Barbara Windsor bids final farewell to Queen Vic

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The Independent Culture

Landlady Peggy Mitchell gazes in despair at the charred remains of her beloved Queen Vic tonight - after her memories and livelihood went up in smoke.

The resilient pub boss, played by Barbara Windsor, last night survived the inferno, but tonight she will be seen bowing out of Albert Square to make a fresh start on her own.



Viewers watched with bated breath as Peggy's crack addict son Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) torched the boozer.



As terrified punters evacuated the pub in last night's edition, Peggy risked her life to dash back into the flame-engulfed bar to rescue her son.



She and Billy Mitchell (Perry Fenwick) managed to drag Phil out of the Vic with just seconds to spare just before an explosion rocked the Square. As fire fighters arrived on the scene, she said of her boozer: "Let it burn."



In tonight's episode, Peggy makes the toughest decision of her life - to leave her family behind and stand on her own two feet.



The instalment also sees Peggy pay a visit to Stacey Branning (Lacey Turner), who survived the blaze as well.



Armed with the knowledge that Stacey killed Archie Mitchell, Peggy tries to persuade the young mum to take the blame for starting the fire.



Peggy's exit brings the curtain down on Windsor's Albert Square career, which began 16 years ago.



During her time in the show, mouthy matriarch Peggy battled breast cancer, and married both Frank Butcher and Archie Mitchell, all the while being fiercely protective of her three children.



And her tenure at the Vic transformed the actress from a bikini-busting Carry On star into a national treasure.



A reworked version of the EastEnders theme tune, called Peggy's Theme, will be played as she bids farewell to the soap.



Last year, Windsor, now 73, announced her decision to leave the show, saying she wanted to spend more time with her husband Scott Mitchell.



Her future projects include the role of Fairy Bowbells in a pantomime of Dick Whittington in Bristol.



A survey by Viagogo today found that fans would love to see the actress return to her saucy roots by starring in cheeky stage show Calendar Girls.



Peggy's final episode will be broadcast on BBC One at 8pm tonight and will be followed by EastEnders Revealed - Peggy Mitchell, Queen of the Vic at 8.40pm.

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