Read the moving tributes that are being shared after this morning’s sad announcement that national treasure Barbara Windsor has died.
Dame Barbara Windsor has died aged 83, it was confirmed by her husband Scott Mitchell on Friday 11 December.
After living with Alzheimer’s disease following her diagnosis in 2014, the actor died in a London care home on Thursday evening. Mitchell said she will be remembered for the “love, fun, friendship and brightness she brought to all our lives”.
And he’s right, because Windsor was quite simply an icon.
With an acting career spanning over an incredible 70 years, Windsor made her theatre debut when she was 13 years old. She went on to star in nine Carry On films and was nominated for a Bafta for her performance in the musical Sparrows Can’t Sing.
But, of course, fans will best know Windsor for portraying pub landlord Peggy Mitchell in BBC soap Eastenders. She first played the Mitchell matriarch in 1994 and made her last appearance in 2016. In the same year, she was appointed a Dame for her services to entertainment and charity work.
In the later years of her life, after an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, Windsor dedicated herself to supporting dementia research and care. Just last year, she penned an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, urging him to reform dementia care at this critical time.
Windsor delivered the letter signed by 100,000 people, which said the system was “completely inadequate, unfair, unsustainable and in dire need of more money”.
Speaking about why they wanted to openly talk about the diagnosis, Windsor’s husband said on This Morning in 2018: “I want the public to know because they are naturally very drawn to Barbara and she loves talking to them. So rather than me living in fear she might get confused or upset, they’ll know that if her behaviour seems strange, it’s due to Alzheimer’s and accept it for what it is.”
But the tributes that have been shared this morning prove that Windsor will always be remembered first and foremost for being a national treasure.
Paul O’Grady, who was a longtime friend of Windsor’s, shared in a statement on Instagram: ‘I’m absolutely gutted to hear that my friend of 30 years, Dame Barbara Windsor has passed away. She was an incredible lady and if you looked up the definition of ‘professional’ in the dictionary it would say Barbara Windsor.
“My love and sympathy to her husband Scott. Rest in peace Bar, it was a privilege to have known you.”
Former Eastenders co-star Patsy Palmer shared a photo on Instagram, captioning it with a tribute to her friend.
“I’m sitting here thinking of the [hundreds] of memories we shared,” Palmer wrote. “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.”
She added: “[Scott Mitchell] you were the best husband she could’ve wished for. We shared such magical times together and I’ll cherish every one. I can hear that laugh now as I sit and think about her. I hope it’ll ring in my ears forever. She always looked out for me and so did you. Love you both very much. I’m gutted! I could say so much but I’m so sad. RIP BABS.”
Former Hollyoaks actor and Game Of Thrones star Nathalie Emmanuel also shared her admiration for Windsor.
“Oh wow… actually feel really sad about the passing of Barbara Windsor. She was a legend… and the many ‘allo mum…’ *pans to Phil and/or Grant Mitchell* duff duff moments will always be the most iconic in my opinion. May she rest in peace. #RIPBarbaraWindsor #Babs.”
Actor Vicky McClure, who is an ambassador for Alzheimer’s Society, also shared a tribute, praising Windsor’s work in raising awareness around dementia.
“So sorry to hear the passing of Dame Barbara Windsor. She really was a national treasure,” McClure wrote in a tweet. “Barbara and Scott’s honesty and determination has done so much to help those living with dementia.
“Sending all my love to Scott and all Barbara’s family and friends xxx.”
And TV host Jonathan Ross spoke for the nation in bidding goodnight to the star.
“Barbara Windsor in real life was everything you might have hoped for,” Ross wrote.
“So warm, so funny, so kind. Goodnight sweetheart x.”
If you are worried about Alzheimer’s disease affecting you or somebody you know, you can find more information and guidance on dementia on the Alzheimer’s Society website.
Images: Getty, BBC