Carry On legend Dame Barbara Windsor will soon be returning to the BBC 1 soap opera EastEnders for the last time. Barbara, best known for her performances in nine classic Carry On films, reinvented herself when the role of East End matriarch and Queen Vic Landlady came along in 1994.
I'm no great fan of the Albert Square drama, however I must praise both its longevity and its success at showing the serious actress lurking beneath Barbara's fluffy Carry On persona. Peter Rogers may only have employed Barbara for her figure, but the BBC signed her on for a whole lot more than that. I've been impressed by some of Barbara's performances in Enders over the years, from Peggy tackling breast cancer and finding out about Frank Butcher's affair with ex-wife Pat to the legendary scenes when she turned into the enemy for her treatment of Mark Fowler, Barbara has always been convincing in her portrayal.
Having been a regular on the soap from 1994 until 2010, Barbara has reappeared several times, often leading fans to wonder if she would ever reprise the role permanently once again. However, having left six years ago to spend more time with her husband, Barbara reached the decision last year to revisit Peggy one last time and it's bound to be a tear jerker. I'm sure Peggy's exit is now common knowledge, but let's just say she won't be back after this one.
I think Barbara splits Carry On fans into two camps, as it were. There are those who love her and those who, well, prefer Joan and Hattie. I bounce back and forward between these two trains of thought. On the one hand I think there were far better actresses in the Carry Ons and it frustrates me that Babs always seemed to get the headlines. I also wish certain details from her private doings had been kept private! However I admire her plucky grit and determination. She's a grafter and has endured, making the most of her talents. It took me a while to warm to the idea of "Dame Babs" but now I think, why not? She does sum up the best of British in many ways, so good luck to her.
As for her EastEnders exit, well of course I'll be watching. It will be great to see her back in the spotlight and I'm sure she'll be on fine form. Her farewell is bound to bring a lump to our throats and it might be rather painful to watch but I'm sure she'll surprise us all with her acting talent.
So will you all be watching Barbara's return to EastEnders? What are your thoughts on Dame Babs and her final visit to Albert Square?
Barbara's return to EastEnders airs on BBC 1 from the week of 9 May.