Jaime Winstone is to play British film and TV icon Dame Barbara Windsor in a new BBC1 drama series charting her life, with Samantha Spiro taking on the role of the actress in her later years.
Winstone will play the Carry On and EastEnders star during her 20s and 30s, with Spiro picking up in her mid-50s. Two child actors will also appear in the part.
Meanwhile, Dame Barbara herself will make a cameo appearance in the 90-minute drama.
“It is a complete honour to play Dame Barbara Windsor,” said Winstone, who has been seen most recently in Sky1’s After Hours and Mad Dogs. “It is a role I have manifested for years and am so excited to step into her national treasure shoes! I have always been a huge fan of Barbara and to be able to play her throughout this stage in her life is gonna be very special. I can’t wait to start filming.”
Spiro, who has already played Windsor in the 1998 stage play Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle and Dick and in the television production of Cor Blimey!, added: “It’s absolutely thrilling to be playing Barbara again. Tony Jordan has written a beautiful celebration of her life, but it’s not your usual biopic, lots of surprises! She is so adored, so I hope we get it right and that Barbara herself loves it!”
Babs is created by Tony Jordan, a former lead writer on EastEnders – in which Windsor starred until her character Peggy Mitchell died earlier this year – and the man behind BBC1’s slick crime caper series Hustle and police drama Holby Blue.
Dame Barbara said of the drama: “I am truly thrilled to know that the BBC have secured two such talented and established actresses to portray me in their new biopic of my life. Sam Spiro has already proved herself playing me on stage and TV to great acclaim, as well as, having her own incredible career. Sam will now be playing me at a later time in my life which will be a new challenge for her and one she will undoubtedly achieve. And then to be lucky enough to have one of today’s current dynamic actresses playing the younger me fills me with such excitement, especially knowing that it is Jaime Winstone. Boy am I a lucky lady!”
The drama will take viewers on a 50-year journey, from 1943 to 1993, via the people and events that have shaped Windsor’s life and career. It will include her lonely childhood and evacuation during the Second World War, her complicated relationship with her father, her marriages, and her big break as the cheeky blonde bombshell in the Carry On films.
Babs starts shooting soon and will air next year.