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Barbara Windsor

Barbara Windsor
File:Barbara Windsor Maryebone Tree.JPG
Windsor in 2010
Born Barbara Ann Deeks
(1937-08-06) 6 August 1937 (age 82)
Shoreditch, London, England
Nationality British
Occupation Actress
Years active 1950–present
Television EastEnders (1994–2010, 2013-15)
Spouse(s) Ronnie Knight
(m. 1964–85, divorced)
Stephen Hollings
(m. 1986–95, divorced)
Scott Mitchell (m. 2000)
Barbara Ann Deeks, MBE (born 6 August 1937),[1] known professionally as Barbara Windsor, is an English actress, best known for her appearances in the Carry On films and for playing Peggy Mitchell in the BBC One soap opera EastEnders.[2] She joined the cast of EastEnders in 1994 and won the 1999 British Soap Award for Best Actress. She left the show in 2010, before returning for one episode a year between 2013 and 2015.

Windsor began her career on stage at the age of 13 and made her West End debut in 1952. Her first film was The Belles of St Trinian's in 1954. She received a BAFTA Award nomination as Best British Actress for the 1963 film Sparrers Can't Sing, and a Tony Award nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Musical for the 1964 Broadway production of Oh, What A Lovely War!. Other stage roles include starring opposite Vanessa Redgrave in the 1972 West End production of The Threepenny Opera. Between 1964 and 1974, she appeared in nine Carry On films, including Carry On Spying (1964), Carry On Doctor (1967), Carry On Camping (1969), Carry On Henry (1971) and Carry On Abroad (1972). She also co-presented the 1977 Carry On compilation That's Carry On!, along with Kenneth Williams. Other film roles include A Study in Terror (1965), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) and as the voice of Dormouse in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010) and the upcoming Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016).


Born in Shoreditch, London in 1937,[3] the only child of John Deeks, a costermonger, and his wife, formerly Rose Ellis, a dressmaker, Windsor is of English and Irish ancestry.[4] She passed her 11-plus exams gaining a place at Our Lady’s Convent in Stamford Hill. Her mother paid for her to have elocution lessons, and she trained at the Aida Foster School in Golders Green, making her stage debut at 13 and her West End debut in 1952 in the chorus of the musical Love From Judy.

Her first film role was in The Belles of St Trinian's in 1954. She joined Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, coming to prominence in their stage production Fings Ain't Wot They Used to Be and Littlewood's film Sparrers Can't Sing in 1963, achieving a BAFTA nomination for Best British Film Actress. She also appeared in the 1964 film comedy Crooks in Cloisters, the 1968 film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and in the sitcoms The Rag Trade and Wild, Wild Women. In 1980, Windsor appeared as "Saucy Nancy" in the second series of the ITV children's show Worzel Gummidge, based on the best-selling books by Barbara Euphan Todd.[5]

Carry On films

Main article: Carry On films

Windsor came to real prominence with her portrayals of a 'good time girl' in nine Carry On films. Her first was Carry On Spying in 1964 and her final Carry On... film acting role was in Carry On Dick in 1974. She also appeared in several Carry On... television and compilation specials between 1964 and 1977.

One of her most iconic scenes was in Carry On Camping in 1969, where her bikini top flew off during outdoor aerobic exercises. In classic Carry On style, exposure is implied but little is in fact seen.[6]

From 1973 to 1975 she appeared with several of the Carry On team in the West End revue Carry On London! During this time she had a well-publicised affair with her co-star, Sid James.[7]

She was strongly identified with the Carry On films for many years, which restricted the variety of roles she was chosen to play later.

Theatre career

She also starred on Broadway in the Theatre Workshop's Oh, What a Lovely War! and received a 1965 Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. She also appeared in Lionel Bart's musical flop Twang! (directed by Joan Littlewood) and in the musical Come Spy with Me with Danny La Rue.

In 1970 she landed the role of music hall legend Marie Lloyd in the musical-biopic Sing A Rude Song. In 1972 she appeared in the West End in Tony Richardson's The Threepenny Opera with his then wife, Vanessa Redgrave. In 1975, she toured the UK, New Zealand and South Africa in her own show, Carry On Barbara!, and followed this with the role of Maria in Twelfth Night at the Chichester Festival Theatre.

In 1981 she played sex-mad landlady Kath in Joe Orton's black comedy Entertaining Mr Sloane at the Lyric Hammersmith, directed by her friend Kenneth Williams. She reprised the role for a national tour in 1993.[citation needed]


Main article: Peggy Mitchell

When the soap opera began in 1985, the producers said they would only cast unknown actors. The Shoreditch-born Windsor said that she regretted this, as she'd liked to have taken part.[8]

By 1994 this policy was relaxed, and Windsor was cast in the series. She took over the role of Peggy Mitchell (previously played by Jo Warne in 1991), for which she received the "Best Actress" award at The British Soap Awards in 1999 and a "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the same source in 2009.[citation needed]

A debilitating case of the Epstein-Barr virus forced a two-year absence from the role between 2003 to 2005.[citation needed], although Windsor was able to make a two episode appearance in 2004. She rejoined the cast in mid-2005, initially on a one-year contract, though this was later extended.

The Doctor Who episode "Army of Ghosts" broadcast on 1 July 2006 included a specially recorded clip featuring her appearing in character. She was seen telling the ghost of Den Watts to "get outta my pub!" In November 2005, as part of the BBC's Children In Need charity night, a Catherine Tate Show/EastEnders mini episode was broadcast. It featured Windsor as Peggy in the Queen Victoria Public House, being tormented by Catherine Tate's schoolgirl character Lauren Cooper.

In October 2009 Windsor announced she was to quit her role as Peggy Mitchell, saying she wanted to spend more time with her husband.[9] On 10 September 2010 her character left Albert Square after a fire at the Queen Victoria pub, of which she was the owner.[10]

In July 2013, it was announced that Windsor was to return for one episode, which aired on 20 September 2013.[11] She again returned for a single episode on 25 September 2014,[12] and made a further appearance for EastEnders 30th anniversary on 17 February 2015.[13] In February 2015, Windsor, alongside Pam St. Clement (Pat Butcher), took part in EastEnders: Back to Ours to celebrate 30 years of EastEnders. Windsor and Clement looked back on some of their characters' most infamous moments.

Recent years

Windsor provided the voice of the Dormouse in Walt Disney's 2010 live action adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, directed by Tim Burton. The cast of the film also included Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway.[14] Windsor appeared in the pantomime Dick Whittington at the Bristol Hippodrome over the Christmas/New Year period of 2010/2011.[15] On 8 September 2010 it was announced that Windsor will be fronting a TV campaign for online bingo site Jackpotjoy as the Queen of Bingo.[16] Since 2011 she has regularly stood in for Elaine Paige on her BBC Radio 2 show on Sunday afternoons between 1.00pm and 3.00pm but from 2014, Windsor was given her own series on the radio station called Ladies Of Song. She will reprise her voice role of Dormouse in the 2016 film Alice Through the Looking Glass.[17]

Relationships and personal life

Windsor has married three times:

  1. Ronnie Knight, Krays associate (married 2 March 1964,[18] divorced January 1985)
  2. Stephen Hollings, actor (married 12 April 1986 in Jamaica,[19] divorced 1995)
  3. Scott Mitchell, former actor and recruitment consultant (married 8 April 2000[20])

Before her marriage to Ronnie Knight, she had a one night stand with Reggie Kray.[21] While married to Knight, she had a well publicised affair with Sid James. During the 1960s, she also had a brief relationship with footballer George Best.[22]

In her 2001 autobiography, All of Me, Windsor talks about her five abortions, the first three of which took place before the age of 21, the last when she was 42. She has said that she never wanted children as a result of her father rejecting her.[23] In the book, she also states that she is a supporter of the Conservative Party.

Over the years Windsor has made her home in a variety of locations. Amongst them, Sunday Times photographer Michael Ward's autobiography records her as living in Grand Parade, Harringay, in the early 1960s.[24]

Windsor was appointed an MBE in the 2000 New Year Honours. In August 2010, she was given the Freedom of the City of London,[25] and in November 2010, she was honoured by the City of Westminster at a tree planting and plaque ceremony.[26][27] In 2012, she became a patron of the Amy Winehouse Foundation,[28] and in November 2014, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of East London.[29]


Carry On films

Year Film Role
1964 Carry On Spying Daphne Honeybutt
1967 Carry On Doctor Nurse Sandra May
1969 Carry On Camping Babs
Carry On Again Doctor Goldie Locks
1971 Carry On Henry Bettina
1972 Carry On Matron Nurse Susan Ball
Carry On Abroad Sadie Tomkins
1973 Carry On Girls Hope Springs
1974 Carry On Dick Harriet
1977 That's Carry On! Barbara

Other films

Year Film
1954 The Belles of St Trinian's
1955 A Kid for Two Farthings
1956 Lost
1959 Make Mine a Million
1960 Too Hot to Handle
1961 Flame in the Streets
On the Fiddle
1962 Death Trap
Hair of the Dog
1963 Sparrers Can't Sing
1964 Crooks in Cloisters
1965 San Ferry Ann
A Study in Terror
1968 Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
1971 The Boy Friend
1973 Not Now, Darling
1987 It Couldn't Happen Here
2001 Second Star To The Left
2010 Alice in Wonderland
2016 Alice Through the Looking Glass


Barbara Windsor has been active in the following theatre productions:[30]

  • Cinderella - Golders Green Hippodrome, London (1950)
  • Love From Judy - Saville Theatre, London, followed by tour (1952–54)
  • Many Happy Returns - Watergate Theatre, London (1955)
  • Cabaret performances - Côte d'Azur, Soho, London (1955)
  • Red Riding Hood - Shakespeare Theatre, Liverpool (1955/56)
  • Singer with Ronnie Scott's band (1956)
  • Variety at Winston's nightclub, Mayfair, London (1957–58)
  • Keep Your Hair On - Apollo Theatre, London (1958)
  • The Gimmick - toured to Leeds and Wolverhampton (1958)
  • Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be - Theatre Royal, Stratford (1959/60), then Garrick Theatre, both London (1960–62)
  • Oh! What a Lovely War - Broadhurst Theatre, New York City (1964)
  • Twang! - try-out at Palace Theatre, Manchester, then Shaftesbury Theatre, London (1965)
  • Come Spy with Me - try-outs at Theatre Royal, Brighton, New Theatre, Oxford and Golders Green Hippodrome, then Whitehall Theatre, London (1966–67)
  • The Beggar's Opera - Connaught Theatre, Worthing (1967)
  • The Wind in the Sassafras Trees - Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, followed by tour (1968)
  • Sing A Rude Song - Greenwich Theatre, then Garrick Theatre, both London (1970)
  • Cinderella - Theatre Royal, Norwich (1970/71)
  • Cinderella - Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool (1971/72)
  • The Threepenny Opera - Prince of Wales Theatre, then Piccadilly Theatre, both London (1972)
  • The Owl and the Pussycat - toured to Bath, Richmond and Sheffield (1972)
  • Cinderella - Odeon Theatre, Golders Green, London (1972/73)
  • Carry On London! - try-out at Birmingham Hippodrome (1973), then Victoria Palace Theatre, London (1973–75)
  • Carry On Barbara! and A Merry Whiff of Windsor - tours of Australia, New Zealand, UK and South Africa (1975)
  • Aladdin - Richmond Theatre (1975/76)
  • Twelfth Night - Festival Theatre, Chichester (1976)
  • Aladdin - Alhambra Theatre, Bradford (1976/77)
  • Aladdin - Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham (1977/78)
  • Dick Whittington - Ashcroft Theatre, Croydon (1978/79)
  • Calamity Jane - British tour (1979)
  • Dick Whittington - Richmond Theatre (1979/80)
  • Jack and the Beanstalk - Theatre Royal, Newcastle upon Tyne (1980/81)
  • Entertaining Mr Sloane - Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, London (1981)
  • The Mating Game - summer season at Grand Theatre, Blackpool (1981)
  • Aladdin - Theatre Royal, Nottingham (1981/82)
  • The Mating Game - British tour (1982)
  • Aladdin - New Theatre, Oxford (1982/83)
  • The Mating Game - summer season at Floral Hall, Scarborough (1983)
  • Aladdin - Festival Theatre, Chichester (1983/84)
  • The Mating Game - summer season at Jersey Opera House (1984)
  • Dick Whittington - Orchard Theatre, Dartford (1984/85)
  • What a Carry On in Butlins! (1985)
  • Aladdin - Theatre Royal, Nottingham (1985/86)
  • Dick Whittington - Beck Theatre, Hayes (1986/87)
  • Babes in the Wood - London Palladium (1987/88)
  • Guys and Dolls - British tour (1988)
  • Babes in the Wood - Churchill Theatre, Bromley (1988/89)
  • The Mating Game - summer season at Pier Theatre, Bournemouth (1989)
  • Cinderella - Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage (1989/90)
  • Cinderella - Wimbledon Theatre, London (1990/91)
  • Guys and Dolls - Theatre Royal, Plymouth, followed by tour (1991)
  • Aladdin - Derngate Theatre, Northampton (1991/92)
  • Wot a Carry On in Blackpool! - North Pier Theatre, Blackpool (1992)
  • Cinderella - Theatre Royal, Brighton (1992/93)
  • Entertaining Mr Sloane - Churchill Theatre, Bromley, followed by tour (1993)
  • Aladdin - Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage (1993/94)
  • Aladdin - The Anvil, Basingstoke (1994/95)
  • Cinderella - Orchard Theatre, Dartford (1995/96)
  • Dick Whittington - Bristol Hippodrome (2010/11)


  1. ^ "In Pictures: Barbara Windsor at70" August 2007, BBC News
  2. ^ " Ten Things You Never Knew About Barbara Windsor" Digital Spy May 23, 2007
  3. ^ GRO Register of Births: SEP 1937 1a 176 STEPNEY - Barbara A. Windsor, mmn = Ellis
  4. ^ BBC - Who Do You Think You Are? - Past Stories - Barbara Windsor
  5. ^ "Full cast of Wurzel Gummidge". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 30 August 2014. 
  6. ^ Ross, Robert; Collins, Phil (2002), The Carry on companion (40 ed.), Batsford, p. 80, ISBN 978-0-7134-8771-8 
  7. ^ The Daily Mail (online edition), Todd, Ben, 9 October 2010
  8. ^ Hibbin, Sally and Nina Hibbin. What a Carry On: The Official Story of the Carry On Film series, Hamlyn, 1988. ISBN 0-600-55819-3 p. 43
  9. ^ "Actress Windsor Quits EastEnders". United Kingdom: BBC News. 28 October 2009. Archived from the original on 10 November 2009. Retrieved 3 December 2009. 
  10. ^ Connolly, Lucy (30 September 2010). "Babs: I'll never return to Enders". The Sun (London). Retrieved 1 October 2010. 
  11. ^ "Barbara Windsor in EastEnders 'special episode' return". BBC News. 9 July 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  12. ^ "EastEnders spoilers: Peggy Mitchell returns - "I hope it was a nice surprise," says Barbara Windsor". Radio Times. 25 September 2014. Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  13. ^ "BBC News Barbara Windsor to return for EastEnders 30th anniversary". BBC Online. 8 December 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  14. ^ New Alice in Wonderland images, BBC Newsbeat
  15. ^ "Barbara Windsor signs on to panto". BBC News. 31 March 2010. 
  16. ^ Barbara Windsor to Front Jackpotjoy Bingo TV Ad Campaign.
  17. ^ "Alice in Wonderland". E. 5 August 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  18. ^ GRO Register of Marriages: MAR 1964 5e 828 EDMONTON - Ronald J. Knight = Barbara A. Windsor
  19. ^ Windsor, Barbara (2000). All of Me: My Extraordinary Life. Headline Book Publishing. ISBN 0-7472-7007-4. 
  20. ^ GRO Register of Marriages: APR 2000 258 284 WESTMINSTER - Scott Mitchell = Barbara A Windsor
  21. ^ Kray's deathbed secrets revealed | UK news | The Guardian
  22. ^ "Barbara Windsor: My secret flings with George Best and a Bee Gee" 8 October 2010, Daily Mail
  23. ^ "Barbara Windsor: Body of evidence". London: The Guardian. 1999-03-15. Retrieved 2008-08-14. 
  24. ^ Mostly Women: A Photographer's Life, Michael Ward, Granta, 2006, ISBN 978-1-86207-849-9
  25. ^ "Barbara Windsor given freedom of the City of London". BBC News. 4 August 2010. 
  26. ^ BARBARA WINDSOR'S PEAR TREE 5 November 2010, YouTube
  27. ^ Barbara Windsor completes the planting of new trees on Weymouth Street[dead link] Marylebone Association web site, Thursday, 11 November 2010
  28. ^ "Barbara Windsor And Amy Winehouse Had A Secret Friendship", Amy Winehouse official website, accessed 28 January 2013.
  29. ^ Babbage, Rachel (20 November 2014). "Barbara Windsor: 'One day I'll say yes to EastEnders return' - EastEnders News - Soaps - Digital Spy". Digital Spy. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  30. ^ "It's Behind You - Spotlight On Barbara Windsor". Retrieved 2012-06-09. 

External links

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