Channel 5 is to celebrate the life and work of EastEnders and Carry On star Barbara Windsor.

Queen of the Vic in EastEnders, Barbara as landlady Peggy Mitchell.

There really is nothing like a Dame, especially Dame Barbara Windsor, with her naughty giggle and saucy wiggle, the real-life east end girl has become a national treasure through seven decades of stage, television and big screen appearances.

In a new Channel 5 documentary viewers will be able to look back on the life and career of Barbara, who is best known in recent years for her long running role as Peggy Mitchell in BBC One saga EastEnders.

To mark the year of her 80th birthday, co-stars and friends of the actress have united to celebrate the former Carry On movie star. Those taking part in the programme include EastEnders co-stars June Brown, Ross Kemp and Pam St Clement as well as Bernard Cribbins and Michael Sheen.

Carry On Laughing, the ATV series starred many of the big screen Carry On stars. Barbara is pictured with Jack Douglas (left) and Bernard Bresslaw (right).

Tarzan and Jane, Cliff Richard and Barbara perform a comedy sequence for ATV’s Saturday Spectacular show in the 1960s.

Born Barbara Ann Deeks, she discovered showbiz at an early age when she realised she enjoyed performing to an audience. Although excelling at school, and proving a popular on their stage, she nearly decided to follow another career route – as a nun. However the lure of the spotlight was too much; she changed her name and joined a London revue show as a dancing girl.

This lead into various other performance work on stage, before being cast in the 1964 comedy movie Carry On Spying. It would be the first of eight films she would feature in as part of the Carry On team. Windsor would also team up with fellow Carry On stars for the mid-1970s ATV Elstree produced series Carry On Laughing which aired on ITV.

Barbara and Sid James in a scene from the big screen comedy Carry On Dick.

Carry On Team: Charles Hawtrey, Kenneth Williams, Hattie Jacques, Sid James, Joan Sims, Jim Dale and Barbara Windsor.

Barbara’s life has been as interesting off screen, from her friendship with the notorious Kray twins and fiery first marriage to local ‘bad boy’ Ronnie Knight, to her wilderness years in the early 1980s; when she ended up touring in summer seasons alongside then more ‘well known’ names such as Kathy Staff from Last of the Summer Wine. There were happier years when she enjoyed a close friendship with actor Kenneth Williams and her once secret affair with Bless This House actor Sid James.

In 1980 she recorded comedy series Both Ends Meet with Pauline Quirke, for ATV, however the series was canned – not one episode aired. Barbara thereafter spent most of decade telly wise making occasional celebrity appearances on game shows such as LWT’s Punchlines or chat shows such as Thames TV’s Des O’Connor Tonight. Her small screen acting career was given a life-line in 1994 when the BBC offered her the role of Peggy in EastEnders, the feisty matriarch of the Queen Victoria Public House in the fictional London borough of Walford. Barbara left the soap as regular in 2010 before finally saying a last farewell to Albert Square in 2016 when the character was killed off. The Story of Barbara Windsor airs on Channel 5 next month.

“Across the years, she’s made us laugh and cry, and after a lifetime of keeping us royally entertained Barbara was finally rewarded with a well deserved dame hood in 2016.” – Channel 5

Barbara recently saw her life story told in BBC One drama ‘Babs’.
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