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Barbara Windsor on Peggy Mitchell's swan song

TVBy Sunday World
Barbara Windsor on Peggy Mitchell's swan song

Barbara Windsor had to step in to persuade Ross Kemp to return to EastEnders.

The 78-year-old actress reprises her role as Peggy Mitchell for one final time, as her on-screen alter ego loses her battle with cancer. Ross and Steve McFadden, who play Peggy's sons Grant and Phil Mitchell, are also back, but it took a lot of work to get Ross back on board.

"I have to say, Ross enjoyed it," Barbara said during an interview on Good Morning Britain on Tuesday (10May16). "Because it's taken a lot to get him back. And it was just a little phone call from me in the end that did it."

Returning to the part he is most famous for was a daunting experience for Ross, who struggled with nerves for his acting comeback. But Barbara had similar fears over her comeback, and this united the pair.

"What I loved about him, bless him, was that he said to me, 'I'm nervous!' Because I was nervous, and I thought, 'Thank God he is too!' Because Steve is Steve, he's been doing it forever and he's got it all sorted out. So the pair of us together, were kind of holding hands," she added.

Returning to playing Peggy, alongside Grant and Phil, was an emotional experience for Barbara. The most exciting part for the actress was the first time the trio were reunited.

"It was lovely (when I saw the boys together)," she said. "I tell you what was great - when they stood either side of me. That was it - I felt, 'We're back!' What am I doing killing myself off? What am I, mad? I felt good."

The scenes will see Peggy bow out of the soap after a lengthy health battle, and Barbara knew that being killed off was the only way she would be able to leave the role behind her once and for all.

"I thought I was watering down the part if I kept coming back the odd days. I was supposed to leave, go, Joan of Arc in front of the burning Queen Vic pub - I thought I'd get an award for that - but no, they decided to keep me," she laughed. "I thought, there's only one thing I can do so that they don't ask me again. You know, I thought to myself, this is it, say goodbye, farewell."

- Cover Media