Actress Barbara Windsor dies aged 83
- Credit: Anwar Hussein/EMPICS Entertainme
Dame Barbara Windsor, best known for her roles in the Carry On films and EastEnders, has died aged 83.
The actress first found fame in her role as a buxom blonde in the Carry On films and later became a household name playing Peggy Mitchell, the Queen Vic's battle-axe landlady in BBC soap EastEnders.
Dame Barbara was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2014 and made the news public four years later.
She died at 8.35pm on Thursday at a London care home.
Paying tribute, her husband Scott Mitchell said the cherished actress's final weeks were "typical of how she lived her life" and "full of humour, drama and a fighting spirit until the end".
He said: "Her passing was from Alzheimer's/dementia and Barbara eventually died peacefully and I spent the last seven days by her side.
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"Myself, her family and friends will remember Barbara with love, a smile and affection for the many years of her love, fun, friendship and brightness she brought to all our lives and the entertainment she gave to so many thousands of others during her career.”
Mr Mitchell, who alongside his wife campaigned for greater dementia care from the government, added: "Dementia/Alzheimer's remains the UK's number one killer. "Although in challenging times, I urge the prime minister, his government and other parties to be true to their previous promises and invest more into dementia/Alzheimer's research and care.
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"Thank you to all the doctors, nurses and carers who are angels at the care home for your kindness and care to Barbara and I throughout her stay with you. You are my heroes.
"And my gratitude to our family, friends and everyone in the media and the general public for all the good wishes and warm support that has been shown to Barbara over the last few years during her illness. Barbara deeply appreciated that."
At the end of his moving tribute, Mr Mitchell said: "May you rest in peace now my precious Bar. I've lost my wife, my best friend and soul mate and my heart or life will never feel the same without you.”
While taking part in the BBC programme Who Do You Think You Are, which aired in 2006, Dame Barbara uncovered that her great-great-great-grandfather Golding Deeks, a bricklayer, was born in Bures, Suffolk, in 1806.
It turned out that the name Golding was his mother’s maiden name, and that it was a family tradition to give a boy his mother’s surname as his Christian name.
Three days of research by staff at the Suffolk Public Records Office in Bury St Edmunds revealed that the Goldings were distantly related to one of Britain's most famous painters, John Constable.
The connection to the creator of The Haywain and Flatford Mill was found in documents from the 1650s.
Dame Barbara made her debut as Peggy in 1994 and soon became one of the small screen's best-loved characters as she yelled at rogue drinkers to "get outta my pub!".
The character left our screens in 2003 when Dame Barbara took a sabbatical for medical reasons after being diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr virus, but she returned as a series regular in 2005.
In 2009, Dame Barbara announced she would be leaving the soap again in order to spend more time with her husband Scott, who she married in 2000.
She returned for cameo appearances in the soap over the next few years but in 2016 she played Peggy for the final time.
Her final scenes aired in May that year as the Walford stalwart took her own life after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Born in Shoreditch, London, in 1937, Dame Barbara launched her showbiz career early, making her stage debut at 13 and her West End debut in 1952.
Before becoming synonymous with Albert Square, Dame Barbara delighted Carry On fans with her portrayals of a "good time girl," appearing in nine films in a series known for its bawdy humour.
She first appeared in Carry On Spying in 1964, with her final film role coming in 1974's Carry On Dick.
One of Dame Barbara's most famous scenes was in 1969's Carry On Camping, when her bikini top flew off in the middle of an exercise class.
The actress was made a dame in the 2016 New Year's Honours list for her services to charity and entertainment.