Tributes flood in for beloved star Dame Barbara Windsor: ‘The unofficial Queen of England’

Actor died aged 83 at a London care home 

Annabel Nugent
Friday 11 December 2020 08:00
Dame Barbara Windsor dies aged 83

Tributes have been pouring in for Dame Barbara Windsor following news of the beloved veteran actor’s death.

The actor – who has been remembered as a “national treasure” and “the unofficial Queen of England" by her peers – died aged 83 on Thursday night (10 December) at a London care home.

Her death was announced by her husband Scott Mitchell, who issued a statement reading:“It is with deep sadness that I can confirm that my darling wife Barbara passed away at 8.35pm on Thursday 10 December at a London care home.

“Her passing was from Alzheimer’s/dementia and Barbara eventually died peacefully and I spent the last seven days by her side.”

Windsor’s EastEnders castmates have led the tributes so far. 

Patsy Palmer – who portrayed character Bianca Jackson on the show – shared a photograph of the two together on Instagram. 

She wrote: “I’m extremely sad to hear that my friend ‘Dame’ Barbara Windsor has passed away. I’m sitting here thinking of the 100’s of memories we shared.

“Too many to comprehend. We were like family for a long time, ups downs, ins and outs but you will never meet a more professional actress than Babs.”

Palmer went on to commend Mitchell as “the best husband she could’ve wished for”.

Fellow EastEnders star Tamzin Outhwaite, who played Mel Owen in the hit soap, tweeted: “Meant to be sleeping but can’t ... RIP Barbara Windsor ... legend icon #nationaltreasure friend heroine”. She added: “All I can hear is ‘Ello darlin’ #ripbarbara.”

Speaking to the Press Association, a representative for Steve McFadden (who portrayed Windsor’s on-screen son Phil Mitchell) said the actor was “devastated” by Windsor’s death.

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Little Britain’s Matt Lucas also shared his respects on social media, tweeting: “You don’t become a Dame by accident. Everyone knew Barbara Windsor and everyone loved her.”

“She delighted us on stage and sparkled on screen in a long and illustrious career,” he wrote. “She also worked tirelessly for charity, and continued to do so, even when her own health was failing her.”

Lucas also applauded Windsor’s husband for being “utterly selfless and heroic in caring for her” before concluding: “She was a remarkable woman and it’s not an overstatement to say I think the whole country is in mourning today.”

Lucas’s Little Britain co-star David Walliams echoed the same sentiment, praising Windsor as the “unofficial Queen of England, an icon for over half a century and treasured by the nation”.

TV presenter Jonathan Ross tweeted: “Barbara Windsor in real life was everything you might have hoped for. So warm, so funny, so kind. Goodnight sweetheart x BarbaraWindsor.”

Doctor Who actor John Barrowman shared a video of himself paying tribute to Windsor, who he said had “the biggest, biggest heart in the business”.

“In the 30-odd years of my career I’ve had many, many occasions where I’ve been in company with Barbara – or, as everyone just called her, ‘Babs’ – and she will be sorely missed," said Barrowman. 

“We all knew that she wasn’t in great health, but it’s still a shock when it comes. Rest in peace, Dame Barbara Windsor. You will be sorely missed,” he added.

Comedian David Baddiel called Windsor “a genuine national treasure”, while DJ Tony Blackburn tweeted: “So sorry to hear Barbara Windsor has passed away, a lovely lady who was always such fun. RIP Babs.”

One of Britain's most beloved entertainment stars, Windsor first found fame in her role in the bawdy-humoured Carry On films and later became a household name playing Peggy Mitchell, the Queen Vic's embattled matriarchal landlady in BBC soap EastEnders.

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 TV 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, she announced she would be leaving the soap again in order to spend more time with her husband Scott, who she married in 2000.

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