Carry On legend Dame Barbara Windsor dies aged 83 after long battle with Alzheimer’s disease 

Beloved British actress Dame Barbara Windsor has died aged 83 after losing her battle with Alzheimer’s disease. 

The actress who became a national treasure for her iconic roles in BBC soap EastEnders and the Carry On films died at 8.35pm on Thursday at a London care home, her husband Scott Mitchell revealed.

The devoted husband confirmed that she died ‘peacefully’ following a six-year battle with dementia as he paid touching tribute to his ‘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’. 

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

One of Britain’s most beloved entertainment stars, she first found fame in her role as a buxom blonde in the Carry On films and later became a household name playing Peggy Mitchell, the Queen Vic’s battle-axe landlady in BBC soap EastEnders. 

Dame Barbara Windsor, best known for her roles in EastEnders and the Carry On films, has died aged 83, her husband Scott Mitchell (pictured together) said

Dame Barbara Windsor, best known for her roles in EastEnders and the Carry On films, has died aged 83, her husband Scott Mitchell (pictured together) said

Dame Barbara Windsor, best known for her roles in EastEnders and the Carry On films, has died aged 83, her husband Scott Mitchell (pictured together) said

One of Britain's most beloved entertainment stars, Dame Barbara (pictured) first found fame in her role as a buxom blonde in the Carry On films

One of Britain's most beloved entertainment stars, Dame Barbara (pictured) first found fame in her role as a buxom blonde in the Carry On films

She later became a household name playing Peggy Mitchell (pictured), the Queen Vic's battle-axe landlady in BBC soap EastEnders

She later became a household name playing Peggy Mitchell (pictured), the Queen Vic's battle-axe landlady in BBC soap EastEnders

One of Britain’s most beloved entertainment stars, Dame Barbara Windsor (left) first found fame in her role as a buxom blonde in the Carry On films and later became a household name playing Peggy Mitchell (right), the Queen Vic’s battle-axe landlady in BBC soap EastEnders

She died at 8.35pm on Thursday at a London care home, her husband Scott Mitchell (pictured together) said

She died at 8.35pm on Thursday at a London care home, her husband Scott Mitchell (pictured together) said

She died at 8.35pm on Thursday at a London care home, her husband Scott Mitchell (pictured together) said

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

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

Dame Barbara in Aladdin aged 20

Dame Barbara in Aladdin aged 20

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 (left). Right: Dame Barbara in Aladdin aged 20

The Queen visited Elstree Studios – where EastEnders is filmed – in 2001. There she met Dame Windsor who played Peggy Mitchell

Dame Barbara as Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders - along with her on-screen sons Grant Mitchell (played by Ross Kemp) and Phil Mitchell (played by Steve McFadden)

Dame Barbara as Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders - along with her on-screen sons Grant Mitchell (played by Ross Kemp) and Phil Mitchell (played by Steve McFadden)

Dame Barbara as Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders – along with her on-screen sons Grant Mitchell (played by Ross Kemp) and Phil Mitchell (played by Steve McFadden)

‘My best friend and soul mate’: Scott Mitchell’s statement in full

Scott Mitchell said in a statement: ‘It is with deep sadness that I can confirm that my darling wife Barbara passed away at 8.35pm on Thursday 10th December at a London Care Home. Her passing was from Alzheimer’s/Dementia and Barbara eventually died peacefully and I spent the last 7 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. 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.

‘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 drs, 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.

‘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.

‘I will be making no further statements and now need the time to grieve this painful, personal loss.’

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Mr Mitchell said: ‘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. 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.’ 

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.’ 

Paying tribute comedian Jonathan Ross said: ‘Barbara Windsor in real life was everything you might have hoped for. So warm, so funny, so kind. Goodnight sweetheart.’

Tony Blackburn tweeted: ‘So sorry to hear Barbara Windsor has passed away, a lovely lady who was always such fun. R.I.P. Babs.’

Actor Steve McFadden, who plays Dame Barbara’s on-screen son Phil Mitchell, said he was ‘devastated’ by her death. 

Dame Barbara played the landlady of the Queen Victoria and was often heard telling drinkers who had crossed her to ‘get outta my pub!’

Comedian David Walliams, 49, crowned the national treasure the ‘unofficial Queen of England’ in a touching tribute.

He penned: ‘Goodbye Dame Babs. You were my first love as a child in the Carry On films & I will love you forever. 

‘Working with you, spending time with you & being your friend was one of the greatest thrills of my life. The unofficial Queen of England, an icon treasured by the nation.’

Before she had set foot in Albert Square, Dame Barbara had enjoyed a glittering career in showbusiness and was also well known for her portrayal of the ‘good time girl’ in the Carry On series between 1964 and 1974.

Her career only went up from there and she appeared in hit TV series such as Dad’s Army, Worzel Gummidge and One Foot In The Grave.

Game of Thrones star Nathalie Emmanuel, 31, penned: ‘Oh wow… actually feel really sad about the passing of Barbara Windsor.

Meanwhile Annie Wallace, who plays Sally St Clair in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks, posted a touching message to the ‘legendary British actress’.  

The X Factor singing duo Jedward, Scottish TV presenter Gillian McKeith and comedian David Baddiel were also among famous names paying their respects to the national treasure. 

Both Dame Barbara and her husband campaigned to raise awareness of Alzheimer's following her diagnosis. In 2019, she delivered a letter to Boris Johnson (pictured meeting the PM) pleading for better dementia provisions for sufferers

Both Dame Barbara and her husband campaigned to raise awareness of Alzheimer's following her diagnosis. In 2019, she delivered a letter to Boris Johnson (pictured meeting the PM) pleading for better dementia provisions for sufferers

Both Dame Barbara and her husband campaigned to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s following her diagnosis. In 2019, she delivered a letter to Boris Johnson (pictured meeting the PM) pleading for better dementia provisions for sufferers

The TV icon - who became a Dame in 2016 (pictured) - appeared in her first film at the age of 17 in The Belles Of St Trinian's (1954)

The TV icon - who became a Dame in 2016 (pictured) - appeared in her first film at the age of 17 in The Belles Of St Trinian's (1954)

The TV icon – who became a Dame in 2016 (pictured) – appeared in her first film at the age of 17 in The Belles Of St Trinian’s (1954)

Outside of the showbiz world she was made a Dame (pictured) in the Years Honours List in 2016 for her services to charity and entertainment

Outside of the showbiz world she was made a Dame (pictured) in the Years Honours List in 2016 for her services to charity and entertainment

Outside of the showbiz world she was made a Dame (pictured) in the Years Honours List in 2016 for her services to charity and entertainment

The Dame (pictured in Carry On Abroad) was also a self-proclaimed 'Tory and fervent nationalist' and once declared that anyone who didn't wear a poppy for Remembrance Day should 'sod off'

The Dame (pictured in Carry On Abroad) was also a self-proclaimed 'Tory and fervent nationalist' and once declared that anyone who didn't wear a poppy for Remembrance Day should 'sod off'

The Dame (pictured in Carry On Abroad) was also a self-proclaimed ‘Tory and fervent nationalist’ and once declared that anyone who didn’t wear a poppy for Remembrance Day should ‘sod off’

The actress kept the tragic news of her battle with Alzheimer's disease secret for many years, first being told about it in 2014. Pictured: Dame Barbara with her husband Mr Mitchell outside 10 Downing Street where she met the PM last year to discuss dementia care

The actress kept the tragic news of her battle with Alzheimer's disease secret for many years, first being told about it in 2014. Pictured: Dame Barbara with her husband Mr Mitchell outside 10 Downing Street where she met the PM last year to discuss dementia care

The actress kept the tragic news of her battle with Alzheimer’s disease secret for many years, first being told about it in 2014. Pictured: Dame Barbara with her husband Mr Mitchell outside 10 Downing Street where she met the PM last year to discuss dementia care

Dame Barbara (pictured with Mr Mitchell in 2019) in was born Barbara Anne Deeks in Shoreditch, in 1937 to a fruit and veg cart seller and a dressmaker

Dame Barbara (pictured with Mr Mitchell in 2019) in was born Barbara Anne Deeks in Shoreditch, in 1937 to a fruit and veg cart seller and a dressmaker

Dame Barbara (pictured with Mr Mitchell in 2019) in was born Barbara Anne Deeks in Shoreditch, in 1937 to a fruit and veg cart seller and a dressmaker

The actress in 'Carry on Dick' in 1974. Outside of the showbiz world she was a fervent campaigner for the NHS and for many years was the face of the annual British legion appeal and an ambassador for Age UK

The actress in 'Carry on Dick' in 1974. Outside of the showbiz world she was a fervent campaigner for the NHS and for many years was the face of the annual British legion appeal and an ambassador for Age UK

The actress in ‘Carry on Dick’ in 1974. Outside of the showbiz world she was a fervent campaigner for the NHS and for many years was the face of the annual British legion appeal and an ambassador for Age UK

DAME BARBARA WINDSOR’S BATTLE WITH DEMENTIA

Dame Barbara Windsor and her husband wanted to raise awareness of dementia after the star was diagnosed with the condition.

The former EastEnders and Carry On actress discovered she was suffering from Alzheimer’s in 2014, and the couple went public four years later.

Dame Barbara’s decision to do so helped bring the disease – which has no cure – out into the open, charities said.

The star herself was said to have been ‘thrilled’ by the response to going public, saying ‘I’m helping people’, according to her friend, columnist Jane Moore.

Husband Scott Mitchell said that the couple were ‘really nervous’ about revealing she was suffering from the condition.

‘But when we did, there was such an incredible reaction of love and support,’ he later said.

A year later, the TV star delivered a letter, signed by 100,000 people, to Boris Johnson.

It pleaded for better care for dementia sufferers, saying the system is ‘completely inadequate, unfair, unsustainable and in dire need of more money’.

At the end of their chat, Dame Barbara turned to the Prime Minister and asked: ‘Can I have a kiss?’

Dame Barbara appeared on video, in her home in 2018, to speak publicly about dementia.

Her husband and former EastEnders co-stars raised more than £150,000 by running the London Marathon in aid of a dementia campaign.

And Dame Barbara was credited by her friend and former Albert Square co-star Ross Kemp for helping to change the way people think about the condition.

‘For a lot of people, when they get that diagnosis they don’t know what to do, and I think someone like Dame Barbara talking about it lifts some of that stigma,’ the actor, who made an ITV documentary on dementia, told The One Show.

In early 2020, Mitchell told how his wife’s condition had ‘deepened’, and how she often asks where he lives and does not know who he is.

It worsened during lockdown and she was moved to a care home in July 2020.

‘I walk around, trying to keep busy, then burst into tears. It feels like a bereavement,’ Mitchell told The Sun.

‘It’s always been my biggest fear, that one day I would have to take her somewhere and she’d be thinking, ‘Why would he do this to me?’.

‘That fear has become a reality. It’s something I never wanted.’

Less than two years earlier Dame Barbara appeared on a video in aid of a campaign to raise funds and change attitudes towards the condition.

‘I’m asking you to make a stand against dementia,’ she said.

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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. All her life it has been her proud boast that she got the ‘highest mark in North London’.

The talented adolescent 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.

Just a year later she made her West End debut in the musical Love From Judy and from there she didn’t look back, enjoying a glittering career on stage and on screen. 

The TV icon – who became a Dame in 2016 – appeared in her first film at the age of 17 in The Belles Of St Trinian’s (1954).

Dame Barbara started appearing on TV in variety shows, singing numbers with salacious titles such as My Hair, My Teeth, My Bosom, beside comedians Ken Dodd and Benny Hill.

She later received a BAFTA Award nomination for Sparrows Can’t Sing (1963), and a Tony award nomination for the Broadway production of Oh, What A Lovely War! (1964).

And she quickly became known for her comedic talents when she starred as the ‘good time girl’ in the Carry On series between 1964 and 1974. 

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.

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. 

She was cast in EastEnders as Peggy Mitchell in 1994, for which she received the Best Actress Soap Award at the 1999 BSAs and a Lifetime Achievement at the 2009 BSAs.

She left for two years between 2003 and 2005, announced she would quit in 2009, but then returned for one of episodes in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

The workload was frenetic, but she was the soap’s biggest name for the next 15 years — running Albert Square’s Queen Vic until Phil burned it down in 2010. 

Her last appearance aired on May 17 2016 when Peggy took her own life after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

In 2016, she won the Outstanding Contribution Award at the TV Choice Awards, and Best Exit at the Inside Soap Awards, for her portrayal of Peggy’s death.

Dame Barbara first married Ronnie Knight, an associate of the Kray Twins, in 1964.

While married to Knight she had a well-publicised affair with Sid James who first met her in 1964 at the London Palladium. 

She was devastated when James suffered a heart attack in 1976 while on stage and would later divorce Knight in 1985. 

The EastEnders star with David Walliams and his mother. In 2016, Barbara won the Outstanding Contribution Award at the TV Choice Awards, and Best Exit at the Inside Soap Awards, for her portrayal of Peggy's death.

The EastEnders star with David Walliams and his mother. In 2016, Barbara won the Outstanding Contribution Award at the TV Choice Awards, and Best Exit at the Inside Soap Awards, for her portrayal of Peggy's death.

The EastEnders star with David Walliams and his mother. In 2016, Barbara won the Outstanding Contribution Award at the TV Choice Awards, and Best Exit at the Inside Soap Awards, for her portrayal of Peggy’s death.

Dame Barbara attends a Service of Thanksgiving for the Life and Work of comedian Ronnie Corbett at Westminster Abbey on June 7, 2017 in London

Dame Barbara attends a Service of Thanksgiving for the Life and Work of comedian Ronnie Corbett at Westminster Abbey on June 7, 2017 in London

Dame Barbara appears in Carry on Girls in 1973

Dame Barbara appears in Carry on Girls in 1973

Dame Barbara (pictured left) attends a Service of Thanksgiving for the Life and Work of comedian Ronnie Corbett at Westminster Abbey on June 7, 2017 in London. Right: She appears in Carry on Girls in 1973

Barbara (pictured as a child) was born in Shoreditch to a fruit and veg cart seller and a dressmaker

Barbara (pictured as a child) was born in Shoreditch to a fruit and veg cart seller and a dressmaker

Barbara (pictured as a child) was born in Shoreditch to a fruit and veg cart seller and a dressmaker

The actress posing for a risque New Year shoot in 1969

The actress posing for a risque New Year shoot in 1969

Dame Barbara as Daphne Honeybutt in Carry On Spying in 1964

Dame Barbara as Daphne Honeybutt in Carry On Spying in 1964

Right: Dame Barbara as Daphne Honeybutt in Carry On Spying in 1964. Left: The actress posing for a risque New Year shoot in 1969

Dame Barbara played Peggy Mitchell (pictured) on BBC soap EastEnders from 1994 until she left for good in 2016

Dame Barbara played Peggy Mitchell (pictured) on BBC soap EastEnders from 1994 until she left for good in 2016

Dame Barbara played Peggy Mitchell (pictured) on BBC soap EastEnders from 1994 until she left for good in 2016

Barbara's husband Scott Mitchell revealed how his wife began to cry in the neurologist's office when they were given the bad news in April 2014

Barbara's husband Scott Mitchell revealed how his wife began to cry in the neurologist's office when they were given the bad news in April 2014

Barbara’s husband Scott Mitchell revealed how his wife began to cry in the neurologist’s office when they were given the bad news in April 2014

Barbara Windsor poses and smiles for the camera with Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly at the Bafta Awards in London in 2000

Barbara Windsor poses and smiles for the camera with Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly at the Bafta Awards in London in 2000

Barbara Windsor poses and smiles for the camera with Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly at the Bafta Awards in London in 2000

Dame Barbara then married restaurateur Stephen Hollings in Jamaica in 1986- the couple divorced in 1995. She then met aspiring actor Scott Mitchell and they married in 2000.

Dame Barbara, was also known for her annual tradition of performing in pantomines with intoxicating combination of verve, energy and wit wowing audiences all over the country. 

Outside of the showbiz world she was made a Dame in the Years Honours List in 2016 for her services to charity and entertainment.

She was a fervent campaigner for the NHS and for many years was the face of the annual British legion appeal and an ambassador for Age UK.

The Dame was also a self-proclaimed ‘Tory and fervent nationalist’ and once declared that anyone who didn’t wear a poppy for Remembrance Day should ‘sod off’.

The actress kept the tragic news of her battle with Alzheimer’s disease secret for many years, first being told about it in 2014.

She said in December 2017 that she did not like to perform anymore, saying how she wanted audiences to remember her for her roles in the Carry On films.

Mr Mitchell, finally revealed she had been battling the illness for years in May 2018.  

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

In 2019, she delivered a letter to Boris Johnson pleading for better dementia provisions for sufferers. 

Her husband – and former EastEnders co-stars – raised more than £150,000 by running the London Marathon in aid of a dementia campaign in April that same year.

And Dame Barbara was credited by her friend and former Albert Square co-star Ross Kemp for helping to change the way people think about the condition.

‘For a lot of people, when they get that diagnosis they don’t know what to do, and I think someone like Dame Barbara talking about it lifts some of that stigma,’ the actor, who made an ITV documentary on dementia, told The One Show.

In early 2020, Mitchell told how his wife’s condition had ‘deepened’, and how she often asks where he lives and does not know who he is.

It worsened during lockdown and she was moved to a care home in July 2020.

‘I walk around, trying to keep busy, then burst into tears. It feels like a bereavement,’ Mitchell told The Sun.

‘It’s always been my biggest fear, that one day I would have to take her somewhere and she’d be thinking, ‘Why would he do this to me?’.

‘That fear has become a reality. It’s something I never wanted.’

Less than two years earlier Dame Barbara appeared on a video in aid of a campaign to raise funds and change attitudes towards the condition.

‘I’m asking you to make a stand against dementia,’ she said. 

In August this year Mitchell said his wife had been moved to a care home in London. 

An East End legend from her days with the Krays to ordering enemies ‘Get outta my pub’ – how 4ft 10in ‘Babs’ towered over British showbusiness for more than 60 years 

An East End legend from her days with the Krays to ordering enemies to ‘Get outta my pub’ – 4ft 10in ‘Babs’ towered over British showbusiness for more than 60 years. 

The 83-year-old cockney heroine Dame Barbara Windsor died on Thursday evening at a London care home after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease six years ago.

With her irresistible chuckling laugh and signature crop of bright blonde hair, she became one the nation’s stars as a buxom blonde in the Carry On films.

Successfully crossing the generational divide, she later became just as revered for her role as Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders as the Queen Victoria landlady who often yelled at rogue drinkers ‘get outta my pub.’ 

She was born Barbara Ann Deeks on August 6, 1937 in Shoreditch in east London to father John, a barrow boy, and her dressmaker mother Rose.

From an early age Dame Barbara was sent to elocution lessons by her mother, who she once described as a ‘snobby East-Ender’.

At 15, her parents divorced and she was required to give evidence in court, but her testimony caused her father to abandon her. The pair never properly resolved their feud.

She later said that the moment ‘haunted’ her for years, because she was a ‘daddy’s girl’ and she had not been able to share his side of the story.

Dame Barbara Windsor as pub landlord Peggy Mitchell dishes out a slap in the Queen Victoria to Frank Butcher (Mike Reid) as Pat Evans (Pam St Clement) stands close by in EastEnders

Dame Barbara Windsor as pub landlord Peggy Mitchell dishes out a slap in the Queen Victoria to Frank Butcher (Mike Reid) as Pat Evans (Pam St Clement) stands close by in EastEnders

Dame Barbara Windsor as pub landlord Peggy Mitchell dishes out a slap in the Queen Victoria to Frank Butcher (Mike Reid) as Pat Evans (Pam St Clement) stands close by in EastEnders 

Barbara Windsor and her husband Ronnie Knight with gangster Reggie Kray (right) and his wife Frances Shea (left) at the El Morocco nightclub, owned by the Kray Twins in Soho, London, 30th April 1965

Barbara Windsor and her husband Ronnie Knight with gangster Reggie Kray (right) and his wife Frances Shea (left) at the El Morocco nightclub, owned by the Kray Twins in Soho, London, 30th April 1965

Barbara Windsor and her husband Ronnie Knight with gangster Reggie Kray (right) and his wife Frances Shea (left) at the El Morocco nightclub, owned by the Kray Twins in Soho, London, 30th April 1965

Actress Barbara Windsor pouring champagne for her husband Ronnie Knight as her mother Rose looks on after the first night of Sing a Rude Song at the Garrick Theatre in 1970

Actress Barbara Windsor pouring champagne for her husband Ronnie Knight as her mother Rose looks on after the first night of Sing a Rude Song at the Garrick Theatre in 1970

Actress Barbara Windsor pouring champagne for her husband Ronnie Knight as her mother Rose looks on after the first night of Sing a Rude Song at the Garrick Theatre in 1970

Pictured in Carry On Camping in 1969

Pictured in Carry On Camping in 1969

Dane Barbara on Eastenders

Dane Barbara on Eastenders

Pictured in Carry On Camping in 1969 (left) and on Eastenders (right). Dame Barbara had enjoyed a glittering career in showbusiness and was also well known for her portrayal of the ‘good time girl’ in the Carry On series between 1964 and 1974

Dame Barbara starring in Carry on Again Doctor with Jim Dale and Hattie Jacques

Dame Barbara starring in Carry on Again Doctor with Jim Dale and Hattie Jacques

Dame Barbara starring in Carry on Again Doctor with Jim Dale and Hattie Jacques 

Barbara (pictured as a child) was born in Shoreditch to a fruit and veg cart seller and a dressmaker

Barbara (pictured as a child) was born in Shoreditch to a fruit and veg cart seller and a dressmaker

Barbara (pictured as a child) was born in Shoreditch to a fruit and veg cart seller and a dressmaker

Dame Barbara’s first film appearance came in 1954’s The Belles Of St Trinians, but it was not until her appearances in the Carry On films that she rose to national prominence.

The star’s debut in the comedy series saw her star alongside Bernard Cribbins in Carry On Spying in 1964.

She appeared in nine of the 31 Carry On films, but was mostly associated with Carry On Camping and the memorable and risque scene in which her bikini top springs off during an exercise routine.

With her blonde hair and infectious giggle, the 4ft 10ins star instantly became popular with audiences, before her final appearance in 1974’s Carry On Dick.

She later said that she was typecast after appearing in the films.

‘Years after it ended, no-one would give me a part where I played my age,’ she told the Daily Express in 2007.

‘People would get tunnel vision and only see the Carry On films.’

Other roles over the years included a small part in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, opposite Dick Van Dyke, Ken Russell’s The Boy Friend and On The Fiddle with Sean Connery.

As well as her screen career, Dame Barbara was known for treading the boards, having made her stage debut at the age of 13, before going on to land her first West End role in the chorus of Love From Judy in 1952.

She also starred on Broadway in a production of Oh, What A Lovely War!, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award.

Years later, fame came knocking again for Dame Barbara when she made her debut as Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders in 1994, starring alongside Ross Kemp and Steve McFadden as her fictional sons Grant and Phil, and Mike Reid as on-screen husband Frank Butcher.

A beloved member of the cast, she was at the heart of many of the soap’s most famous storylines. 

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

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

Dame Barbara in Aladdin aged 20

Dame Barbara in Aladdin aged 20

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 (left). Right: Dame Barbara in Aladdin aged 20

The Dame (pictured in Carry On Abroad) was also a self-proclaimed 'Tory and fervent nationalist' and once declared that anyone who didn't wear a poppy for Remembrance Day should 'sod off'

The Dame (pictured in Carry On Abroad) was also a self-proclaimed 'Tory and fervent nationalist' and once declared that anyone who didn't wear a poppy for Remembrance Day should 'sod off'

The Dame (pictured in Carry On Abroad) was also a self-proclaimed ‘Tory and fervent nationalist’ and once declared that anyone who didn’t wear a poppy for Remembrance Day should ‘sod off’

The Queen visited Elstree Studios – where EastEnders is filmed – in 2001. There she met Dame Windsor who played Peggy Mitchell

Dame Barbara played Peggy Mitchell (pictured) on the soap from 1994 until she left for good in 2016

Dame Barbara played Peggy Mitchell (pictured) on the soap from 1994 until she left for good in 2016

Dame Barbara played Peggy Mitchell (pictured) on the soap from 1994 until she left for good in 2016

Windsor as Daphne Honeybutt in Carry On Spying in 1964

Windsor as Daphne Honeybutt in Carry On Spying in 1964

Posing for a risque New Year Year shoot in 1969

Posing for a risque New Year Year shoot in 1969

Windsor as Daphne Honeybutt in Carry On Spying in 1964 (right), and posing for a risque New Year Year shoot in 1969 (left)

British actress Barbara Windsor poses with her insignia as she poses for a photograph with her husband Scott Mitchell, after being appointed a Dame Commander of the order of the British Empire (DBE) in March 2016

British actress Barbara Windsor poses with her insignia as she poses for a photograph with her husband Scott Mitchell, after being appointed a Dame Commander of the order of the British Empire (DBE) in March 2016

British actress Barbara Windsor poses with her insignia as she poses for a photograph with her husband Scott Mitchell, after being appointed a Dame Commander of the order of the British Empire (DBE) in March 2016

Peggy Mitchell, played by Barbara Windsor, in her most famous role. She captured the hearts of the nation with her performance as the landlady of the Queen Victoria pub and mother of Grant and Phil Mitchell (played by Ross Kemp and Steve McFadden)

Peggy Mitchell, played by Barbara Windsor, in her most famous role. She captured the hearts of the nation with her performance as the landlady of the Queen Victoria pub and mother of Grant and Phil Mitchell (played by Ross Kemp and Steve McFadden)

Peggy Mitchell, played by Barbara Windsor, in her most famous role. She captured the hearts of the nation with her performance as the landlady of the Queen Victoria pub and mother of Grant and Phil Mitchell (played by Ross Kemp and Steve McFadden) 

Peggy’s storylines saw her instigate a hate campaign against HIV positive Mark Fowler, played by Todd Carty. She started an affair with Frank Butcher, engaged in cat-fights with his ex-wife Pat, escaped two failed marriages, and lost and regained ownership of the Queen Vic pub countless times.

When her character contracted breast cancer, she wrote many letters of advice to viewers who contacted her about their own struggles with the disease.

In 2003, Dame Barbara suffered an attack of the Epstein-Barr virus which forced her to take a break from EastEnders from 2003 to 2005. She returned briefly for two episodes in 2004.

In 2009, Dame Barbara announced she would be leaving the soap for good in order to spend more time with her third husband Scott Mitchell, who she married in 2000 and who was 25 years her junior.

The following year her character exited the soap after a fire at her pub.

She popped up on handful of occasions over the years before reprising the role for a final time in 2016, where it was announced that Peggy would be killed off after losing her battle with breast cancer.

Her final scenes aired in May 2016 in an emotional episode that left viewers weeping.

Her performances as Peggy earned her numerous awards including best actress at the 1999 British Soap Awards and best exit at the 2016 Inside Soap Awards.

But her most prestigious accolade came in 2016, when she was made a Dame in for her services to charity and entertainment from The Queen.

At the time, she said: ‘I am so very honoured, proud and extremely humbled by this honour.

‘I feel so lucky to live in a country I love, a job I have always adored which has allowed me to be in a position where I am able to help others.

Dame Barbara Windsor attends a Service of Thanksgiving for the Life and Work of comedian Ronnie Corbett at Westminster Abbey on June 7, 2017 in London

Dame Barbara Windsor attends a Service of Thanksgiving for the Life and Work of comedian Ronnie Corbett at Westminster Abbey on June 7, 2017 in London

Dame Barbara in Carry on Girls in 1973

Dame Barbara in Carry on Girls in 1973

Dame Barbara Windsor (pictured left) attends a Service of Thanksgiving for the Life and Work of comedian Ronnie Corbett at Westminster Abbey on June 7, 2017 in London. Pictured right she appears in Carry on Girls in 1973

The EastEnders star with David Walliams and his mother. In 2016, Barbara won the Outstanding Contribution Award at the TV Choice Awards, and Best Exit at the Inside Soap Awards, for her portrayal of Peggy's death.

The EastEnders star with David Walliams and his mother. In 2016, Barbara won the Outstanding Contribution Award at the TV Choice Awards, and Best Exit at the Inside Soap Awards, for her portrayal of Peggy's death.

The EastEnders star with David Walliams and his mother. In 2016, Barbara won the Outstanding Contribution Award at the TV Choice Awards, and Best Exit at the Inside Soap Awards, for her portrayal of Peggy’s death.

Outside of the showbiz world she was made a Dame (pictured) in the Years Honours List in 2016 for her services to charity and entertainment

Outside of the showbiz world she was made a Dame (pictured) in the Years Honours List in 2016 for her services to charity and entertainment

Outside of the showbiz world she was made a Dame (pictured) in the Years Honours List in 2016 for her services to charity and entertainment

Both Dame Barbara and her husband campaigned to raise awareness of Alzheimer's following her diagnosis. In 2019, she delivered a letter to Boris Johnson (pictured meeting the PM) pleading for better dementia provisions for sufferers

Both Dame Barbara and her husband campaigned to raise awareness of Alzheimer's following her diagnosis. In 2019, she delivered a letter to Boris Johnson (pictured meeting the PM) pleading for better dementia provisions for sufferers

Both Dame Barbara and her husband campaigned to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s following her diagnosis. In 2019, she delivered a letter to Boris Johnson (pictured meeting the PM) pleading for better dementia provisions for sufferers

‘For a girl from the East End born into a working-class family and an evacuee during World War Two, this is truly like a dream. I am so happy and blessed to say it’s real.’

As well as her EastEnders role dominating her later years, in 2010 she voiced Mallymkun the Dormouse in Tim Burton’s live action adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland and in 2016’s Alice Through The Looking Glass.

In 2017, the BBC aired a biopic film called Babs, charting her rise to fame, penned by EastEnders scriptwriter Tony Jordan and starring Jaime Winstone and Samantha Spiro as younger versions of the star.

She said watching it back and reliving the biggest moments in her life was a ‘very emotional experience for me’.

‘I managed to get through it without completely breaking down but at the end I stood up and walked out of the room and had a good cry,’ she added.

Much of what was shown in the film focused on her showbiz career, which had been dogged by heartache – from her strained relationship with her father to her relationship woes.

While happily married to former actor and recruitment consultant Mr Mitchell in her later years, the actress had a more turbulent personal life before settling down with him.

The actress in 'Carry on Dick' in 1974. Outside of the showbiz world She was a fervent campaigner for the NHS and for many years was the face of the annual British legion appeal and an ambassador for Age UK

The actress in 'Carry on Dick' in 1974. Outside of the showbiz world She was a fervent campaigner for the NHS and for many years was the face of the annual British legion appeal and an ambassador for Age UK

The actress in ‘Carry on Dick’ in 1974. Outside of the showbiz world She was a fervent campaigner for the NHS and for many years was the face of the annual British legion appeal and an ambassador for Age UK

Dame Barbara first married Ronnie Knight, an associate of the Kray Twins, in 1964. While married to Knight she had a well-publicised affair with Sid James (pictured together) who first met her in 1964 at the London Palladium

Dame Barbara first married Ronnie Knight, an associate of the Kray Twins, in 1964. While married to Knight she had a well-publicised affair with Sid James (pictured together) who first met her in 1964 at the London Palladium

Dame Barbara first married Ronnie Knight, an associate of the Kray Twins, in 1964. While married to Knight she had a well-publicised affair with Sid James (pictured together) who first met her in 1964 at the London Palladium

Barbara's husband Scott Mitchell revealed how his wife began to cry in the neurologist's office when they were given the bad news in April 2014

Barbara's husband Scott Mitchell revealed how his wife began to cry in the neurologist's office when they were given the bad news in April 2014

Barbara’s husband Scott Mitchell revealed how his wife began to cry in the neurologist’s office when they were given the bad news in April 2014

She married Ronnie Knight, an associate of the notorious criminals Ronald and Reginald Kray, in 1964, but during their marriage, Dame Barbara had a well-publicised affair with her Carry On co-star Sid James.

She divorced Knight 21 years after they married when he fled to Spain, wanted by police in connection with the £6 million Security Express robbery in 1983.

In 1986 she married chef Stephen Hollings, 20 years her junior. They opened a pub together in Amersham in Buckinghamshire, but divorced after nine years.

She married Mr Mitchell in 2000, after first meeting him in 1992.

Dame Barbara never had children and spoke openly about having had five abortions, but in 2017 she said that she did not regret not becoming a mother.

‘I consider myself to be a warm and lovely person but I never had any maternal feelings,’ she told The Sun in 2017.

Dame Barbara Windsor, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in 2014. But her husband Scott Mitchell only revealed she was battling the illness in May 2018

Dame Barbara Windsor, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in 2014. But her husband Scott Mitchell only revealed she was battling the illness in May 2018

Dame Barbara Windsor, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2014. But her husband Scott Mitchell only revealed she was battling the illness in May 2018

In May 2018, Mr Mitchell revealed in an interview that Dame Barbara had been living with Alzheimer’s after being diagnosed in April 2014.

In August 2020 Mr Mitchell revealed that Dame Barbara had been moved to a care home as she struggled with her advancing dementia.

A heartbroken Mr Mitchell said the former EastEnders star left the couple’s home in mid-July.

Speaking to The Sun, he said: ‘I feel I’m on an emotional rollercoaster. I walk around, trying to keep busy, then burst into tears. It feels like a bereavement.

‘It’s always been my biggest fear, that one day I would have to take her somewhere and she’d be thinking, ‘Why would he do this to me?’

‘That fear has become a reality. It’s something I never wanted.’

Mr Mitchell, Dame Barbara’s husband of 20 years, said she had moved to a care home in London and he had decorated her room to make it as welcoming as possible.

The actress and Mr Mitchell campaigned throughout her illness to raise awareness, and in 2019 they visited Downing Street for a meeting about dementia – during which she showed off her cheeky side by asking Prime Minister Boris Johnson for a kiss.

Dame Barbara delivered a letter signed by 100,000 people to Mr Johnson pleading for better care for fellow sufferers.

Mr Johnson held the ailing actress’ hand as they sat in the garden, discussing the limitations of dementia care in the UK.

Barbara Windsor poses and smiles for the camera with Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly at the Bafta Awards in London in 2000

Barbara Windsor poses and smiles for the camera with Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly at the Bafta Awards in London in 2000

Barbara Windsor poses and smiles for the camera with Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly at the Bafta Awards in London in 2000

At the end of their afternoon chat, Dame Barbara turned to the Conservative leader and asked: ‘Can I have a kiss?’.

Among those supporting her since her diagnosis was her close friend and former EastEnders co-star Ross Kemp.

Kemp, who played Grant Mitchell on Albert Square for more than 25 years alongside Dame Barbara as his on-screen mother, went on to make an ITV programme called Living With Dementia.

In the programme, which aired in June 2020, Kemp, 56, explained that her illness was the reason he decided to explore the disease on screen. 

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