Prince William has tonight paid tribute to the ‘national treasure’ Dame Barbara Windsor by taking the stage at a Christmas pantomime.
The fitting tribute, given Dame Barbara’s frequent appearance as a pantomime star, saw Prince William, 38, briefly leave his family in the Royal Box to deliver a short speech on The London Palladium’s stage, in the West End.
Addressing the audience ahead of the show, the Duke of Cambridge said: ‘Before I go on, I want to pause and pay tribute to a true national treasure, Dame Barbara Windsor, who so sadly passed away last night.
‘She was a giant of the entertainment world, and of course a legend on pantomime stages across the country including here at the London Palladium. And I know we’ll all miss her hugely.’
The star died at a London care home on Thursday night at the age of 83 following a long battle with Alzheimer’s.
The Duke of Cambridge gave a speech on stage and thanked Britain’s key workers and sweetly marked the death of Dame Barbara Windsor, a fitting tribute given her frequent appearance as a pantomime star
William said in his speech: ‘Before I go on, I want to pause and pay tribute to a true national treasure, Dame Barbara Windsor, who so sadly passed away last night. Pictured: Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Dame Barbara Windsor in 2013
In a rare public outing this evening, an excited Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis watched a performance of Pantoland – staring Julian Clary, Elaine Paige and a host of stars – with parents William and Kate in the royal box.
The special show was staged at the London Palladium to thank key workers from across the capital and their families for their efforts during the pandemic.
It was the Cambridges’ first red carpet engagement as a family of five.
The children, who appeared apprehensive when they arrived, relaxed and looked on with glee as they took their seats and saw their father making a speech before the performance.
Earlier this week the duke and duchess travelled 1,250 miles around the country, during a three-day tour on the royal train, to thank frontline and key workers, communities and individuals for their efforts during the pandemic.
William added: ‘We are here tonight for a very special performance. Special, because of you – the key workers here in the audience.
‘You include community workers, volunteers, teachers, NHS staff, representatives from the emergency services and military, researchers working on the vaccine, people helping the homeless, those manning vital call centres, and staff from a wide range of frontline charities – to name but a few.
‘You have given your absolute all this year, and made remarkable sacrifices.’
When William returned to the box, there was a swift shuffling of seats, as the duke sat between his eldest son and daughter, leaving Charlotte briefly holding her face in her hand for some reason, as Louis sat on Kate’s lap.
The royal couple later tweeted their tribute to the Kensington Royal Twitter account. Reading: ‘I want ot pause and pay tribute to a true national treasure, Dame Barbara Windsor’
Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis had their first experience of a royal box, chatting excitedly (with the Duchess of Cambridge) as they waited for the start of the performance of ‘Pantoland’, starring Julian Clary and Elaine Page
The Duchess of Cambridge with Prince Louis on her lap as Princess Charlotte rests her head of her mother ahead of the performance
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their children Prince George (right), Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis (left) ahead of a special pantomime performance at The London Palladium, hosted by The National Lottery on Friday
Guests were encouraged to wear a Christmas jumper and while Kate wore a dress by Alessandra Rich, William had on a festive red pullover.
When the Cambridges first arrived George, aged seven, Charlotte, aged five, and two-year-old Louis stopped briefly to watch actors dressed as elves entertaining the guests on the red carpet.
The young royals were photographed meeting Sir David Attenborough at their Kensington Palace home in September, when he came to watch his new film with their father.
And the children also went to see Kate’s garden at the Chelsea Flower Show last year.
Earlier today Prince Charles also remembered the ‘Great British actor and campaigner’ Dame Barbara while the BBC said Walford had ‘lost its Dame’.
Dame Barbara Windsor, best known for her roles in EastEnders and the Carry On films, has died aged 83, her husband Scott Mitchell (pictured in one of their final photos together last Feburary) has revealed
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth visits the set of BBC soap opera Eastenders with actress Barbara Windsor, in London, Britain November 28, 2001
Boris Johnson also paid tribute saying she ‘cheered the world up with her own British brand of harmless sauciness and innocent scandal’ while David Walliams called her ‘the unofficial Queen of England’ and an ‘icon treasured by the nation’.
Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, called her ‘a great British actor and tireless charity campaigner who will be deeply missed’, sharing photographs of them laughing with her at royal engagements in recent years.
Famed for her infectious laugh and baring all in the Carry On films, the east London-born actress universally known as ‘Babs’, boasted a 66-year career in showbiz, first appearing on stage aged 13 before retiring four years ago aged 79 as dementia took its toll forcing the 4ft 10ins actress to stop playing fearsome landlady Peggy Mitchell on EastEnders.
The BBC said in a statement: ‘We are all deeply saddened that that we’ve lost our Dame. From the moment Barbara stepped foot in Walford she created an icon in Peggy Mitchell, our formidable Landlady, who the audience instantly fell in love with.
‘But to all of us at EastEnders, she was our dearest friend who was truly loved and adored by everyone. Our thoughts go out to Scott and Barbara’s family. Rest in peace Dame Barbara Windsor, MBE.’
Prince Charles and his wife Camila shared their tribute and memories of Barbara today
EastEnders said it had lost its ‘Dame’ today. Babs showed her more gritty side as the Queen Vic’s formidable Peggy Mitchell
While her lifelong friend Sir Elton John tweeted: ‘The world has lost the biggest ray of light. And heaven has the sweetest and funniest angel’. Patsy Palmer, who played Bianca Jackson in EastEnders, said: ‘I can hear that laugh now as I sit and think about her. I hope it’ll ring in my ears forever.’ Joan Collins said: ‘Showbusiness has lost a legend’ while Shane Richie said: ‘There are no words. She will always be my Duchess’.
She is survived by her third husband Scott Mitchell, who announced this morning that his ‘best friend and soul mate’ passed away peacefully in a London care home at 8.35pm on Thursday. He had moved into her home a few days earlier to be by her side when she died.
Dame Barbara had no children, often saying she never regretted it because of the way she had been rejected by her own father, and spoke candidly about having five abortions in her life.
Mr Mitchell said his wife’s final weeks were ‘typical of how she lived her life’ and were ‘full of humour, drama and a fighting spirit until the end’.
Dame Barbara became one of the most famous faces on British screens for her fun-filled saucy roles in the Carry On comedies of the 1960s and 70s before before becoming the no-nonsense Queen Vic landlady Peggy Mitchell. As she bravely fought Alzheimer’s in the final years of her life, she turned her energies to campaigning to protect those with dementia, the vulnerable and the lonely as well her passionate support of the Armed Forces through the Poppy Appeal.
The actress – who was made a Dame by the Queen in 2016 – announced she was suffering from Alzheimer’s in 2018, having been diagnosed four years earlier. She moved to a care home in July, five months before she died.
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
Barbara (pictured as a child) was born in Shoreditch to a fruit and veg cart seller and a dressmaker, making her stage debut aged 13
In the 1950s she attended the Aida Foster Theatre School in London’s Golders Green (pictured) before becoming a household name in the 1960s and 1970s
The 4ft 10in star first found fame in her role as a buxom blonde in the Carry On films – pictured in Carry On Again Doctor – and later became a household name playing Peggy Mitchell, the Queen Vic’s battle-axe landlady in BBC soap EastEnders
Her death revealed in a statement by her husband Scott Mitchell, 57, 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.’
EastEnders co-stars pay tribute to ‘remarkable’ Dame Barbara Windsor
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)
Steve McFadden, who plays Dame Barbara’s on-screen son Phil Mitchell, said: ‘I truly loved Barbara and, like everyone, I am going to miss her terribly. When anyone ever asked what she was like, I would always say she was everything you would hope she would be, and more,’ he said.
Letitia Dean, who stars as Sharon Mitchell, said: ‘They broke the mould when they made Dame Barbara Windsor, there will never be another like that incredible woman, everyone who met her loved her and she will be deeply missed’.
EastEnders star Danny Dyer, who plays Mick Carter, wrote on Instagram: ‘Rest in Peace Babs. There is only one Dame in my eyes. So grateful to have known ya. You was a beautiful rare one.’
Nitin Ganatra, who played Masood Ahmed: ‘It was a privilege and honour to work with this remarkable, sparkling, funny, straight talking, generous woman.’
Adam Woodyatt, who plays Ian Beale: ‘I have so many happy memories and moments that I will always cherish, even when Peggy floored Ian with a punch.’
Patsy Palmer, who played Bianca Jackson: I can hear that laugh now as I sit and think about her. I hope it’ll ring in my ears forever.’
Jessie Wallace, who plays Kat Slater: ‘My darling Barbara. So heartbroken to hear you have left us. I love you.’
Craig Fairbrass, who played Dan Sullivan: ‘I was lucky enough to have shared the screen with that lovely lady & iconic actress. I’ll never forget it. A larger than life proper legend.’
Ricky Norwood, who played Fatboy: ‘Full of energy, big smile, so warm and welcoming… Loved that you always had time for young actors and fans. Legend.’
Danny Dyer, who played Mick Carter: ‘Rest in Peace Babs. There is only one Dame in my eyes. So grateful to have known ya. You was a beautiful rare one.’
He added: ‘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.’
Born as Barbara Deeks to a market stall trader father and dressmaker mother in London’s Shoreditch in 1937, Dame Barbara began her stage career aged 13 and move to films four years later having taken the stage name Windsor in 1953, inspired by the Queen’s coronation.
It was in the Carry On films that she found lasting fame, playing good-time-girl characters who laughed along with Sid James, Kenneth Williams and the others in nine of the iconic comedies.
Carry On Camping was voted the nation’s favourite of the bawdy films, and the scene in which her bikini top pinged off during an exercise class would define this stage of her career.
Three-times-married Dame Barbara’s off-screen life was often as colourful as the characters she portrayed. In her Swinging Sixties heyday she hung around with notorious East End gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray, and married their associate Ronnie Knight.
After finding huge success in the Carry On films, her acting work dried up and her career appeared to be fading – before she bagged the role as Peggy in EastEnders.
Dame Barbara found a new audience in EastEnders as hard-faced Peggy, beloved ‘mum’ to Walford hard-men Grant and Phil Mitchell. It was a role she played on-and-off for 22 years, ejecting unwelcome drinkers from her Queen Vic but with a trademark scream: ‘Get outta my pub!’
She was made a dame in the 2016 New Year’s Honours list, for her services to charity and entertainment.
She was an avid 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’.
After being nominated for her Damehood, at a time when she was suffering privately from the illness that would take her life, the actress 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.
‘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.’
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s Clarence House Twitter account shared a tribute to Dame Barbara Windsor.
It accompanied an image of the actress shortly after she was created a dame at Buckingham Palace and said: ‘Dame Barbara Windsor – a great British actor and tireless charity campaigner who will be deeply missed.’
Babs’ EastEnders’ family are united in grief today.
June Brown, known for playing Dot Cotton on EastEnders, recalled her time on the soap with Dame Barbara Windsor.
She said: ‘I’m thinking of Babs as she was when she came in to EastEnders as Peggy Mitchell – tiny, bright, bubbly, pretty and friendly to everyone. She soon became loved by all the cast.
‘We became great friends. We had adjoining dressing room and she was always popping in for coffee, and we’d go to lunch together; she kept me up to date with all the gossip. I wished we’d had more scenes together but our only one was in her last episode, when Dot said goodbye to Peggy, knowing that she was dying.’
Brown said the pair talked regularly on the phone following Dame Barbara’s departure from the soap.
She added: ‘In our last phone call she asked me several times where I was – I finally said ‘I’m at home’ and her comment was ‘I’d like to come to your home’, but it was too late for that.
‘At this time, I’m thinking of her very loving husband Scott, who has created a legacy for her by training to run marathons in her name, owing to her great popularity, to raise an enormous amount of money in aid of the charity Dementia Revolution.
‘They had such a happy marriage; they were like two children, always laughing together. While I’m still here, she’ll always be alive in my mind.’
Shane Richie said Dame Barbara Windsor was ‘a people’s person’. The actor, who has starred alongside Dame Barbara in EastEnders, made the comments while presenting the BBC’s The One Show.
He said: ‘She really was a people’s person, she absolutely loved the general public.’
Discussing his appearance, he said: ‘I’m wearing a suit and I wouldn’t normally wear a suit. Babs always used to say to me, ‘Sweetheart, if you want to be a star, look like a star, alright darling’. And that’s why I’m wearing one.’
Richie added: ‘The general public adored her, from the Carry On films right up to Peggy Mitchell.’
Actors Steve McFadden and Letitia Dean also paid tribute.
McFadden, who plays Dame Barbara’s on-screen son Phil Mitchell, said: ‘I truly loved Barbara and, like everyone, I am going to miss her terribly.
‘When anyone ever asked what she was like, I would always say she was everything you would hope she would be, and more,’ he said.
Her lifelong friend Sir Elton John tweeted: ‘The world has lost the biggest ray of light. And heaven has the sweetest and funniest angel’.
Joan Collins said: ‘Show Business has lost a legend’.
‘Queen of England’: David Walliams has crowned the national treasure, who found fame in the 1960s in the Carry On films, as the ‘unofficial Queen of England’ in a touching tribute
The cast today rallied to remember their Albert Square co-star. Adam Woodyatt, who plays Ian Beale, shared a photo of him with Dame Barbara on her last night of filming. Jessie Wallace, who plays Kat Slater, said: ‘My darling Barbara. So heartbroken to hear you have left us. I love you
How thrice-married Babs finally found love with her ‘toyboy’ husband Scott Mitchell after marriages to gangster and chef failed
Dame Barbara Windsor finally found enduring love with her third husband Scott Mitchell.
The couple wed just over 20 years ago in London’s Dorchester Hotel.
The actress was 62 and Mitchell was 36 and their relationship became one of the most solid in the showbiz world.
Before her successful third marriage, Dame Barbara had a colourful love life dogged by heartache.
The soap star had flings with footballer George Best, Bee Gee Maurice Gibb and Carry On co-star Sid James.
Her marriage to infamous East End villain Ronnie Knight often hit the headlines.
She divorced Knight after 21 years of marriage when he fled to Spain while wanted by police in connection with the 1983 £6 million Security Express robbery, for which he was later jailed.
The Carry On star also dated Charlie Kray, the brother of gangster twins Ronnie and Reggie.
Her second husband was Stephen Hollings, a chef 20 years her junior who she wed in 1986.
They opened a pub together in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, but later divorced.
She later told how she was nearly £1 million in the red as she battled to cope with huge debts run up by Hollings during their ill-fated marriage.
The actress never had children and spoke openly about having had five abortions.
Dame Barbara met Mitchell while she performed in Joe Orton’s black comedy Entertaining Mr Sloane.
Their relationship began the year before she enjoyed huge success and a career comeback as no-nonsense matriarch Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders.
She later said ‘meeting Scott is the best thing that ever happened to me’.
When the couple started dating, some suggested her new man was a gold-digging toyboy.
Mitchell later told The Sun: ‘Little did they know that after the breakdown of Bar’s second marriage, she was £1 million in debt and we were talking about her coming to live in my two-bed flat.’
Letitia Dean, who stars as Sharon Mitchell, said: ‘I would like to say what utterly heartbreaking news I woke up to this morning.
‘They broke the mould when they made Dame Barbara Windsor, there will never be another like that incredible woman, everyone who met her loved her and she will be deeply missed.
‘I would like to send everything I have to her amazing husband Scott, what a beautiful soul he is. My heart goes out to him and I just wish I could give him the biggest cuddle he has ever had. RIP dearest Barbara. You will be missed beyond measure.’
EastEnders star Danny Dyer wrote on Instagram: ‘Rest in Peace Babs. There is only one Dame in my eyes. So grateful to have known ya. You was a beautiful rare one.’
EastEnders star Adam Woodyatt paid tribute to Dame Barbara Windsor.
‘I grew up watching ‘Babs’ in the Carry On films, and for me to then work with her was a privilege and honour,’ the actor, who plays Ian Beale in the soap, said.
‘I have so many happy memories and moments that I will always cherish, even when Peggy floored Ian with a punch.
‘My thoughts are with her amazing husband Scott, her family and friends. Rest in Peace Barbara xxxx,’ he said in a statement.
Former Albert Square co-star Patsy Palmer, who played Bianca Jackson, said: ‘We were like family for a long time, ups downs, ins and outs, but you will never meet a more professional actress than Babs… I can hear that laugh now as I sit and think about her. I hope it’ll ring in my ears forever.’
Diane Parish, who played Denise Fox in EastEnders, paid tribute to Dame Barbara Windsor in a statement to the PA news agency: ‘Our dearest friend and colleague has passed and left a hole, not only on our screens, but in our nation that cannot be filled.
‘I will remember her kindness and of course laughter.
‘She made the special effort to spend time and say something meaningful to each and every person the last time we saw her at work. So sorry for her loss for you Scott.
‘Little lady, Big presence. Sleep in peace Bar.’
Former co-star Larry Lamb today said Dame Barbara’s appreciation to be given a role in the BBC soap always shone through.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We had lots of conversations that ranged over all sorts of subjects. I remember her saying the years in between were tough when she was trying to put together enough money to live off.
‘And it was really really hard because there were those lean years after the Carry On films and she was in the wilderness, and the one thing she never made any bones about was that EastEnders really changed her life and put her back on the map and gave her the means to earn a good living, and that’s what she went on to do.’
Lamb added: ‘She was definitely the head girl at EastEnders, she knew how to be the leading lady… The word star gets bandied about a bit these days but she really was a star.’
David Walliams called her the ‘unofficial Queen of England’ and said: ‘You were my first love as a child in the Carry On films and I will love you forever. Working with you, spending time with you and being your friend was one of the greatest thrills of my life.’
Dame Barbara’s close friend and fellow Carry On star Amanda Barrie remembered that side of the actress today and fondly said there was ‘a less likely dame you’ve ever met’.
She recalled working together at Winston’s night club on Bond Street in 1957, where they would get dressed in the meat safe which doubled as the backstage area.
‘They’d come in to get some steaks and over our heads would be dripped blood. Barbara would be like, ‘Mind my make up!’,’ she told ITV’s GMB.
Barrie said the last time she saw the actress was at her 80th birthday party three years ago: ‘She was frail but she knew me… She knew me and she remembered the things that I would prefer to remember. Life does awful things and it’s not fair…’
The TV icon – who became a Dame in 2016 (pictured) – appeared in her first film The Belles Of St Trinian’s as a teenager (pictured)
Dame Barbara curtseying to Dame Shirley Bassey at Buckingham Palace. Dame Barbara said at the time: ‘I was getting the MBE, and I put on hat and gloves for the Queen. I’ve known Shirley Bassey since I was about 16 and she was being made a Dame. I thought ‘I’ve got to curtsey to her, haven’t I?’ I know my place. She shrieked with laughter’
The Queen visited Elstree Studios – where EastEnders is filmed – in 2001. There she met Dame Barbara who played Peggy Mitchell
Dame Barbara Windsor pictured at home reading her autobiography All Of Me
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’
Barbara Windsor and her first-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, April 30, 1965
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
Boris Johnson, who visited the Queen Vic and met Dame Barbara while Mayor of London, before hosting her in Downing Street last year during her Alzheimer’s campaign, paid tribute
Stars from across the world of showbiz including Little Britain’s David Walliams and Matt Lucas paid tribute to Dame Barbara
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
‘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.
Dame Joan Collins – who starred in American soap Dynasty throughout the 1980s – wrote on Instagram: ‘Show business has lost a legend. Barbara Windsor: You will be missed.’
Dame Barbara enjoyed a precocious childhood, passing her 11-plus a year early with ‘the highest mark in north London’. Her mother sent her for elocution lessons and encouraged her towards the stage, sending her for training at the Aida Foster School in Golders Green.
She appeared in panto aged 13 and cut her showbiz teeth in TV variety shows, singing numbers with risqué 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 in 1963, and a Tony award nomination for the Broadway production of Oh, What A Lovely War! in 1964.
That was the year she married Ronnie Knight – who had already served time for handling stolen goods and who, with his brothers, was a noted friend of the Kray Twins and their circle. Barbara herself had a one-night stand with Reggie Kray and a longer fling with his brother Charlie.
During this marriage she had a much-publicised affair with Carry On co-star Sid James, and was devastated by his death in 1976.
Her marriage to Knight lasted until 1985, during which time he was linked to numerous high-profile crimes including being arrested for the murder of a man who himself had killed Knight’s brother David.
In 1984 Knight fled to the Costa del Sol amid links to a £6m robbery at a Security Express depot a year earlier. He would later get seven years for handing £300,000 in stolen cash.
Meanwhile Barbara divorced him and in 1986 wed chef Stephen Hollings in Jamaica.
The pair moved to Amersham, Bucks, and bought the Plough Inn to run together – an echo of her future EastEnders role – but the venture collapsed along with their marriage.
The pair divorced in 1995, a year after Dame Barbara’s EastEnders debut. Peggy Mitchell became the role she will be best-remembered for and won her a string of awards, including Best Actress at the 1999 British Soap Awards and a Lifetime Achievement in the 2009 version of the event.
She left for two years between 2003 and 2005, announced she would quit in 2009, but then returned for one-off 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, Barbara won the Outstanding Contribution Award at the TV Choice Awards. She was also awarded Best Exit at the Inside Soap Awards for her portrayal of Peggy’s death.
Her marriage to former actor Scott Mitchell in 2000 raised eyebrows – they met when she was 55 and him 28 – and she admitted herself people didn’t expect it to last.
But the pair became inseparable and it was he who stayed by her side during her battle with dementia – telling this morning how he didn’t leave her side in the final week of her life.
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
Dame Barbara played Peggy Mitchell (pictured) on BBC soap EastEnders from 1994 until she left for good in 2016
Barbara Windsor poses and smiles for the camera with Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly at the Bafta Awards in London in 2000
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 said.
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.
That same year, her husband – and former EastEnders co-stars – raised more than £150,000 by running the London Marathon in aid of a dementia campaign.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden described her as a ‘national treasure’. Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said that as MP for Elstree in north London, where Eastenders is filmed, he was ‘MP for Albert Square’.
The minister said she was the ‘greatest landlady Albert Square ever had… It is a really sad loss to our national life.’
Dame Barbara Windsor’s close friend Richard Arnold fights back tears as he reflects on his friendship with the screen icon following her death to Alzheimer’s
Good Morning Britain showbiz correspondent Richard Arnold fought back tears on Friday while reflecting on his friendship with the late Dame Barbara Windsor.
Arnold struggled to compose himself after being shown a four-year old interview with the British screen icon, whose death to Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 83 was confirmed by her husband Scott Mitchell on Thursday evening.
Looking back at the 2016 clip as he paid tribute to Dame Barbara, the visibly emotional 51-year old – who had previously described her as a ‘mate’ – choked up.
Emotional: Good Morning Britain showbiz correspondent Richard Arnold fought back tears on Friday while reflecting on his friendship with the late Dame Barbara Windsor
Face to face: The presenter met Dame Barbara for an interview ahead of the TV Choice Awards in 2016
‘That’s just beautiful,’ he said, fighting back tears. ‘God it’s been a long time since I’ve seen that.’
Charlotte Hawkins added: ‘The words that sum it up are ‘national treasure.’ She had a special place in all our hearts.’
Summing up the thoughts of many, Ben Shephard remarked: ‘She was the best of British. It’s a very sad loss.’
Arnold’s meeting with Dame Barbara ahead of the 2016 TV Choice Awards was especially poignant as it was filmed two-years after her diagnosis with Alzheimer’s – meaning she was already battling the degenerative condition.
Walford salutes its Queen: EastEnders stars Jessie Wallace, Adam Woodyatt, Steve McFadden and Patsy Palmer pay tribute to Barbara Windsor as she dies aged 83
Dame Barbara Windsor starred on EastEnders as pub landlady Peggy Mitchell on and off from 1994 to 2016 and was famous for her catchphrase: ‘Get outta ma pub!’
And her former castmates took to social media in their droves to pay tribute to the TV legend after learning she had passed away aged 83 following her battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Barbara died at 8.35pm on Thursday at a London care home, her husband Scott Mitchell, 57, confirmed.
‘It’s been a privilege and an honour’: EastEnders stars Jessie Wallace, (left) Adam Woodyatt, (right) Steve McFadden and Patsy Palmer pay tribute to Dame Barbara Windsor after she passed away following a battle with Alzheimer’s on Thursday
Heartfelt: Adam and Jessie both shared sweet comments alongside the pictured they posted with Barbara
Jessie Wallace, 49, who played Kat Slater wrote: ‘My darling Barbara. So heartbroken to hear you have left us. I love you.’
Adam Woodyatt, 52, whose character Ian Beale was once punched on the show by Peggy, called it an ‘honour and a privilege to have known Barbara, in a sweet Instagram post on Friday morning.
Sharing a photograph of them, he wrote: ‘I took this when Dame Barbara was filming her last episodes of EastEnders in 2016.
Tragic news: Dame Barbara, best known for her roles in EastEnders and the Carry On films passed away on Thursday, her husband Scott Mitchell confirmed (pictured in 2015)
Sad: A representative for Steve McFadden, who plays Dame Barbara’s on-screen son Phil Mitchell, said he was ‘devastated’ by her death as he led tributes for the beloved actress (pictured together at the NTAs in 2007)
‘I grew up watching Babs in the Carry On films and for me to then work with her it was a privilege and honour.
‘I have so many happy memories and moments that I will always cherish, even when Peggy floored Ian with a punch. My thoughts are with her amazing husband Scott, her family and friends. Rest in peace Barbara xxxx.’
A representative for Steve McFadden, who plays Dame Barbara’s on-screen son Phil Mitchell, said he was ‘devastated’ by her death as he led tributes for the beloved actress.
Patsy Palmer, 48, who played Bianca Jackson, wrote in the comments: ‘So so sad. Just thinking of us all in the reception when we all used to sit there!!!’
Love: Patsy Palmer, who played Bianca Jackson in the soap shared these images and wrote: ‘I’m sitting here thinking of the 100’s of memories we shared. Too many to comprehend. We were like family for a long time, ups downs , ins and outs but you will never meet a more professional actress than Babs
‘I’m so sad’: Patsy shared a long tribute to her good friend as she said she ‘always looked out for me’
She also shared some pictures of herself with Barbara on her own account and wrote: ‘Verified I’m extremely sad to hear that my friend ‘Dame’ Babara Windsor has passed away.
‘I’m sitting here thinking of the 100’s of memories we shared . Too many to comprehend. We were like family for a long time, ups downs , ins and outs but you will never meet a more professional actress than Babs.
‘@scott.mitchell3 You were the best husband she could’ve wished for. You deserve the highest accolade. We shared such magical times together and I’ll cherish every one.
Pam St Clement, 78, who played Peggy’s love rival, Pat Butcher, spoke about her on This Morning on Friday morning. She said: ‘Bless her she said to me, ‘please tell me if I’m not doing anything right,’ but she settled into that beautifully’
She said: ‘We’ve kept in close contact, he’s kept me up to speed with it. Nobody could visit her with the lockdown, it was impossible, it was sad in a sense which means I haven’t seen her in nearly in a year and that’s sad’
‘I can hear that laugh now as I sit and think about her. I hope it’ll ring in my ears forever. She always looked out for me and so did you . Love you both very much . I’m gutted ! I could say so much but I’m so sad. RIP BABS.’
Pam St Clement, 78, who played Peggy’s love rival, Pat Butcher, spoke about her on This Morning on Friday morning.
Soap icon Pam said she and Barbara used to hang the glasses on top of the bar and Barbara was quite small so she would wash up the glasses and they would wonder how she’d reach it.
She said: ‘Bless her she said to me, ‘please tell me if I’m not doing anything right,’ but she settled into that beautifully.
Much loved: Former EastEnders co-star Larry Lamb who played Archie Mitchell, her onscreen husband in the show paid tribute to a ‘tough and beautiful little lady’ on Friday.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: ‘She was definitely the head girl at EastEnders, she knew how to be the leading lady. The word star gets bandied about a bit these days but she really was a star’
She said Barbara’s husband Scott had been keeping her up to date with her health.
‘We’ve kept in close contact, he’s kept me up to speed with it. Nobody could visit her with the lockdown, it was impossible, it was sad in a sense which means I haven’t seen her in nearly in a year and that’s sad.’
Former EastEnders co-star Larry Lamb who played Archie Mitchell, her onscreen husband in the show paid tribute to a ‘tough and beautiful little lady’ on Friday.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: ‘She was definitely the head girl at EastEnders, she knew how to be the leading lady. The word star gets bandied about a bit these days but she really was a star.’
‘So grateful to have known you’: Danny Dyer, whose character, Mick Carter took over the Queen Vic, said there was ‘only one Dame in his eyes’
The actor said that Dame Barbara’s gratefulness she was given a role in the BBC soap always shone through.
He said: ‘We had lots of conversations that ranged over all sorts of subjects. I remember her saying the years in between were tough when she was trying to put together enough money to live off.
‘And it was really really hard because there were those lean years after the Carry On films and she was in the wilderness, and the one thing she never made any bones about was that Eastenders really changed her life and put her back on the map and gave her the means to earn a good living, and that’s what she went on to do.’
Danny Dyer, 43, whose character, Mick Carter took over the Queen Vic pub, wrote: Rest in Peace Babs. There is only one Dame in my eyes. So grateful to have known ya. You was a beautiful rare one. ❤️❤️❤️.’
Danniella Westbrook, 47, who played her onscreen daughter Sam Mitchell, said on BBC Breakfast on Friday: ‘She was the most feisty, hardworking woman I’ve ever met in my life.
‘I learned everything I know from her work-wise. She taught me how to listen. The woman was phenomenal.
‘She did pages and pages of learning and walked into the Queen Vic and it was like she was always meant to have been there.
‘She raised the game of the whole show.’
Martin Kemp, 59, who played Steve Owen, spoke to his son Roman, 27, on his Capital Radio Breakfast show,.
He said: ‘Yeah, I mean, I worked with her for a good couple of years in EastEnders and she was behind the bar and I used to sit there for hours talking to her, and I tell you why, because before I did EastEnders I had shot The Krays … and she used to be close to some of those, and to Reggie Kray, and she was absolutely – I can’t tell you – one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met.
‘She was one of life’s good people, and I find it really sad this morning. My heart goes out to Scott, who’s lost her, and just… I can’t tell you how nice she was Ro, she was just beautiful.’
Robert Kazinsky, 37, who plays Sean Slater, tweeted: ‘What a joy it was to have known and worked with her. To have her tell me to ‘Gerrout mah pub,’ to have shared so many chats on rainy days.
Tamzin Outhwaite, 50, who played Mel Owen, tweeted: ‘Meant to be sleeping but can’t…. RIP Barbara Windsor…’
Ricky J Norwood, 34, who played Fatboy, wrote: ‘RIP Barbara Windsor. Such sad news to wake up to. I was lucky enough to work with her on @bbceastenders.. full of energy,
‘Big smile, so warm and welcoming. Thank you x It meant a lot. Loved that you always had time for young actors and fans. Legend. We miss you already.’
Powerful: Danniella Westbrook, 47, who played her onscreen daughter Sam Mitchell, said on BBC Breakfast on Friday: ‘She was the most feisty, hardworking woman I’ve ever met in my life’
Barbara’s husband Scott described the EastEnders legend’s final weeks as ‘typical of how she lived her life’ and ‘full of humour, drama and a fighting spirit until the end’.
‘INCREDIBLE LOVE AND SUPPORT’: DAME BARBARA’S BRAVE BATTLE PUBLIC WITH ‘CRUEL’ ALZHEIMER’S
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.
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
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. At the end of their chat (pictured), Dame Barbara turned to the Prime Minister and asked: ‘Can I have a kiss?’
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
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.
Dame Barbara (pictured with Mr Mitchell at Downing Street in 2019) in was born Barbara Anne Deeks in Shoreditch, in 1937 to a fruit and veg cart seller and a dressmaker
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.
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
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.
Barbara (pictured as a child) was born in Shoreditch to a fruit and veg cart seller and a dressmaker
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.
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.
Barbara Windsor posing for a promotional photo in 1961 (left) and waving farewell before leaving London Airport for her first ever visit to the United States in 1963
Barbara Windsor in her dressing room preparing for her part in ‘Oh! What a Lovely War’ at the Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway, New York City, 6th November 1964
Composer Lionel Bart encouraging Barbara Windsor during dress rehearsals for Twang! in 1965
Starring in Carry on Camping in 1969 (left) and with co-star Sid James welcoming guests to a party for ITV’s Christmas performers at the New London Theatre
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.
Dame Barbara as Daphne Honeybutt in Carry On Spying in 1964 (right), and posing for a risque New Year Year shoot in 1969 (left)
Barbara Windsor in Carry on Again Doctor in 1969
Barbara Windsor in Carry on Doctor in 1968. Doctor Tinkle presides over the wards at Borough County Hospital, where patients, doctors and nurses alike all harbour hidden passions for each other. His stern demeanour is disrupted by the arrival of Nurse Sandra May (Dame Barbara), a young woman from his past who raises the blood pressure of the entire male hospital population. His underhand plots with the matron to dismiss one of the more popular doctors inspire, of all things, a patients’ revolt!
Barbara Windsor starring in Carry on Abroad in 1972
Barbara Windsor and Kenneth Williams in Carry on Doctor in 1968
Windsor with Sid James (left) and Bernard Bresslaw in Carry On Girls, 1973
Dame Barbara in Carry on Abroad
Dame Barbara starring in the risque Carry on Again Doctor film in 1969
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.
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
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 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.
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
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.
‘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.
Barbara Windsor (right) and Pam St Clement as they look back on the good old days to celebrate the 30th anniversary of EastEnders
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.
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.
Barbara Windsor and David Walliams during Matt Lucas & Kevin McGee – Civil Partnership – Reception in London
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
PEGGY MITCHELL’S ICONIC MOMENTS ON EASTENDERS
Breast cancer battle
The pint-sized publican battled breast cancer in 1996 and then again in 1999, when she decided to have a mastectomy.
Hundreds of viewers wrote to the BBC praising Dame Barbara and EastEnders for the way the difficult subject was tackled.
Peggy’s sharp tongue was not the only weapon in her arsenal – she also liked to give her enemies a good slap when she got really riled.
Several characters were on the receiving end over the years.
In 2000, Peggy discovered husband Frank Butcher (Mike Reid) was having an affair with his ex-wife Pat (Pam St Clement) and was planning to run away with her.
Peggy humiliated the couple in front of everyone in the Queen Vic by reading out a letter detailing their plan to flee.
‘One thing I’ve learned since I’ve been married to Mr Butcher is never underestimate his capacity to make a cock-up of things,’ she cried before slapping them both.
Dame Barbara during her time as Peggy Mitchell, landlady of the Queen Vic in BBC One’s long-running soap EastEnders
The baseball bat
Peggy had high hopes for a fun family Christmas after finding out about Frank and Pat but her plans went awry.
Alone in the pub, she took out her frustration on the fixtures and fittings, smashing it all up with a baseball bat.
Dame Barbara with Mike Reid as Frank Butcher in EastEnders
Peggy vs Chrissie
One of Peggy’s finest moments took place after her daughter Sam was framed for the murder of Den Watts (Leslie Grantham) by his wife Chrissie (Tracy-Ann Oberman).
When Peggy discovered the truth, she stormed to the graveside and screamed: ‘Chrissie Watts! Murderer!’
She then lunged at Chrissie and pushed her into her husband’s grave.
‘Tell Den you’re sorry! Tell Den!’ Peggy screeched.
Boris Johnson visits Walford
In 2009, Peggy went to speak to the Mayor of London about litter and when he did not turn up vowed she would ‘give him a piece of my mind’ if she ever saw him.
But soon afterwards Johnson wandered into the Vic and Peggy quickly changed her tune.
Appearing a little star-struck, she gushed: ‘I do so admire a man who devotes his life to serving society. I nearly went into politics myself, you know.’
In 2010, a crack-crazed Phil (Steve McFadden) torched the Queen Vic.
Peggy escaped but was devastated.
The blaze led her to take stock of her life and she decided to leave Albert Square.
‘Go on, I’ll be fine. Go on, darling, go back inside,’ she urged Phil, as she walked away.
Dame Barbara’s Peggy in a typical slanging match with Pam St Clement’s Pat Butcher in EastEnders. The pair were good friends in real life
In 2016, Peggy took an overdose after breaking the news to son Grant (Ross Kemp) that her cancer had returned and taken a ‘proper grip’ on her.
In a poignant final scene, after smelling cigarette smoke throughout the episode, Peggy hallucinated the return of her former love rival-turned-friend Pat Butcher (Pam St Clement), puffing away in thick pink lipstick and with ‘earrings rattling like Marley’s bleeding chains’.
Speaking to her friend, who passed away in the soap in 2012, Peggy said: ‘I’m being eaten alive and it hurts and I can’t wait.’
She added: ‘I will go as I have lived: straight back, head high, like a queen.’