Barbara Windsor, Patsy Palmer and Lacey Turner – better known as East End belles Peggy, Bianca and Stacey – talk about their special memories of the show.
How are you feeling about the EastEnders 25th anniversary?
Lacey: “I can’t believe that it’s 25 years old! I can remember watching it when I was young so I really have grown up with it. If someone had told me that one day I’d be a part of it, I would never have believed them.”
What about doing next week’s live episode?
Patsy: “I’m the worst giggler here – I hope they give me loads of fun stuff to do because I will just laugh. My family will be watching and that’s scary – I’ll be really tempted to wave to them! I’m going to tell them that I’ll do some sort of sign or gesture, but then it’ll probably throw me. I’ll move my arm or put my hand on my head or something, and completely lose it.”
What do you remember about your first days on the show?
Patsy: “I had been doing theatre, TV and films for a while. I was really excited about getting a three-month contract so I could buy myself a Ford Fiesta! I wasn’t actually up for the part – they were auditioning 16-year-olds at my drama school and I was 21 at the time. I was chatting away at the back, getting told off by the teacher, and the casting director said, ‘I’d like to see her…'”
Lacey: “My first time on set was surreal. It was so familiar, but at the same time, so much smaller than it looks on screen. I just remember trying not to call everyone by their character names.”
Barbara: “A few things weren’t quite right about Peggy at the beginning. On a purely superficial level the wig didn’t fit and the clothes weren’t right either – they appeared too downmarket. I saw her as much ballsier than they did. They envisaged Peggy as this sad, vulnerable lady who spent her time worrying about her children.”
Barbara, you are leaving. How is that going to be?
Barbara: “I’ll be so sad to leave Peggy behind, she’s such a wonderful character to play. When all’s said and done, I should spend a bit more time with my old man (her husband Scott Mitchell is 26 years her junior), as he’s not getting any younger!”
How do you think things will be in another 25 years?
Lacey: “Can you imagine Stacey at nearly 50? I think it would be hilarious, she’d probably still be wearing her short skirts and living life to the full.”
Patsy: “I’m 37 now, so I’ll be 62 then! That is not even funny, I’d better start enjoying myself! What will Bianca be doing? Oh, being talked about, because she’s won the lottery. She and Ricky will have retired to Spain, and that’s where they’ll film all their scenes from!”
Catch the 25th anniversary special live episode of EastEnders on Friday February 19 at 8pm.