Filming her final scenes for EastEnders left Barbara Windsor fighting back the tears.
The 78-year-old shot her on-screen exit from the London based soap opera at the end of last month (Apr16), almost 22 years after she first appeared as Peggy Mitchell in November 1994.
In January this year (16), it was revealed Barbara’s character was to be killed off in a storyline after the return of the breast cancer she had overcome 20 years ago.
She will return to British TV screens on 9 May (16) to conclude her story.
Barbara admits her castmates were extremely emotional when filming her final scenes – which see Peggy say goodbye to her home in Walford, the fictional borough of London in which EastEnders is based.
“There were lots of tears from everyone,” she tells Britain’s Daily Mirror newspaper. “Everybody was sad. I love everyone here, I kind of got that “have I made the right decision?” feeling in my stomach. But I knew I had.”
However she was so determined not to break down when the moment came to say goodbye that she was lost for words.
“When I finished filming the last scene, I couldn’t say anything,” she says I knew that if I opened my mouth I would sob. But I couldn’t do that, because this is my choice.”
Despite the emotional nature of her send-off and her last minute doubts, Barbara is sure she’s made the right decision in permanently leaving the BBC show.
“I made the decision a while ago that I need to say goodbye to Peggy once and for all as otherwise she will always be there, urging me to go back, and that is something I needed to shut the door on,” she tells the paper, adding, “After thinking long and hard about it, I realised that it is time for me and the audience to say our final farewells to the lady who I have loved for many years.”
Many of the actress’ most memorable scenes came alongside Steve McFadden and Ross Kemp as Peggy’s sons Phil and Grant Mitchell, and she reserved a special thanks for the pair for helping her say goodbye to the character.
“I think of them as very, very dear friends,” Barbara adds. “I’ve been very blessed to have had both Steve and Ross as my on-screen sons as they are both great actors. I couldn’t have come back and filmed my final scenes without us all together.”
Barbara Windsor’s final EastEnders episode will air later this year (16).
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