Actress Barbara Windsor is permanently leaving the soap, and she’ll be missed.
Dame Barbara Windsor is permanently leaving her iconic role of EastEnders’ Peggy Mitchell so this month Soap World is taking a trip down memory lane to relive this feisty character’s biggest and best moments.
THE MIGHTY MATRIARCH OF THE QUEEN VIC
In 1994, Peggy made a dramatic entrance when she stormed into Walford to referee the brutal feud exploding between her sons following Phil’s (Steve McFadden) scandalous affair with Grant’s (Ross Kemp) wife Sharon (Letitia Dean). Blaming Sharon for the family friction, Peggy banished her from the Mitchell fold, forcing Sharon to relinquish her shares of The Queen Victoria pub to the Mitchell family. With Sharon out of the way, Peggy became landlady of the famous watering hole and coined her famous catchphrase “Get outta my pub!” whenever she needed to evict a patron.
A BATTLE WITH BREAST CANCER
Peggy faced an extremely challenging health crisis in 1998 after detecting a lump in her breast. Her fledgling romance with businessman George Palmer (Paul Moriarty) hit the skids as Peggy struggled to cope with the diagnosis. She dumped George, not wanting him to stay with her out of pity, but after undergoing a lumpectomy and being given the all-clear, she and George reconciled and got engaged. But Phil exposed his moneylaundering crimes, prompting Peggy to end the relationship. Tragically, Peggy’s breast cancer returned with a vengeance in 1999 to disrupt her new romance with car dealer Frank Butcher (Mike Reid). Engaged to Frank, Peggy considered cancelling the wedding but reconsidered after undergoing a life-saving mastectomy.
Devastated by Frank’s desertion, Peggy fell into a deep depression, developing an addiction to tranquillisers to cope with her mental anguish. Taunted by Frank’s ruthless daughter Janine (Charlie Brooks) on Christmas Day, Peggy went on a drunken bender, smashing up the pub with a baseball bat before recovering.
SAVING PHIL & SAYING GOODBYE TO PAT
Maternal instincts overwhelmed Peggy in September 2013 after she learned that Phil had been seriously injured in a car crash with his bitter rival Carl White (Daniel Coonan) who wanted to steal the Mitchell empire. Returning to town, Peggy visited a defeated Phil’s hospital bedside to urge him to fight Carl for the family’s honour. After succeeding, Peggy visited Albert Square with a special gift for an old friend. Having been unable to visit Pat or attend her funeral following her death from terminal cancer in January 2012, Peggy visited Pat’s house, left a bottle of their favourite gin on her doorstep and bid a tearful farewell to her rival-turned-friend. Afterwards, she returned home to Portugal.
THE END IS NEAR
Once again trying to contact his daughter Louise (now-Tilly Keeper), an alcoholic Phil visited Peggy’s sister Sal (Anna Karen) in January 2016 to demand the girl’s address. Stunned to discover Peggy in residence, Phil learned she’d returned to England a week earlier and drunkenly tore shreds off her, blaming her for his miserable childhood and the messes he’d made throughout his adult life. Shell-shocked, Peggy finally quieted him down by tearfully shouting at him that she had her own problems. Her breast cancer had recurred and this time it was terminal; she only had months to live. Unable to face her son’s rage at being kept in the dark, Peggy shut herself in a bedroom until Phil slumped away to process the news.