Barbara Windsor has revealed how she was reduced to tears – after she was banned from telling her EastEnders co-stars of her impending exit.

The soap matriarch, who bowed out as landlady Peggy Mitchell after 16 years, couldn’t stop crying at the ruling.

She told the Daily Mirror: “After I’d handed in my notice, I went through enormous stress as I wasn’t allowed to tell my friends – I just wanted it out there, it was a huge weight to carry and I’d come home crying as I just felt so dishonest.”

Barbara wanted to tell the news to her close friends on the long-running soap, especially her on-screen family.

“It was hard, especially when it came to people like Steve McFadden (Phil Mitchell), June Brown (Dot Cotton), Pam St Clement (Pat Evans), Sam Womack (Ronnie Mitchell), Rita Simons (Roxy Mitchell), Linda Henry (Shirley Carter), Cheryl Fergison (Heather Trott), Perry Fenwick (Billy Mitchell) and Adam Woodyatt (Ian Beale) – who I worked with so closely,” she added.

The 73-year-old said her decision to leave came because she stopped enjoying her time on the soap.

“I wasn’t laughing or singing around the house – I had stopped being fun,” she revealed.

Despite her recent dramatic exit, Barbara hasn’t ruled out a return to Albert Square just yet.

Speaking on This Morning, she said: “Well, they have said that they hope to see me back, and who knows? I mean, I don’t know – in my mind it’s ‘no, I’ve done that’, but I love it too much and I’m sure something will happen.”

She added: “I had a message from Shane Richie saying ‘Barbara that was so wonderful, but you’ve sat on your fat a*** long enough, get back!’…I’ve only been gone five weeks.”

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