Barbara Windsor has returned to EastEnders this evening, her character Peggy Mitchell telling son Phil that she has terminal cancer.
Windsor – who was last seen on the BBC1 soap during its 30th anniversary in February 2015 – broke the bad news to Phil, little knowing that his own health is on the line thanks to cirrhosis of the liver.
Peggy was revealed to be living with her sister Sal and, despite remaining largely silent throughout the duration of the episode, the former Queen Vic landlady eventually told her drunken son, “The cancer’s back – I’m dying”.
Peggy has, of course, had the disease before, having battled breast cancer in 1996. At the time, Windsor’s performance drew critical plaudits as Peggy was seen coming to terms with having a mastectomy.
The revelation of Peggy’s diagnosis will inevitably raise questions about a possible comeback for actor Ross Kemp, whose character Grant Mitchell (currently living in the Algarve) was referenced on several occasions during tonight’s instalment.
Speaking last October, Kemp himself said: “Everyone wants to know about EastEnders, and at the moment I don’t know, so I can’t really say anything. There has been rumours and I have never said that I wouldn’t go back.”
Barbara Windsor’s latest comeback follows the announcement in December 2015 that she is to be made a Dame for services to charity and entertainment.
“I’m just thrilled that they’ve honoured me,” she said to the BBC. “I’ll do my best to be a very good Dame – and I don’t mean in pantomime.”
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