Association

She was always one of the most recognisable faces on TV[/caption]

BBC

Seen here on the set of the hit BBC soap with her on-screen sons Grant and Phil[/caption]

Buxom Barbara was one of TV’s earliest sex symbols

“I will always be immensely proud of Barbara’s courage, dignity and generosity dealing with her own illness and still trying to help others by raising awareness for as long as she could.”

Mr Mitchell, who alongside his wife campaigned for greater dementia care from the Government, added: “Dementia/Alzheimer’s remains the UKs number one killer.

“Although in challenging times, I urge the Prime Minister, his government and other parties to be true to their previous promises and invest more into dementia/Alzheimer’s research and care.

“Thank you to all the doctors, nurses and carers who are angels at the care home for your kindness and care to Barbara and I throughout her stay with you. You are my heroes.

“And my gratitude to our family, friends and everyone in the media and the general public for all the good wishes and warm support that has been shown to Barbara over the last few years during her illness. Barbara deeply appreciated that.”

At the end of his moving tribute, Mr Mitchell said: “May you rest in peace now my precious Bar. I’ve lost my wife, my best friend and soul mate and my heart or life will never feel the same without you.”

Danniella Westbrook, 47, who played Peggy’s daughter Sam, wrote on Twitter: “Today we lost a legend a national treasure and a woman who I looked up to for most of my life.

“A generous, warm, funny humble and beautiful lady and someone who gave us all much joy watching her act.

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Barbara at the world premiere of Alice in Wonderland in 2010[/caption]

PA:Press Association

Babs getting a cheeky peck from PM Boris Johnson in 2019[/caption]

Popperfoto

Seen here with notorious gangster Reggie Kray in the 1960s[/caption]

Alpha Press

The actress was made a dame in the 2016 New Year’s Honours list for her services to charity and entertainment[/caption]

News Group Newspapers Ltd

She had earlier been honoured with an MBE[/caption]

“A woman who I was lucky enough to work with for many years as my mum and a loyal friend. The brightest of all stars will now shine above us instead of among us.”

Comedian David Baddiel paid tribute on Twitter, saying: “RIP the very lovely, very funny Barbara Windsor. What a genuine national treasure she was.”

TV presenter Jonathan Ross tweeted: “Barbara Windsor in real life was everything you might have hoped for. So warm, so funny, so kind. Goodnight sweetheart x #BarbaraWindsor”.

Dame Barbara made her debut as Peggy in EastEnders in 1994 and soon became one of the small screen’s best-loved characters as she yelled at rogue drinkers to “get outta my pub!”.

It became the defining role of her career and saw her star alongside Ross Kemp and Steve McFadden as her fictional sons Grant and Phil, with the late Mike Reid as her on-screen husband Frank Butcher.

The character left our screens in 2003 when Dame Barbara took a sabbatical for medical reasons after being diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr virus, but she returned as a series regular in 2005.

PA:Press Association

Barbara was born in Shoreditch, London, in 1937[/caption]

PA:Press Association

Barbara was one of Britain’s favourite entertainers over seven decades[/caption]

News Group Newspapers Ltd

Seen here with fellow Carry On star Kenneth Williams[/caption]

Getty – Pool

The star campaigned for greater dementia care from the Government[/caption]

Barbara pictured with her friend rock star Elton John

In 2009, Dame Barbara announced she would be leaving the soap again in order to spend more time with her husband Scott, who she married in 2000.

She returned for cameo appearances in the soap over the next few years but in 2016 she played Peggy for the final time.

Her final scenes aired in May that year as the Walford stalwart took her own life after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Before becoming synonymous with Albert Square, Dame Barbara delighted Carry On fans with her portrayals of a “good time girl,” appearing in nine films in a series known for its bawdy humour.

The actress was made a dame in the 2016 New Year’s Honours list for her services to charity and entertainment.

Both Dame Barbara and her husband campaigned to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s following her diagnosis.

BBC

Seen here with her on-screen soap rival Pat Butcher[/caption]

Barbara being held aloft during a celebrity fashion show in 1999
Pictured as a rising star in the 1960s
PA:Press Association

Babs at a Jubilee lunch at Buckingham Palace in 2012[/caption]

In August this year Mitchell revealed his wife had been moved to a care home in the capital.

Dame Barbara was born Barbara Anne Deeks in Shoreditch, in 1937 to a fruit and veg cart seller and a dressmaker.

As a child she was bright and sat her 11-plus exam a year early and proudly boasted she got the “highest mark in North London.”

She trained at the Aida Foster School in Golders Green before making her stage debut in a pantomine at the age of 13.

In 1953, inspired by the Queen’s Coronation, she adopted the stage-name Windsor.

She later received a BAFTA Award nomination for Sparrows Can’t Sing in 1963 and a Tony award nomination for 1964’s Oh, What A Lovely War!.

She first appeared in Carry On Spying in 1964, with her final film role coming in 1974’s Carry On Dick.

One of Dame Barbara’s most famous scenes was in 1969’s Carry On Camping, when her bikini top flew off in the middle of an exercise class. 

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