Tributes pour in for Dame Barbara Windsor after her death aged 83

11 December 2020, 00:18 | Updated: 11 December 2020, 09:08

Dame Barbara Windsor has died aged 83
Dame Barbara Windsor has died aged 83. Picture: PA Images

By Maddie Goodfellow

Tributes have poured in for "true icon" Dame Barbara Windsor following her death aged 83 after a battle with Alzheimer's.

One of Britain's most beloved entertainment stars, she 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.

Her husband Scott Mitchell confirmed the tragic news, saying that she died in a London care home at 8.35pm on Thursday evening.

In a moving tribute, Mr Mitchell called her his "precious Bar" and said: "I've lost my wife, my best friend and soulmate and my heart or life will never feel the same without you."

Mr Mitchell said in a statement: "It is with deep sadness that I can confirm that my darling wife Barbara passed away at 8.35pm on Thursday 10th December at a London Care Home. Her passing was from Alzheimer's/Dementia and Barbara eventually died peacefully and I spent the last 7 days by her side.

"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."

Dame Barbara and her husband Scott Mitchell campaigned for better funding for Alzheimer's research
Dame Barbara and her husband Scott Mitchell campaigned for better funding for Alzheimer's research. Picture: PA Images

His statement continued: "Barbara's final weeks were typical of how she lived her life. Full of humour, drama and a fighting spirit until the end.

"It was not the ending that Barbara or anyone else living with this very cruel disease deserve. I will always be immensely proud of Barbara's courage, dignity and generosity dealing with her own illness and still trying to help others by raising awareness for as long as she could.

"Dementia/Alzheimer's remains the UKs 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.

Barbara Windsor was best known for her roles in the Carry On films and Eastenders
Barbara Windsor was best known for her roles in the Carry On films and Eastenders. Picture: PA Images

"Thank you to all the Drs, 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.

"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.

"I will be making no further statements and now need the time to grieve this painful, personal loss".

Dame Barbara was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2014 and made the news public in 2018.

Both Dame Barbara and her husband campaigned to raise awareness of Alzheimer's following her diagnosis.

Boris Johnson, who met Dame Barbara through her dementia campaigning, tweeted: "So sad about Barbara Windsor, so much more than a great pub landlady & Carry On star. She campaigned for the lonely and the vulnerable - and cheered the world up with her own British brand of harmless sauciness & innocent scandal.

"Thoughts with Scott and all her family & friends."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: "RIP Dame Barbara Windsor. A true national icon, and an inspirational campaigner on dementia."

London Mayor Said Khan said: "Saddened to hear the news about Barbara Windsor this morning, who I had the pleasure to meet through her work as a Team London ambassador.

"She was a brilliant force — a fierce Londoner, full of humour, with a passion for fighting for the vulnerable. She will be greatly missed."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: "Barbara Windsor was a national treasure and her death is a huge loss.

"Her acting brought a smile to people across Britain and she showed incredible courage after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

"The country's thoughts are with Scott and the family."

Tributes from stars and celebrities have also poured in for the acting legend, with many recalling encounters with her and describing her as "one of a kind".

Dame Floella Benjamin tweeted that she "brought so much joy to the nation" and was saddened to hear the news.

Singer and broadcaster Aled Jones also paid tributing, tweeting: "RIP Dame Barbara Windsor a true national treasure! X #oneofakind"

The star made many friends over the course of her life and acting career, amassing huge respect in the entertainment world.

Veteran DJ Tony Blackburn added to the kind messages, saying Dame Barbara was "a lovely lady and "was always such fun".

Blue singer Duncan James paid tribute to Dame Barbara Windsor following news of her death.

He tweeted: "So sad to hear about Barbara Windsor passing. She was truly a British icon and may she rest in peace."

Former Labour MP and broadcaster George Galloway tweeted: "Dame Barbara Windsor passing brings a dismal year to nearly a close. She was a national Treasure which is still something to be. May she rest in peace. #BarbaraWindsor".

Outlander star Colin McFarlane said he had met Dame Barbara, whom he described as a national treasure, "several times".

He tweeted: "More sad news for 2020. Met this national treasure several times. Always so down to earth & humble. Alzheimer's is such a cruel disease. At least she will now be at peace. Sending healing thoughts to her nearest & dearest. Rest well #BarbaraWindsor".

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".

Comedian David Baddiel paid tribute on Twitter, saying: "RIP the very lovely, very funny Barbara Windsor. What a genuine national treasure she was."

Actress Danniella Westbrook, who played Dame Barbara's on-screen daughter Sam Mitchell on EastEnders, tweeted: "MY HEART IS BROKEN .Bar you will always br in my heart forever. Good bye , I LOVE YOU XXX RIP Barbara WINDSOR."

Patsy Palmer, who played Bianca Jackson on EastEnders, has shared a moving tribute to Dame Barbara on Instagram.

Alongside pictures of the pair together, as well as a photograph of a young Dame Barbara, Palmer said: "I'm extremely sad to hear that my friend 'Dame' Babara 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, 48, also praised Dame Barbara's husband, Scott Mitchell.

She wrote: "@scott.mitchell3 You were the best husband she could've wished for . You deserve the highest accolade. We shared such magical times together and I'll cherish every one . I can hear that laugh now as I sit and think about her . I hope it'll ring in my ears forever.

"She always looked out for me and so did you . Love you both very much . I'm gutted ! I could say so much but I'm so sad . RIP BABS."

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!".

It became the defining role of her career and saw her star alongside Ross Kemp and Steve McFadden as her fictional sons Grant and Phil, with the late Mike Reid as her on-screen husband Frank Butcher.

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.

Dame Barbara was known by many for her role in Eastender as the fiery Peggy Mitchell
Dame Barbara was known by many for her role in Eastender as the fiery Peggy Mitchell. Picture: PA Images

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.