Peggy's shock exit: Star retuns to EastEnders to reveal terminal cancer
'EastEnders'' Peggy Mitchell returned to Walford in last night's episode to reveal "the cancer is back, I'm dying."
Dame Barbara Windsor - who has played Peggy Mitchell on and off in the BBC One soap for two decades - told bosses she wanted her character to be killed off because she is leaving the show permanently.
And in dramatic scenes, Peggy is seen breaking the news to her son Phil Mitchell - played by Steve McFadden - who is visibly drunk, and says: "The cancer's back. I'm dying."
The former Queen Vic landlord - who had breast cancer in a storyline in 1996 - then locks herself in the bathroom and is inconsolable.
Giving her reasons for quitting the soap, the 78-year-old actress said it wasn't for a lack of "love" for 'EastEnders'.
She said: "Everyone knows I love 'EastEnders' and that will never change."
And added: "Peggy is a character close to my heart but I made the decision a while ago that I need to say goodbye to Peggy once and for all as otherwise she will always be there, urging me to go back and that is something I need to shut the door on.
"After thinking long and hard about it, I realised that it is time for me and the audience to say our final farewells to the lady who I have loved for many years and I thought that whilst the guvnor, who I adore, is still in charge I want him to be the one to oversee it."
But the veteran star confessed she has been "secretly plotting" her exit for months.
She told the Daily Mirror: "I am grateful that Dominic has accepted my decision and together, since late last summer, we have been secretly plotting Peggy's last scenes."