I've just sat down and watched Barbara Windsor's final episode of EastEnders. Words almost fail me as to how good Barbara was and that's not great when you are trying to write a blog.
I'm not a regular EastEnders viewer and I don't claim to know who half the characters are but one thing is certain, there's no mistaking Dame Barbara Windsor. For years she has been the giggly, fluffy Carry On blonde and we do love her for it. What she showed tonight though was something else. Her performance as Queen Vic landlady Peggy Mitchell is legendary alright but sometimes it could be a little over the top. However tonight's finale to 22 years in Albert Square was perfectly pitched.
There were moments of typical Barbara. All the usual gestures and mannerisms were there - it felt warm and familiar but we knew something different was coming. I thought I might find it difficult to watch the end when it came and I did, but as ever with Barbara her performance was very human and down to earth. I won't spoil it all in case you haven't seen it but I think her last scenes were beautiful.
A very special mention to the writer of Barbara's last episode, Sarah Phelps. What a talented woman she is to have crafted such a terrific script under what must have been a significant amount of pressure to both get it right and do the character and the actress justice.
Barbara will forever be Babs to most of us. She'll never be compared to contemporaries likes Judi, Maggie or Vanessa but once again she dug deep and produced a superb, heartrending performance. I've often said I'm in two minds about Barbara, she'll never be like Joan or Hattie to me but I have discovered a newfound respect and admiration for Dame Barbara Windsor recently. Well done to all concerned for creating such a memorable, classy send off.