From the West End stage in the 50s to the set of Eastenders in the mid-90s, Barbara’s long showbiz career has made her one of our most beloved icons.
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 Sparrows Can’t Sing in 1963, achieving a BAFTA nomination for Best British Film Actress.
Barbara came to real prominence with her portrayals of a ‘good time girl’ in nine Carry On films. Her first was Carry On Spying in 1964 and her final Carry On… film acting role was in Carry On Dick in 1974.
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 is implied but little is in fact seen.
From 1973 to 1975 she appeared with several of the Carry On team in the West End revue Carry On London! During this time she had a well-publicised affair with her co-star, Sid James.
In 1994 Barbara was cast in Eastenders. She took over the role Peggy Mitchell for which she received the Best Actress award at the British Soap Awards in 1999 and a Lifetime Achievement award in 2009.
The Doctor Who episode “Army of Ghosts” included a specially recorded clip featuring her appearing in character. She was seen telling the ghost of Den Watts to “get outta my pub!” In November 2005, as part of the BBC’s Children In Need charity night, a Catherine Tate Show/EastEnders mini episode was broadcast. It featured Windsor as Peggy in the Queen Victoria Public House, being tormented by Catherine Tate’s schoolgirl character Lauren Cooper.
Barbara provided the voice of the Dormouse in Walt Disney’s 2010 live action adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, directed by Tim Burton.
Also in 2010 she was honoured for her outstanding contribution to show business, at the Variety Club Showbiz Awards.