Barbara Windsor: ‘It was a bad choice to kill off Pat in EastEnders’

As Barbara Windsor makes a one-off return to EastEnders, she tells TV Times magazine what and who convinced her to make a comeback to Albert Square…

It’s great to see you back as Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders. Why did you decide to return?
“Steve McFadden was the reason I had no hesitation in returning for this storyline. It’s no secret how close we are. Not only is my husband, Scott, his manager and godfather to two of his children, but I also count him as one of my most trusted friends.”

It’s so nice that you have such a close relationship!
“My admiration for him as an actor is way up there with the best. When I worked with Hollywood director, Tim Burton, in Alice in Wonderland [Barbara was the voice of the Dormouse in the 2010 feature-length animation], he told me he thought Steve was a great actor and told him so himself at the premiere. Tim even asked to have his photo taken with Steve on his phone!”

You’re only coming back to the show briefly. Since leaving, do you keep in touch with your old castmates?
“Obviously, I see Steve a lot, and I also see and socialise with the magnificent June Brown and Pam St Clement. We like to go to the theatre and have dinner and a good old rabbit afterwards. June is an incredible lady and, when I was in the show, we would always lunch together. I adore her. As for Pam, my nights out with her are equally as enjoyable.”

What do you think about the fact that Pam St Clement left the show?
“I think that Pat is sorely missed from EastEnders, and it was a bad choice to kill her off. Sorry if I offend the people who made that decision, but that’s how I feel!”

You’ve said that not a week goes by without someone shouting out Peggy’s catchphrase, ‘Get outta my pub!’ or asking for a photo or an autograph. How do you feel about that?
“Some people say: ‘Does it not get on your nerves?’ The answer is simple… No! I embrace it and, in fact, encourage it. Sometimes I even stop people and force them to have their picture taken with me! I’m joking, but the day they stop asking me is the day I will hang up my tap shoes.”