I F there is anyone who needs little, or no, introduction it is actress Barbara Windsor.
Ever since she made her stage debut at 13 and her West End debut in 1952 in the chorus of the musical Love From Judy, generations have grown up with her.

Albeit in the Carry On films or the nearly 17 years she played the role of Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders, for which she received the Best Actress award at the British Soap Awards in 1999 and a Lifetime Achievement award from the same source in 2009, she is part of stage and screen history.

And not only in the UK, the Shoreditch-born star also starred on Broadway in the Theatre Workshop's Oh, What a Lovely War! and received a 1965 Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. “I've been so lucky,” she admitted to the Bulletin yesterday. “I was the only child, which was quite unusual for my parent's generation but my father went off to war and my mother, not knowing if her husband would ever come back, decided that one child was enough. “So, I guess, theatre not only became my life, it also became my family and I loved the whole show business industry. “I love the camaraderie, the hard work and I'm so looking forward to catching up with some of my former EastEnders colleagues in Majorca this weekend,” she said.

Loves Majorca
Barbara has been coming to Majorca now twice a year for the past ten years, she has in-laws on the island and she loves it. “But this weekend is extra special. Not only has it brought me back to Majorca, it's also giving me the opportunity to contribute to Pirates Charity Premiere in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital. “Not only do I do a lot of charity work, I was actually admitted to GOSH when I was just five years old. I had these pains in my legs and I was suffering from rheumatism and I remember it so well, the nurse turning up with these huge tablets which even she admitted didn't look very nice, so they would crush them up with jam. “To this day I remember the kindness of all the medical staff and that is why the Pirates Charity Premiere in aid of GOSH is marvelous, it's a great event for such a good cause and I am so pleased I am able to help. “What could be better, trip down to Majorca and then help raise funds for the hospital, not exactly hard work and offer no one could refuse,” she said.

And, since she quit EastEnders three years ago, Barbara says that she has had more time to get more actively involved with her six charities. “Working on EastEnders was 6am starts and long days in wardrobe and make-up etc., but I loved it, like I said, I loved the camaraderie of it all and I have to admit I do miss it but they've tried to get me to go back on the soap and turned the offer down. I will be 76 soon, so I have to look after my little body a bit,” she said.

Queen of Bingo “But, I am now the Queen of Bingo, fronting the TV campaign for the online bingo site Jackpotjoy, which I enjoy, and that gives me time to go to the various charity events as opposed to sending signed pictures and letters like I used to when I just didn't have the time. “Now, I am enjoying being able to do exactly what I want, when I want which, after 60 plus years in the business, is quite nice.” That said, she has not completely put her feet up. Barbara regularly stands in for Elaine Paige on her BBC Radio 2 show on Sunday afternoons between 1.00pm and 3.00pm and is currently working on a new one-hour radio show about famous singers for the same station. “And, with the Carry On being constantly repeated on TV, I still get fan mail. “I remember catching a taxi about 18 months ago and the cabbie, he was so sweet, we were nattering away about life and the films etc. and just before I got out he said ‘it's a shame you're all dead'...I had to laugh. “I will never forget those days. I know they tried to revive the carry On films but it didn't work and it will not work. “They came out at the right time. Britain was still recovering from the war and life was pretty grim, so I guess the films provided some laughter and excitement. It was all good fun, a good giggle, naughty but nice and we all had a great time, but it wouldn't work now because all the naughty bits have been seen, in fact nowadays, it's all been seen, so there's no novelty factor. What is more, the scripts may have been rather silly but the cast was absolutely top class and one that probably could never be repeated. They were all professionals, all at the top of their game and joy to have worked with. There was never a dull time on the set of the carry On films which, although were supposed to have taken place in the summer, were shot in the winter. Bikini top flew off “I remember shooting Carry on Camping in the middle of winter in a field out the back of the studios,” Barbara said.
In fact, one of her most iconic scenes was in Carry On Camping in 1969, where her bikini top flew off during outdoor aerobic exercises. In classic Carry On style, exposure was implied but little was in fact seen - naughty but nice! “That said, for me EastEnders was the number one job,” she stressed, and her career was not just one carry on.
Barbara trained at Aida Foster School in Golders Green and Her first film role was in The Belles of St Trinian's in 1954. She joined Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, coming to prominence in their stage production Fings Ain't Wot They Used to Be and Littlewood's film Sparrers Can't Sing in 1963, achieving a BAFTA nomination for Best British Film Actress. She also appeared in the 1964 film comedy Crooks in Cloisters, the 1968 film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and in the sitcoms The Rag Trade and Wild, Wild Women. In 1980, Windsor appeared as “Saucy Nancy” in the second series of Worzel Gummidge.

Through her charity work and also her husband Scott, Barbara became a patron of the Amy Winehouse Foundation last year. “Scott knew her and her family well and, living near Harley Street, we would often see her and soon she began popping round, sometimes I was there and when I was she would help me read my EastEnders scripts. She often said that she would have loved to have played my role Peggy, just to be able to shout ‘get out of my pub'. “She was a lovely and sweet girl and I'm really pleased to be involved with the foundation because it's raising a lot of money and doing a lot of great work for young people will all kinds of problems,” she said.

Wonderful job
But, for Barbara, who in 2010, was given the Freedom of the City of London and was honoured by the City of Westminster at a tree planting and plaque ceremony, this weekend is all about Great Ormond Street and the children the hospital is looking after. “They do such a wonderful job and it's great to see that some of the kids get to come down to Majorca for a holiday with their parents every year thanks to Pirates. And I can't wait to catch up with my old mates again,” she added.