EastEnders’ most famous star Barbara Windsor is to leave Albert Square after more than 15 years in the soap.

The 72-year-old actress, who plays the nation’s favourite landlady Peggy Mitchell, will call time on her life in Walford next year.

National treasure Babs, also known to generations for her roles in the Carry On movies, said she would be sad to leave but wants to spend more time with her husband – who is 26 years younger than her.

Barbara said: “EastEnders has been wonderful to me and it’s no secret that it changed my life all of those years ago. I’ll be so sad to leave Peggy behind; she’s such a wonderful character to play. I have had the pleasure of working with a marvellous cast and crew and have made many lasting good friends. To have had the honour of showing the Queen around the set is something that will stay with me forever.

“I would like to thank the BBC for the incredible opportunity they gave me and above all, I must thank the wonderful viewers for their support over the years. I’m looking forward to the future and I suppose when all’s said and done, I should spend a bit more time with my old man, as he’s not getting any younger.”

Drama boss at the BBC John Yorke said: “To most of the British public Barbara IS EastEnders, and it’s almost impossible to imagine Albert Square without her. For 15 years she’s given her heart and soul to EastEnders – she’s been a consummate professional, a national treasure and a joy to work alongside. We will all miss her hugely – both as a character, and as a friend.”

Babs was awarded an MBE in 1999 and a Lifetime Achievement Award at the British Soap Awards in May 2009.

Diederick Santer, EastEnders Executive Producer, added: “Barbara has contributed so much to EastEnders over the last 15 years, plus countless episodes, and countless amazing storylines. Peggy Mitchell is a truly iconic character, and along with Steve McFadden and Ross Kemp, Barbara has made the Mitchells the premier family of British soap.”

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