Barbara Windsor Biography

Barbara Windsor Biography on Monsters and Critics

Summary

"Barbara Windsor", MBE (born "Barbara Ann Deeks"; 6 August 1937) is an English actress. Her best known roles are in the "Carry On" films and as Peggy Mitchell in the BBC soap opera "EastEnders".

Early life

Born in Shoreditch, London in 1937, Windsor was the only child of John and Rose Deeks, who were a costermonger and dressmaker, respectively. Windsor is of English and Irish ancestry. She passed her 11-plus exams with the highest marks in North London, and won a place at Our Lady's Convent in Stamford Hill. Her mother paid for her to have elocution lessons, and she trained at the Aida Foster School in Golders Green, making her stage debut at 13 and her West End debut in 1952 in the chorus of the musical "Love From Judy".

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. 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".

"Carry On" films

Windsor came to real prominence with her portrayals of a 'good time girl' in nine "Carry On" films - beginning with "Carry On Spying" and ending with "Carry On Dick" - and several TV and compilation specials between 1964 and 1977.

Her most famous scene was in "Carry On Camping" during which she was doing outdoor aerobic exercises and her bikini top flew off to reveal her breasts.

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, that was documented in the 1998 play "Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle and Dick", which was then adapted into the ITV drama "Cor, Blimey!" in 2000. She was strongly identified with the "Carry On" films for many years and this restricted the variety of roles she was chosen to play later.

She also played the role of 'sharp shooter' Laura La Plaz in S01E06 'Shooting Pains' of Dad's Army (first broadcast 1968-09-11).

Theatre career

She 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. She also appeared in Lionel Bart's musical flop "Twang!" (directed by Joan Littlewood) and in the musical "Come Spy with Me" with Danny La Rue.

In 1970 she landed the role of music hall legend Marie Lloyd in the musical-biopic "Sing A Rude Song". In 1972 she appeared in the West End in Tony Richardson's "The Threepenny Opera" with his then wife, Vanessa Redgrave. In 1975 she toured the UK, New Zealand and South Africa in her own show, "Carry On Barbara!", and followed this with the role of Maria in "Twelfth Night" at the Chichester Festival Theatre.

During the '70s, Windsor also starred in the stage version of the hit musical "Calamity Jane"

In 1981 she played sex-mad landlady Kath in Joe Orton's black comedy "Entertaining Mr Sloane" at the Lyric Hammersmith, directed by her friend Kenneth Williams. She reprised the role for a national tour in 1993.

"EastEnders"

Windsor once claimed that her biggest professional regret was that they only wanted unknown faces in TV's "EastEnders".

However, by 1994 the makers of the series had apparently revised this stance. In 1994, Windsor's fortunes picked up when she took over the role Peggy Mitchell (briefly played by Jo Warne in 1991). For this role 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 continued in the role until 2003 when she took a two-year break due to illness. She returned briefly in 2004 for Sam Mitchell's wedding to Andy Hunter. She came back permanently in 2005. Soon after her return, Grant and Phil returned, marking the first Mitchell reunion since 1999. Sam left in November 2005, and Grant left in June 2006 after a short stint. Windsor continues to play the role up to this day. She has campaigned for another Mitchell family reunion on screen. Sam Mitchell (Danniella Westbrook) returned in September 2009. But there are no known plans for Grant to return.

In October 2009 Windsor announced she was to quit her role as Peggy Mitchell, saying she wanted to spend more time with her husband. She has stated that she would like to return to the role in 2012.

She appeared briefly in the 2006 "Doctor Who" episode 'Army of Ghosts' as Peggy Mitchell in a fictional episode of "EastEnders", shown in the Queen Vic yelling at the ghost of Den Watts, played by Leslie Grantham, who had left the year before.

Recent years

In 1999 she made her record debut with fellow "EastEnders" cast member Mike Reid with "The More I See You". The year 2000 was one of accolades. She was made an MBE in the Millennium Honours List, was inducted into the first BBC Hall of Fame and had a waxwork of her unveiled at Madame Tussauds. She also published her autobiography, "All of Me".

After a debilitating case of the Epstein-Barr virus forced a two-year absence from "EastEnders" from 2003 to 2005, with just a return for two episodes in 2004, she rejoined the cast in the summer of 2005 and signed a one-year contract.

Windsor examined her family tree in the first episode of the third series of the documentary series "Who Do You Think You Are?", which aired on 6 September 2006, in which she traced her family tree back 11 generations to John Golding, the great-great-grandfather of the painter John Constable, making him Windsor's fourth cousin six times removed.

Windsor hosted an episode of "The Sunday Night Project" on 13 July 2008 and has made regular television appearances on chat shows such as "The Graham Norton Show" and "The Paul O'Grady Show"

She recently won 'Soap Legend' at the 2009 TV Now Awards in Dublin, Ireland.

On Saturday 9 May 2009, Windsor picked up the award for 'Lifetime Achievement Award' at the British Soap Awards. She won the 'Best Actress' title at the 1999 ceremony.

Windsor also played Mallymkun the Dormouse in Walt Disney's 2010 live action adaptation of Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland", directed by Tim Burton. The cast of the film also included Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway.

Relationships and personal life

Barbara Windsor has married three times:

Ronnie Knight (married 2 March 1964, divorced January 1985)

Stephen Hollings (married 12 April 1986 in Jamaica, divorced 1995)

Scott Mitchell (married 8 April 2000)

In her autobiography, "All of Me", Windsor talks about her five abortions, the first three of which took place before the age of 21, the last when she was 42. She has said that she never wanted children as a result of her own father rejecting her.

Over the years Windsor has made her home in a variety of locations. Amongst them, "Sunday Times" photographer Michael Ward's autobiography records her as living in Grand Parade, Harringay, in the early 1960s.

She was a real-life landlady when she ran a pub at Winchmore Hill, Buckinghamshire with her second husband, Stephen Hollings.

She was the subject of "This Is Your Life" in 1992. She is an Anglican.

External links

(Barbara Windsor) at bbc.co.uk

(Barbara Windsor Local research for 'Who do you think you are' at Bures, Suffolk)

Credit

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article about Barbara Windsor.