Barbara Windsor's 'EastEnders' role was 'answer to her prayers' over £1m debt

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·Contributor
·2-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Barbara Windsor as Peggy Mitchell
Barbara Windsor as Peggy Mitchell

Barbara Windsor was £1m in debt when she landed her EastEnders role, calling the job “the answer to all my prayers”.

The actor, who died last week after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease, played Peggy Mitchell in the BBC soap for more than 20 years – and admitted that the role came at exactly the right time.

In her autobiography All Of Me: My Extraordinary Life, she wrote: “EastEnders was the answer to my prayers.”

Windsor wrote that she had discovered that The Plough pub in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, that she owned with estranged husband Stephen Hollings had racked up debt, leaving her responsible for £1m.

Read more: Ross Kemp calls for ‘Barbara tax’

Hollings was refusing to sell the pub, leaving Windsor liable for a huge bill.

She wrote: “There was no way I could pay that. I hadn’t earned that kind of money in all the years I’d been in showbusiness put together.”

Watch: Michelle Collins says Barbara Windsor was ‘working-class hero’

The star said also that then-new boyfriend Scott Mitchell, who would later become her husband, had started to rely on alcohol and that the problems in her personal life started to become too much for her, leaving her sobbing to co-star Ross Kemp.

EastEnders stars Barbara Windsor (who plays bride 'Peggy Mitchell') and Mike Reid (groom 'Frank Butcher', third from left), with co-stars during a photocall outside the Queen Vic pub at London's Elstree studios, where their on-screen wedding reception was filmed.   * With fellow actors (l-r) Steve McFadden (Phil), Pam St Clement (Pat), Ross Kemp (Grant), Shaun Williamson (Barry) and Tony Caunter (Roy).   (Photo by John Stillwell - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
EastEnders stars Barbara Windsor and Mike Reid, with co-stars at London's Elstree studios, where their on-screen wedding reception was filmed. (John Stillwell – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

But Mitchell eventually tackled his drinking demons and they married in 2000, while as Peggy she featured in a huge EastEnders storyline where her character developed breast cancer.

Read more: Barbara Windsor: A life in pictures

However, during an emotional scene she forgot her lines, something that would start to become more of a problem.

She wrote: “It was something that would happen more and more before I finally had to give up EastEnders — the dream job I hoped would go on forever.”

Watch: Tributes pour in for Barbara Windsor

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting