Barbara Windsor is bow out of EastEnders forever later this year when Peggy Mitchell loses her battle with cancer.
The upcoming scenes, which are set to air in the spring, have been in the planning stages since last summer after Windsor told soap bosses that she wanted to close the door on EastEnders for good.
Talking about her decision to leave Peggy behind, the actress said: “Everyone knows I love EastEnders and that will never change. Peggy is a character close to my heart, but I made the decision a while ago that I need to say goodbye to Peggy once and for all as otherwise she will always be there, urging me to go back and that is something I need to shut the door on.
“After thinking long and hard about it, I realised that it is time for me and the audience to say our final farewells to the lady who I have loved for many years and I thought that whilst the guvnor [executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins], who I adore, is still in charge I want him to be the one to oversee it.
“I am grateful that Dominic has accepted my decision and together, since late last summer, we have been secretly plotting Peggy’s last scenes.”
The former Queen Vic landlady was seen in last night’s episode telling drunk son Phil that her cancer had returned and that she was dying.
On what lies ahead for the storyline, Treadwell-Collins commented: “Barbara is the real guvnor of EastEnders. So when she told me her decision back in the summer, we both had a little cry before getting excited about how Peggy Mitchell, the matriarch to end all matriarchs, could bid her final farewell to Albert Square.
“In Peggy Mitchell, Barbara has created one of the greatest ever characters on British television, someone who has become as synonymous with EastEnders as the Queen Vic itself. So this is the end of an EastEnders era. But it is also an opportunity to send Peggy Mitchell out in style in what will be one of the most heartbreaking, uplifting and epic exits an EastEnders character has ever had.”
“We can’t wait to have Barbara back at EastEnders, even if it is for the final time. The most professional of professionals on set and off, and a true friend, we have all been working harder than ever to make Barbara and Peggy Mitchell proud.”
Barbara Windsor’s association with EastEnders dates back to 1994 and despite originally departing in 2010, she has made periodic reappearances, most memorably during the soap’s 30th anniversary in February 2015.
The actress, who first shot to fame in the Carry On movies during the 1960s, was recently revealed to be receiving a damehood 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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