Back in 2017, to mark Dame Barbara Windsor’s 80th birthday, the BBC celebrated the much-loved EastEnders and Carry On star by with a special 90-minute biopic called ‘Babs’. And on Friday 11th December at 7:35pm, BBC One is running a repeat of the show to mark Windsor’s passing – so if you missed it the first time around, or if you want to watch it again, now’s your chance.
Windsor herself appears in the TV film, along with a collection of actresses who play younger versions of her at key points in her life – including Samantha Spiro and Jaime Winstone. Find out more about the key cast and characters below.
Barbara Windsor – Samantha Spiro
Older Babs reflects on her life from an empty theatre, while the ghosts of her loved ones pop up all around her. Alongside a vision of her estranged father, the cockney star comes to terms with her grief and success, and marvels at how the show would always go on despite personal pains.
What have I seen Samantha Spiro in before? Spiro has also played Barbara Windsor in the play ‘Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle and Dick’, and in the TV movie ‘Cor, Blimey!’. The double Olivier Award-winning actress also appeared in Game of Thrones as Melessa Tarly (Samwell’s mother), played Hazran in the Doctor Who episode ‘The Doctor Falls’, and started in Tracey Ullman’s Show and TRacey Breaks the News. Recently, she’s played Maureen Groff in Sex Education, guest-starred as Grace Calthorpe in Call the Midwife, and appeared as Kate in Semi-Detached.
Barbara Windsor – Jaime Winstone
Younger Barbara is the irresistible heroine of the show. Utilising her flirtatious charm, she builds a glittering career for herself, dreaming of seeing her name in lights. Constantly on the brink of glory, Barbara is let down by a series of good-for-nothing men, despite the fact she’s “got something” other actresses don’t have.
What have I seen Jaime Winstone in before? Following in the footsteps of her movie star dad Ray Winstone, Jaime is best-known for playing Becky in the film Kidulthood, but has also appeared in Made in Dagenham, After Hours, and hit teen romance Love, Rosie with Lily Collins. Since her role in Babs, she’s gone on to play Janet Sawbridge in the Christmas TV movie Torvill & Dean, and Pamela in Tomb Raider.
Barbara Windsor – herself
The real Barbara Windsor appears in the film, often to tut at her younger self’s naivety.
What have I seen Barbara Windsor in before? Dame Barbara was adored as Peggy Mitchell in Eastenders – “get outta my pub!” – a role she played for 25 years, but she left the show in 2016 when her character was killed off. She was also revered as the blonde bombshell in the Carry On films, with other credits including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Alice in Wonderland.
She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2014, a condition which was made public in 2018 less than a year after the Babs biopic was released. In August 2020, it was revealed that she had been moved into a care home as her health worsened. It was announced on 10th December 2020 that she had passed away.
Young Barbara Windsor – Honor Kneafsey
As the cheeky girl in pink who dazzles in a talent show, the teenage Barbara is pushed by her mother to pursue a showbiz career. But she crumbles when asked to testify against her father in her parents’ divorce proceedings.
What have I seen Honor Kneafsey in before? Aged just 12 at the time she filmed this role, Kneafsey had already appeared as the girl on the plane in the series finale of Sherlock in 2017, Benidorm (as Jodie Dawson), and the movies Miss You Already and Abducted. Since then, she’s gone on to play Princess Emily in Netflix’s A Christmas Prince movie and its sequels.
John Deeks – Nick Moran
Windsor’s turbulent relationship with her father is explored in great depth. His early departure from her life haunts her, and though he’s an angry, often violent man who never forgave Babs for her role in his divorce, she remains a daddy’s little girl.
What have I seen Nick Moran in before? He made his name in the ensemble of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, but more recently appeared as Scabior, a snatcher, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts I and II. He’s also had parts in a number of TV shows and movies including My Name is Lenny, Inside No 9, Shakespeare & Hathaway, and Stan Lee’s Lucky Man.
Joan Littlewood – Zoë Wanamaker
Cigarette-touting, sassy and experimental, Joan Littlewood was the first director not to bow down to Babs’ charm. Helping her on to Broadway, she warns Windsor against the Carry On films: “If you’re not careful, you’ll end up playing this sexy little blonde for the rest of your life.”
What have I seen Zoë Wanamaker in before? To many of us, she is Susan Harper from the BBC’s long-running sitcom My Family, but Wanamaker also boasts a long and successful career on the stage and screen. She’s worked extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company and appeared as Madame Hooch in Harry Potter. Over the last few years, we’ve seen her as Queen Antedia in Britannia, Helen Jacobson in Killing Eve, and Gail in Girlfriends.
Ronnie Knight – Luke Allen-Gale
Babs’s husband-to-be is married to another woman when they meet. After a stint in jail and a disappointing fry up, it becomes apparent that Ronnie is not the decent bloke he said he was.
What have I seen Luke Allen-Gale in before? He played William Whele in American apocalyptic TV series Dominon and has appeared in Wallander and Ripper Street. In ITV police drama Van der Valk, he played Brad de Vries.
Other cast includes…
- Charlie Archer as Scott Mitchell
- Leanne Best as Rose Deeks
- Florence Keen as Child Barbara
Babs airs on Friday 11th December at 7:35pm on BBC One. Check out what else is on with our TV Guide.