Tributes paid to extraordinary Dame Barbara Windsor

Tributes paid to extraordinary Dame Barbara Windsor

Tributes are flooding in for former EastEnders and Carry On films actress Barbara Windsor who has died aged 83.

Larry Lamb, who played her soap character Peggy Mitchell’s controlling husband Archie, said she was “an extraordinary woman”.

“The word star gets a little bit over-used, and if you’re going to be a star you’ve kind of got to learn out to be one,” Lamb told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“She was like the head girl at EastEnders,” he said.

He added that she knew how to carry herself on set, saying: “You know what it means to be the top of the bill, to have the responsibility of carrying the show and and looking after everybody that’s all around you, helping you to move it along and keep it up to scratch, and she had to do it.

“Everybody [at EastEnders] looked up to her – which physically wasn’t the easiest thing to do, she was so tiny!

“But she was an extraordinary extraordinary woman and a great loss, everyone,” he added.

Tracy-Ann Oberman joined the Albert Square cast in 2004, playing Chrissie Watts, the wife of “Dirty” Den Watts.

She told 5 Live that Dame Barbara was “like show business’s fairy godmother”.

“She was a wonderful, wonderful woman, because not only was she excellent at her work, she was also a really good human being,” said Oberman.

The actress recalled how welcoming the star, who had been absent from EastEnders for a couple of years herself due to ill health, had been to her on the phone when first arrived into the “whirlwind” of the “fast-moving” show.

“She got my number and she rang me up and she said, ‘Hello darling. This is Barbara here. I just want to let you know that I’ve been watching you on-screen and you’re fantastic and if there’s anything you need call me’,” Oberman recalled.

“And she just used to ring me once a week just to check in and see how I was doing, give me any comments on performance. Then when she [re]joined the show it was an absolute honour to work with her.”

Fellow EastEnders star Danny Dyer, who played Mick Carter, a new landlord of The Queen Victoria pub, posted on Instagram that Dame Barbara was “the only one Dame in my eyes”.

“So grateful to have known ya. You was a beautiful rare one,” he wrote.

Adam Woodyatt, who plays Ian Beale, said it was “a privilege and honour,” to work with Dame Barbara, having watched her on television in the Carry On films during his younger days.

“I have so many happy memories and moments that I will always cherish, even when Peggy floored Ian with a punch,” he said.

Former EastEnder Shane Richie said he was “absolutely devastated” at the news, “as Barbara was a friend as well as my TV Boss in the Queen Vic”.

“We shared many a story in between filming – to amazement of situations (we found ourselves in) to laughter!,” added the actor, who played Alfie Moon, and was recently in ITV’s I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!

Danniella Westbrook, who played her on-screen daughter Sam Mitchell in EastEnders, tweeted: “My heart is broken. Bar, you will always [be] in my heart forever.”

Fellow EastEnder Patsy Palmer, who played Bianca Jackson, said: “I’m extremely sad to hear that my friend Dame Barbara Windsor has passed away. I’m sitting here thinking of the 100s of memories we shared.

“Too many to comprehend. We were like family for a long time, ups, downs, ins and outs but you will never meet a more professional actress than Babs.”

Tamzin Outhwaite, who played Mel Owen in EastEnders, tweeted that she was “meant to be sleeping but can’t”, and described the actress as an icon and national treasure. “All I can hear is ‘ello darlin’,” she added in reference to Peggy Mitchell’s cockney catchphrase.

Little Britain star Matt Lucas said “it’s not an overstatement to say I think the whole country is in mourning today” and praised Dame Barbara for working “tirelessly” for charity “even when her own health was failing her”.

Veteran broadcaster Tony Blackburn said she was a “lovely lady who was always such fun”.

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