Barbara Windsor’s heartbreaking final episode of EastEnders has aired on BBC1, with co-star Pam St Clement making an emotional return for Peggy’s last moments.
The Mitchell matriarch was seen taking her own life with an overdose of pills while a vision of old sparring partner Pat promised not to leave her side.
The touching scene also gave a nod to classic EastEnders episodes as the pair reminisced about their drunken antics in an ice-cream van and their long history of physical spats.
Sarah Phelps’s understated and tender script ends Windsor’s 22-year association with the soap that helped rejuvenate her career when she took on the role of Peggy in 1994.
Ross Kemp was also seen making a comeback as Peggy’s son Grant, sharing the screen with Windsor and co-star Steve McFadden for the first time in a decade.
True to form, Grant was involved in a punch-up with sibling Phil and a flirtation with ex-wife Sharon before departing Walford once again.
However, the actor-turned-documentary-maker will return for a further three-week stint as Grant later this summer.
But tonight’s 35-minute special belonged to Windsor’s Peggy who, in the face of a diagnosis of terminal cancer, chose to go out with her “head held high like a queen”.
Following a valedictory tour of her beloved Queen Vic and a rapprochement with long-time nemesis Sharon, Peggy decided to call time for good as the credits rolled in silence over an aerial shot of Albert Square.
Speaking recently about Peggy’s exit, executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins commented: “Maybe it sounds a bit arrogant, but I know what I’m doing with this. We’re not doing it because I’m going or to be sensationalist or to get viewers.
“I love and respect Barbara and I want to give Peggy Mitchell the exit she deserves. Because she’s one of the best TV matriarchs of all time.”
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of EastEnders below.
And visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.