Barbara Windsor


The words “National Treasure” are overused to the point of meaninglessness these days – see any news report on the Nolan Sisters – but there can be no doubt from the breadth, depth and genuine sadness in the vast tributes how fond the British public were of Dame Barbara Windsor.

Having survived a horrible childhood, Barbara Windsor was expelled by her convent school for appeaaring in a pantomine. This was a sign of the stubborn independent streak that was to follow her career, hardened by her parents marriage collapse in her teens when she was forceable used as a witness in the court proceedings and then blamed by both parents. Despite, or possibly because of this she was on the West End stage by the age of 15, and made her film debut as a school girl in The Belles of St Trinians aged 17. By her 20s she was working with the acclaimed Joan Littlewood’s theatre, and had a BAFTA nomnination on his CV for Sparrows Can’t Sing, where she plays one half of an acrimonious split.

In the 1960s, she gained mass fame with her role in nine of the Carry On films. The most famous scene is in Carry on Camping when a bit of outdoors aerobic exercising leads to Windsors character’s bra flying off. The films gave her fame and money, but Windsor felt it came with a price: she struggled to get the good acting roles she was gaining at the start of the 1960s. A tumultuous love life that involved exs including one BeeGees, two of the Krays, one wife beater and Sid James may not have helped, in the same way that sort of thing didn’t harm Richard Burton at all.

In the 70s and 80s she worked on a variety of stage productions from Orton to Tony Richardson. However, one role she coveted was a spot in Eastenders, and so when she was offered the role of Peggy Mitchell, Queen Vic owner and mother to the infamous Mitchell brothers, she jumped at the chance. For twenty five years she became a TV regular, playing a hard nosed independent woman that many of her friends claim wasn’t that far off the real person. Her catch phrase “Get outta my pub!” became oft imitated in pop culture and was recently voted the third most popular character in the shows history behind Dirty Den and his ever suffering daughter Sharon.

In 2016, she decided to publicly leave the role, with the show killing off Peggy in a huge TV event. Windsor claimed the character needed to die or she’d keep on playing her. She didn’t mention the dementia which she had been diagnosed with in 2014, waiting until 2018 when her family could no longer hide it from the press.

She is the 17th death on this years Drop 40.

Barbara Windsor
6 August 1937 – 10 December 2020
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