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Peggy-style Sunday World reporter fondly remembers getting 'elbowed' by the late great Barbara Windsor


Barbara Windsor and Sunday World reporter Eugene Masterson

Barbara Windsor and Sunday World reporter Eugene Masterson

Barbara Windsor and Sunday World reporter Eugene Masterson

“GET out of my way!” roared Barbara Windsor as she threw her arm against my shoulder and elbowed me from her path.

The unmistakable bark which mirrored her character Peggy Mitchell’s line ‘Get out of my pub’ to Pat Butcher was in marked contrast to the charming picture she posed with me just a few minutes earlier.

The late soap legend was all smiles when I approached her at the' TV Now Awards' in Dublin’s Mansion House in April 2009.

Barbara was making her first appearance at the now defunct TV awards show, at which numerous small screen celebrities from the UK were flown over for an annual beano.

“Have you ever been to Ireland before?” I innocently asked, just moments after she smiled for the camera.

Her decorum immediately changed and she turned on me with a face like thunder: “You must be joking!.”

She then stormed away elsewhere into the arms of welcoming fans, all keen to glad-handle a living legend.

A few minute later I spotted her walking off leaving and tried to make my peace with her, offering her a programme to sign her autograph.

“Get out of my way!,” she barked as she glared at me with furious eyes, before elbowing me out of her way and taking off into the night.

To say I was a bit dumbstruck was like Pat’s slapped face in the Queen Vic.

It was only the next day I realised Barbara’s ancestors hailed from Ireland and she had been here to trace her roots for the BBC’s ‘Who do you think you are’.

Barbara decided to look for some glamour in her mother's side of the family.


The trail led to Mary Ann Collins, her maternal great grandmother. She was a matchbox maker, living in a notorious London slum, Old Nichol Street.

Mary's parents came over to England from Cork, Ireland, between 1846 and 1851 to escape the potato famine, swapping the fresh air of the countryside for the squalor of London.

More than a million people died in the famine, with a further two million emigrating. Barbara was shocked to discover that her great grandmother was the second Mary Ann Collins in the family.

The first named child had died in 1851 of scarlet fever shortly after escaping the famine.

Before the ancestry programme, Barbara knew very little about her family’s origins in London’s East End - partly because her mother 'thought she was better than she was'.

Barbara died last night in a London care home at the age of 83, having battled Alzheimer’s since 2012.

She has been to Ireland for several TV shows and was interviewed by Ryan Tubridy on the Late Late Show.

Barbara’s last scenes on Eastenders were in May 2016.

Like millions of others I tuned in to see her harrowing final scene, when she was joined by the ghost of her ‘frenemy’ Pat Butcher.

Despite our little run in, I actually shed a tear at the loss of such a great matriarchal figure and a damn fine actor. Cheers Babs!

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Online Editors