Peggy Mitchell will take her own life with a fatal pills overdose in EastEnders this week reports suggest.
Peggy – played by Barbara Windsor on and off for 22 years – has terminal cancer and will die alone despite asking her son Phil (Steve McFadden) to be there at the end, according to The Sun.
“She’s Peggy Mitchell, she’s never just sit and wait to die. It feels right she should wrestle back control and die on her own terms.” – EastEnders source
It was first hinted that Peggy would pre-empt the outcome of her illness in Thursday (12 May) night’s episode when – in response to his fears over how her illness will progress – she told Phil “Cancer’s not having the last word. I am.”
On Friday (13 May) – after a boat trip on the River Thames with Phil which led them to their old home – the matriarch asked him to be there with her at the end: “I’m tired and I’m hurting, but please believe me when I say that I know what I’m doing. I need you to help me darling. I want you there with me.”
The Sun’s source notes that Peggy will hallucinate in her final scenes amid rumours that her dear friend and one-time enemy Pat Butcher (Pam St. Clement) could be making a cameo appearance from beyond the grave in her dying moments.
“Her final scene is incredibly emotional.” – The source added
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 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.
Peggy made her final return to Walford on Monday (9 May) and has since decided to stop having chemo after learning the cancer has spread to her brain. The matriarch will pass away on Tuesday 17th May after paying a final visit to the Queen Vic – whose bar she stood behind for many years – and being reunited with her son Grant (Ross Kemp).
Peggy 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, 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.
Her 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.
Peggy was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time in 1996, with the disease recurring in 1999 leading to her having a mastectomy. 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 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. Speaking to Richard Arnold on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, she revealed that she asked to be killed off to avoid ‘watering down the part’ in reference to her cameo appearances of recent years.
“Barbara really gives the performance of a lifetime. I think she’s absolutely, absolutely stunning. And her last episode…will break your heart. Genuinely break your heart. We’ve been sobbing in the edit suite. It’s magic.” -Recently-departed EastEnders Executive Producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins, who is responsible for Peggy’s exit, speaking backstage at the BAFTA Television Awards 2016
The beeb is celebrating the character of Peggy with a night of specials with her final episode to be preceded by a special edition of The One Show from Albert Square and followed by a featurette on BBC iPlayer celebrating all things Peggy Mitchell.
Previous sufferers of illness to take their own life in soap include Coronation Street‘s Hayley Cropper, Emmerdale‘s Jackson Walsh and Alice Dingle, EastEnders‘ Ethel Skinner and Brookside‘s Gladys Charlton.