With the recent news that Barbara Windsor declined to take part in ITV’s recent Easter retrospective of the Carry On films, we thought that it was a good time to have a look back over her illustrious career in entertainment.
Born in Shoreditch in 1937, Barbara Windsor overcame inauspicious beginnings to be trained at the prestigious Aida Foster Theatre School that gave her the springboard into her show business career.
Early successes included a starring role in the highly popular 1954 comedy The Belles of St Trinians where she quickly made a name for herself as a ‘good time girl’.
This led to her highly iconic roles in the British Carry On series of films. With nine appearances in the movies between 1964 and 1974, she became a fixture on the London show business circuit, becoming romantically linked with high profile names such as Reggie Kray, George Best and her Carry On co-star Sid James.
The queen of variety
Despite frequently being typecast as a result of her Carry On success, Windsor has proved surprisingly adaptable in a variety of roles.
She’s managed to maintain an illustrious career in theatre with a range of parts in productions spanning the likes of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and the hit Broadway musical Oh What A Lovely War that gained her a 1965 Tony Award nomination.
Windsor has also had a great deal of success in promotional activities too with her work as the ‘queen of bingo’ with Jackpotjoy, as well as her work as a fundraiser for the children’s charity Variety that raises funds for sick, disabled and disadvantaged children.
Not that Windsor was above making fun out of herself as was gleefully witnessed in her recent send-up on the hit BBC mockumentary Come Fly With Me.
But few actresses could have managed to sustain such a long and varied career that not only featured a string of iconic films such as the Carry On series, as well as one of Britain’s biggest ever television shows, Eastenders.
Windsor cemented her reputation as one of our best-loved actresses with her role of Peggy Mitchell in the soap opera between the years 1994 and 2003. Despite an occurrence of the debilitating Epstein-Barr virus that forced her to abstain from acting for a few years, she has made repeated returns to the soap, most notably for Eastenders’ 30th anniversary earlier this year.
And with further cameos in science-fiction shows such as Dr Who, hit movies like Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland as well as hosting her own show on BBC Radio 2, it seems like Barbara Windsor isn’t ready for retirement just yet.