Windsor in 2010
Barbara Ann Deeks
6 August 1937
|Known for||Role of Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders (1994-2010, 2013-2016)|
|Net worth||£9 million (2018)|
(m. 1964; div. 1985)
(m. 1986; div. 1995)
Dame Barbara Windsor, (born Barbara Ann Deeks; 6 August 1937) is an English retired actress, known for her appearances in the Carry On films and for playing Peggy Mitchell in the BBC One soap opera EastEnders. She joined the cast of EastEnders in 1994 and won the 1999 British Soap Award for Best Actress, before ultimately leaving the show in 2016 when her character was killed off.
Windsor began her career on stage in 1950 at the age of 13 and made her film debut as a schoolgirl in The Belles of St Trinian's (1954). She received a BAFTA Award nomination for the film Sparrows Can't Sing (1963), and a Tony Award nomination for the 1964 Broadway production of Oh, What A Lovely War!. In 1972, she starred opposite Vanessa Redgrave in the West End production of The Threepenny Opera. Between 1964 and 1974, she appeared in nine Carry On films, including Carry On Spying (1964), Carry On Doctor (1967), Carry On Camping (1969), Carry On Henry (1971) and Carry On Abroad (1972). She also co-presented the 1977 Carry On compilation That's Carry On!. Along with Jim Dale, she is one of the last surviving regulars of the series.
Her other film roles include A Study in Terror (1965), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), and as the voice of Mallymkun, The Dormouse in Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016).
Windsor was born in Shoreditch, London, in 1937 (her birth was registered in Stepney), the only child of John Deeks, a costermonger, and his wife, Rose (née Ellis), a dressmaker. The family lived in Angela Street. Windsor is of English and Irish ancestry. In 1939 the family went to live with relatives in Yoakley Road, Stoke Newington, where Windsor attended St Mary's Infants' School in nearby Lordship Road. She was evacuated to Blackpool during the war. On her return in 1944 she attended William Patten School in Church Street. After the war she passed her 11-plus exams and earned a scholarship for a place at Our Lady's Convent in Stamford Hill. Her mother paid for her to have elocution lessons, and she trained at the Aida Foster School in Golders Green, making her stage debut at 13 and her West End debut in 1952 in the chorus of the musical Love From Judy which ran for two years. She took the stage name Windsor in 1953, inspired by the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Television work soon poured in with her first series of Dreamer's Highway, The Jack Jackson Show and Six-Five Special.
Her first film role was in The Belles of St Trinian's released in 1954. She joined Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, coming to prominence in their stage production Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be and Littlewood's film Sparrows Can't Sing (1963), achieving a BAFTA nomination for Best British Film Actress. She also appeared in the film comedy Crooks in Cloisters (1964), the fantasy film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) and in the sitcoms The Rag Trade and Wild, Wild Women.
Windsor came to prominence with her portrayals of a "good time girl" in nine Carry On films. Her first was Carry On Spying in 1964 and her final Carry On... film acting role was in Carry On Dick in 1974. She also appeared in several Carry On... television and compilation specials between 1964 and 1977.
One of her most iconic scenes was in Carry On Camping in 1969, where her bikini top flew off during outdoor aerobic exercises. In classic Carry On style, exposure is implied but little is in fact seen.
She was strongly identified with the Carry On films for many years, which restricted the variety of roles she was chosen to play later in her career.
Windsor starred on Broadway in the Theatre Workshop's Oh, What a Lovely War! and received a 1965 Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. She also appeared in Lionel Bart's musical flop Twang!! (directed by Joan Littlewood) and in the musical Come Spy with Me with Danny La Rue.
In 1970 she landed the role of music hall legend Marie Lloyd in the musical-biopic Sing A Rude Song. In 1972 she appeared in the West End in Tony Richardson's The Threepenny Opera with Vanessa Redgrave. In 1975, she toured the UK, New Zealand and South Africa in her own show, Carry On Barbara!, and followed this with the role of Maria in Twelfth Night at the Chichester Festival Theatre.
In 1981 she played sex-mad landlady Kath in Joe Orton's black comedy Entertaining Mr Sloane at the Lyric Hammersmith, directed by her friend Kenneth Williams. She reprised the role for a national tour in 1993.
When EastEnders was launched in 1985, the producers said they would not cast well-known actors (Wendy Richard being a rare exception). Windsor has said that she would have liked to have been part of the original cast. By 1994 this policy was relaxed, and Windsor accepted an offer to join EastEnders. She took over the role of Peggy Mitchell (who was previously a minor character played by Jo Warne in 1991), for which she received the Best Actress award at the 1999 British Soap Awards, and a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2009 British Soap Awards.
A debilitating case of the Epstein-Barr virus forced a two-year absence from the role between 2003 and 2005, although Windsor was able to make a two-episode guest appearance in 2004. She rejoined the cast full-time in the summer of 2005. In October 2009, Windsor announced she was to leave her role as Peggy Mitchell, saying she wanted to spend more time with her husband. On 10 September 2010 her character left Albert Square after a fire destroyed the Queen Victoria pub, of which she was the owner.
In July 2013, it was announced that Windsor was to return for one episode, which aired on 20 September 2013. She again returned for a single episode on 25 September 2014, and made a further appearance for EastEnders 30th anniversary on 17 February 2015. In February 2015, Windsor, along with Pam St. Clement (Pat Evans), took part in EastEnders: Back to Ours to celebrate 30 years of EastEnders. Windsor and St. Clement looked back on some of their characters' most dramatic moments.
In November 2015, Windsor secretly filmed a return to EastEnders, which was shown in January 2016. After this, it was confirmed that the character would be killed off later in the year. This was Windsor's decision, as she said that as long as Peggy was alive, she would always be drawn back to playing her. Her last appearance aired on BBC One on 17 May 2016.
Windsor provided the voice of the Dormouse in Walt Disney's live action adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland (2010), directed by Tim Burton. Windsor appeared in the pantomime Dick Whittington at the Bristol Hippodrome over the Christmas/New Year period of 2010/2011. In September 2010, it was announced that Windsor would be fronting a TV campaign for online bingo site Jackpotjoy as the Queen of Bingo. She appeared as herself in one episode of Come Fly with Me in January 2011.
From 2011 onwards, she regularly did presenting work for BBC Radio 2 music and showbusiness history programmes, and also was a regular stand in for Elaine Paige on Elaine Paige on Sunday. She reprised her voice role of the Dormouse in the film Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016).
In May 2017, Windsor appeared in a cameo role as herself in the BBC television film, Babs, written by EastEnders scriptwriter Tony Jordan. It showed Windsor in the 1990s as she prepares to go on stage and recalls events from her life, including her childhood, marriage to gangster Ronnie Knight, and her roles in the Carry On films.
Windsor has been married three times, and has no children.
Before her marriage to Ronnie Knight, she had a one-night stand with notorious East End gangster Reggie Kray, and a longer affair with his older brother Charlie Kray. Between 1973 and 1976, whilst married to Knight, she had a much publicised affair with Carry On co-star Sid James. Another of Windsor's Carry On co-stars, Kenneth Williams, accompanied her and Knight on their honeymoon.
In her 2000 autobiography, All of Me, Windsor talks about her five abortions, the first three of which took place in her twenties and the last when she was 42. She has said she never wanted children as a result of her father rejecting her after her parents' divorce.
Windsor was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2000 New Year Honours. In August 2010, she was given the Freedom of the City of London, and in November 2010, she was honoured by the City of Westminster at a tree planting and plaque ceremony.
In April 2014, Windsor was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and she elected not to make the condition public, but it was known to her friends and colleagues. On 10 May 2018, Windsor's husband, Scott Mitchell, publicly revealed her condition. In January 2019, Mitchell and some of Windsor's former co-stars from EastEnders announced that they would be running the London Marathon in aid of a dementia campaign. Mitchell said that Windsor's health and mental state had been deteriorating, and there had been moments when she no longer recognised him.
On Windsor's 82nd birthday in August 2019, she and Mitchell became ambassadors for the Alzheimer's Society. On the same day, Mitchell and Windsor appeared in a video for the charity, in which Windsor said, "Unite with me, against dementia". Mitchell highlighted the problems many face with the disease, and urged viewers to sign a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, saying he "urgently needs to address these challenges."
|1964||Carry On Spying||Daphne Honeybutt (codename Brown Cow)|
|1967||Carry On Doctor||Nurse Sandra May|
|1969||Carry On Camping||Babs|
|Carry On Again Doctor||Goldie Locks (real name Maud Boggins)|
|1971||Carry On Henry||Bettina|
|1972||Carry On Matron||Nurse Susan Ball|
|Carry On Abroad||Sadie Tomkins|
|1973||Carry On Girls||Hope Springs (real name Muriel Bloggs)|
|1974||Carry On Dick||Harriet|
|1977||That's Carry On!||Barbara Windsor|
|1954||The Belles of St Trinian's||Schoolgirl||Uncredited role|
|1955||A Kid for Two Farthings||Blonde with a Crush on Sam|
|1956||Lost||Young Girl in Chemist|
|1959||Make Mine a Million||Switchboard operator|
|1960||Too Hot to Handle||Ponytail|
|1961||Flame in the Streets||Girlfriend||Uncredited role|
|On the Fiddle||Mavis|
|1962||Hair of the Dog||Elsie Grumble|
|Death Trap||Babs Newton|
|1963||Sparrows Can't Sing||Maggie|
|1964||Crooks in Cloisters||Bikini|
|1965||San Ferry Ann||Hiker Girl|
|A Study in Terror||Annie Chapman|
|1968||Chitty Chitty Bang Bang||Blonde|
|1971||The Boy Friend||Hortense|
|1973||Not Now, Darling||Sue Lawson|
|1987||It Couldn't Happen Here||Seaside landlady / Neil's mother|
|2001||Second Star to the Left||Babs||Voice role|
|2010||Alice in Wonderland||Mallymkun|
|2016||Alice Through the Looking Glass|
|1954-1955||Dreamer's Highway||2 episodes|
|1958||On with the Show||Uncredited role|
|1961||Armchair Theatre||Miss Gibbon||Episode: "His Polyvinyl Girl"|
|1961-1963||The Rag Trade||Gloria/Judy||23 episodes|
|1962||The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre||Babs Newton||Episode: "Death Trap"|
|A Christmas Night with the Stars||Gloria||The Rag Trade segment|
|1963||The Plane Makers||Marlene||Episode: "Any More for the Skylark?"|
|1964||Comedy Playhouse||Cynthia Spooner||Episode: "The Hen House"|
|1967||Before the Fringe||2 episodes|
|1968-1969||Wild, Wild Women||Millie||All 7 episodes|
|1968||Dad's Army||Laura la Plaz||Episode: "Shooting Pains"|
|1968||Ooh La La!||Chiquette||2 episodes|
|1969||The Rolf Harris Show||Maid Marion||Episode #3.12|
|Carry on Christmas||Cinderella/Fanny/Spirit of Christmas Present|
|1970||Comedy Playhouse||Polly||Episode: "Meter Maids"|
|Up Pompeii!||Nymphia||Episode: "Guess Who's Coming to Sin'Er Nymphia"|
|Carry on Christmas||Jim Hawkins|
|1972||Carry on Christmas||Milk Maiden/Eve/Maid/Miss Clodhopper/Aladdin|
|1973||Ooh La La!||The Shrimp||Episode: "The Lady from Maxims"|
|The Bob Monkhouse Offensive||Stripper|
|Carry on Christmas||Virginia/Crompet/Fanny/Fifi/Ballerina/Lady Frances|
|1975||Carry On Laughing||Vera Basket||Episode: "The Prisoner of Spenda"|
|Marie||Episode: "The Baron Outlook"|
|Sarah||Episode: "The Sobbing Cavalier"|
|Lady Miranda||Episode: "Orgy and Bess"|
|Maisie||Episode: "The Nine Old Cobblers"|
|Lottie||Episode: "The Nine Old Cobblers"|
|Episode: "Who Needs Kitchener?"|
|Lady Mary||Episode: "Lamp-Posts of the Empire"|
|1977||The Punch Review||Various||Episode #1.3|
|Come Spy with Me||Mavis Apple|
|1980||Worzel Gummidge||Saucy Nancy||4 episodes|
|1987||Filthy Rich & Catflap||Mum||Episode #1.1|
|Super Gran||Ethel||Episode: "Supergran and the Heir Apparent"|
|1988||The Management||Aunty Vicky||3 episodes|
|Terry in Pantoland|
|1989||Norbert Smith: A Life||Greenham Women's Leader|
|Bluebirds||Mabel Fletcher||6 episodes|
|1990||Family Fortunes||Fairy||Episode: "Celebrity Christmas Special 2"|
|1991||You Rang M'Lord?||Myrtle||2 episodes|
|1992||Double Vision||Snow Queen Boss|
|1993||The Great Bong||Mabel|
|1994-2010, 2013-2016||EastEnders||Peggy Mitchell||Series regular, 1,562 episodes|
|1994||Pussy in Boots||Wandawoman|
|1995||One Foot in the Grave||Millicent||Episode: "The Affair of the Hollow Lady"|
|1999||The Nearly Complete and Utter History of Everything||Highwayman Robbery Victim|
|2000||Cor, Blimey!||Barbara Windsor|
|2001||Second Star to the Left||Babs||Voice role|
|2006||Doctor Who||Peggy Mitchell||Episode: "Army of Ghosts"|
|2010||EastEnders: Farewell Stacey|
|2011||Little Crackers||Shop Assistant||Episode: "My First Brassiere"|
|2016||EastEnders: The Last Goodbye||Peggy Mitchell|
|2017||Babs||Barbara Windsor||Television film|
Windsor has performed in the following theatre productions: