Showbiz legend Barbara Windsor, who died last week, graced our screens as Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders on and off for 22 years. She established herself as Queen of the Vic almost as soon as she set foot in Walford back in 1994.
Enders superfan Jess Newbold picks her top five moments that made Peggy one of the most iconic characters to come out of EastEnders.
“Crack a smile, Shirl”
Peggy, Pat and a bottle of vodka in an ice cream van parked in a hospital car park is my fave Peggy scene of all time. In my opinion it was worth that episode alone was worth the TV licence fee for the whole year. Barbara had great comedic timing and me, along with the rest of the nation, were in hysterics watching the frenemies get drunk and high on E numbers. And then, the one liner when Phil and Shirley turned up was priceless and ingenious.
Tormenting Mark Fowler
Peggy showed her nasty side when she reacted badly to the news that Mark Fowler was HIV positive. She spread gossip around the Square, causing Mark to suffer abuse, and people to boycott his fruit and veg stall. But Peggy was nothing if not willing to learn and when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she saw the error of her ways. She apologised to Mark, and the pair eventually struck up a supportive friendship.
Fireworks on Bonfire Night
I was only five when this legendary episode aired, but I remember the famous Pat, Peggy and Frank showdown in the Vic vividly. Barbara gave an Oscar-worthy performance, giving us the fierce Peggy we all knew with just a raw hint of vulnerability. We got the Peggy who was furious but also the Peggy that had been cheated on.
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Even 20 years on this scene remains as poignant as ever and Peggy saying, “hope you all enjoyed the fireworks” to the gobsmacked drinkers in the pub, is a line all Enders fans remember
Peggy was a fan of giving a slap, so woe betide anyone who got on the wrong side of her. Best friend/sworn enemy Pat was most frequently on the receiving end of Peg’s slaps. Everyone remembers the scene in Pat’s house where they were shouting : “You bitch!”
It was the perfect way to sum up their relationship and only those two could have pulled it off. It was funny and dramatic at the same time. Viewers were laughing at them, but feeling the tension just the same.
When it was announced Barbara was leaving EastEnders, we all were expecting a big dramatic exit. The build up to Peggy’s departure was huge and unforgettable as Phil, high on drugs, set fire to The QueenVic. Peggy stood outside the pub, and screamed: “Let it burn!” She made us all cry then, but the following day’s episode moved us all even more. Peggy walking away down the market to Julia’s theme was such a fitting ending for a character who’d become part of EastEnders history. One of the most iconic exits from the show, brilliant in its simplicity and beauty.