‘Irrepressible’ British actress Barbara Windsor dies aged 83

FILE PHOTO: Fans photograph actress Windsor as she arrives for British Academy Television Awards at the Palladium theatre in London
FILE PHOTO: Fans photograph actress Barbara Windsor as she arrives for the British Academy Television Awards at the Palladium theatre in London May 20, 2007. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

December 11, 2020

LONDON (Reuters) – Barbara Windsor, one of Britain’s most popular actresses and best known for her roles as pub landlady Peggy Mitchell in the BBC TV soap “EastEnders” and in the bawdy “Carry On” films, has died aged 83.

Windsor, a household name in Britain known simply as “Babs”, died at a care home in London on Thursday night, her husband Scott Mitchell said.

“Her passing was from Alzheimer’s/Dementia and Barbara eventually died peacefully and I spent the last seven days by her side,” he said in a statement. “It was not the ending that Barbara or anyone else living with this very cruel disease deserve.”

Windsor had been diagnosed with the disease in 2014 and last year presented Prime Minister Boris Johnson with a petition calling for more investment in dementia treatment.

Johnson said Windsor was so much more than a great pub landlady and “Carry On” star.

“I think she’s one of those people who just cheered you up and cheered everybody up, because she had a kind of irrepressible naughtiness,” he said.

“Whenever she went into a room – she did a lot of good work for charity and looking after lonely and vulnerable people – she lit up people’s faces.”

Heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles said she was “a great British actor and tireless charity campaigner who will be deeply missed”.

The actress was born Barbara Deeks but changed her name to Windsor shortly after making her West End debut in 1952.

Her first film role came two years later in “The Belles of St Trinian’s”, and she achieved fame in many of the innuendo-laden “Carry On” comedy movies of the 1960s and 70s.

She joined “EastEnders” in 1994 as the matriarch of the Mitchells and, apart from a sabbatical for medical reasons in 2003, was a mainstay of the long-running soap until 2009.

She said at the time that the role as Peggy Mitchell, which saw her famously shouting “Get outta my pub” at startled locals, had changed her life.

Windsor was given the title of dame by Queen Elizabeth in 2016.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Frances Kerry)