The beeb is marking Dame Barbara Windsor’s final appearance as EastEnders‘ Peggy Mitchell with a special edition of The One Show.
The magazine show, presented by Alex Jones and Matt Baker, will be broadcast live from Albert Square, just before Peggy’s last episode later this month.
In an extensive interview, Dame Barbara will talk about joining EastEnders, her memories of iconic moments and how much the soap has meant to her. In a One Show first, viewers are urged to stay tuned until the end to see the actress introduce her final ever episode.
“It was wonderful to meet my all-time favourite EastEnders character. She was very welcoming and we had a fascinating chat about her long and fabulous career, on and off the square.
“Dame Barbara and Peggy certainly share the same warmth and infectious laugh! She is a living showbiz legend and although it will be sad to say goodbye to Peggy, Matt and I hope that we will continue to see Dame Barbara on our screens for a long time yet.” – Alex Jones
A special featurette – Peggy Mitchell: Last Orders – will be available on BBC iPlayer following the episode. The featurette goes behind the scenes of filming, while past and present cast members share their views on soap icon Peggy Mitchell. Among those interviewed for the online exclusive are Dame Barbara Windsor, Ross Kemp and Steve McFadden.
Dame Barbara Windsor announced in January that she was drawing a line under her iconic character, noting at the time:
“Everyone knows I love EastEnders and that will never change. Peggy is a character close to my heart but I made the decision a while ago that I need to say goodbye to Peggy once and for all as otherwise she will always be there, urging me to go back and that is something I need to shut the door on. After thinking long and hard about it, I realised that it is time for me and the audience to say our final farewells to the lady who I have loved for many years and I thought that whilst the guvnor, who I adore, is still in charge I want him to be the one to oversee it. I am grateful that Dominic has accepted my decision and together, since late last summer, we have been secretly plotting Peggy’s last scenes.”
On-screen Peggy made a brief return to the soap and revealed to son Phil (Steve McFadden) that her cancer has returned and is terminal with the beeb noting that further episodes featuring the actress, her last ever, would transmit in late spring.
The meddling Mitchell matriarch and long-time Queen Vic landlady has been at the centre of numerous high-profile storylines in the BBC One soap since Barbara’s first appearance in the role in 1994.
These include her marriage to Frank Butcher (Mike Reid) and fury after discovering his affair with ex-wife Pat (Pam St. Clement), her grudge against Sharon (Letitia Dean) for cheating on Grant with his brother Phil, her battle with breast cancer and her marriage to manipulative former brother-in-law Archie (Larry Lamb) which resulted in her losing the Queen Vic.
Peggy’s outspoken views have sometimes caused offence in the Square including, in 1996, when she publicly exposed Mark Fowler’s HIV+ status and barred him from the Vic, while her feud with Pat led to a surprising friendship and popular double act in the serial.
The character was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time in 1996, with the disease recurring in 1999 leading to a mastectomy for Peggy. The emotional scenes saw Barbara pick up an award for Best Actress at the British Soap Awards. In 2010 Peggy feared her cancer had returned but it was a false alarm.
Barbara originally played the role of Peggy between 1994-2010 and has since made a number of one off returns to the saga; including during the 30th anniversary live week last year.
EastEnders airs Dame Barbara Windsor’s final episodes as Peggy Mitchell later this month. A trailer can be seen below.