EastEnders have paid tribute to the late Dame Barbara Windsor, by dedicating Friday’s episode to her.
The legendary star who played Peggy Mitchell, passed away at 83-years old on Thursday evening at a London care home, following a six-year battle with Alzheimer’s, her husband Scott Mitchell confirmed.
The BBC One soap aired at a later time following a tribute programme to the star and at the end of the episode, a black screen emerged with white text stating: ‘In loving memory of Dame Barbara Windsor MBE, 1937-2020.’
Honour: EastEnders paid tribute to the late Dame Barbara Windsor, who played Peggy Mitchell, by dedicating Friday’s episode to her after she passed away at 83-years old on Thursday
The channel aired the late star’s 2017 biopic at 7.35pm in place of the usual EastEnders slot, while the soap began at 9.05pm.
Bosses penned on the show’s official Instagram page: ‘In loving memory of Dame Barbara Windsor,@bbcone will dedicate tonight’s schedule to her. Babs will be shown at 7.35 pm followed by #EastEnders at 9.05 pm.’
Barbara remained a staple on the BBC soap for many years as the iconic Queen Vic landlady.
She arrived on the EastEnders set in 1994 and dipped in and out of the show for a number of reasons, first leaving in 2003 for two years due to a debilitating case of the Epstein-Barr virus, which put her out of action.
Tribute: The BBC One soap aired at a later time and at the end of the episode, a black screen emerged with white text stating: ‘In loving memory of Dame Barbara Windsor MBE, 1937-2020’
Once she was back to full health, she returned in the middle of 2005 on a one-year contract, which was then extended.
She then revealed in October 2009 that she was quitting the show, as she cited spending more time with her husband Scott, 57, as the reason. She subsequently returned for brief appearances in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
EastEnder’s actress June Brown spoke in honour of her dear friend on Friday as she emotionally recalled their last conversation.
The actress behind Dot Cotton, 93, remained in close contact with Barbara – even after her last appearance on the show – and spoke fondly of the time spent with her.
Icon: Barbara was a staple on the BBC soap as the Queen Vic landlady after debuting on Eastenders in 1994 and dipping in and out of the show until her last appearance in 2016
In an official statement she said: ‘I’m thinking of Babs as she was when she came in to EastEnders as Peggy Mitchell – tiny, bright, bubbly, pretty and friendly to everyone. She soon became loved by all the cast.
‘We became great friends. We had adjoining dressing room and she was always popping in for coffee, and we’d go to lunch together; she kept me up to date with all the gossip.
‘I wished we’d had more scenes together but our only one was in her last episode, when Dot said goodbye to Peggy, knowing that she was dying.’
She recalled the tragic moment when Barbara asked to visit her in their last phone call, and realising that it was too late.
June continued: ‘In our last phone call she asked me several times where I was – I finally said “I’m at home” and her comment was “I’d like to come to your home”, but it was too late for that.
Best friends: EastEnder’s actress June Brown spoke in honour of her dear friend on Friday as she emotionally recalled their last conversation
“At this time, I’m thinking of her very loving husband Scott, who has created a legacy for her by training to run marathons in her name, owing to her great popularity, to raise an enormous amount of money in aid of the charity Dementia Revolution.
‘They had such a happy marriage; they were like two children, always laughing together. While I’m still here, she’ll always be alive in my mind.’
A spokesperson from the BBC responded to her passing: ‘We are all deeply saddened that that we’ve lost our Dame.
‘From the moment Barbara stepped foot in Walford she created an icon in Peggy Mitchell, our formidable Landlady, who the audience instantly fell in love with but to all of us at EastEnders, she was our dearest friend who was truly loved and adored by everyone.
‘Our thoughts go out to Scott and Barbara’s family. Rest in peace Dame Barbara Windsor, MBE.’
Dame Barbara had no children, often saying she never regretted it because of the way she had been rejected by her own father, and spoke candidly about having five abortions in her life.
She is survived by her third husband who said his wife’s final weeks were ‘typical of how she lived her life’ and were ‘full of humour, drama and a fighting spirit until the end’.
Dearly missed: She is survived by her third husband Scott Mitchell, who confirmed her passing on Thursday following her six-year battle with Alzheimer’s