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Comedian and actor Matt Lucas said “the whole country is in mourning” following the death of Dame Barbara Windsor at the age of 83.
The actress, known for her work in the Carry On films before becoming a household name playing Peggy Mitchell on EastEnders, died on Thursday evening, her husband Scott Mitchell said.
Dame Barbara was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014 and made the news public in 2018. She died in a London care home, her husband said.
Tributes flooded in following Dame Barbara’s death and she was described as a “genuine national treasure” and “the unofficial Queen of England”.
Lucas posted a picture of himself with the late actress and said: “You don’t become a Dame by accident. Everyone knew Barbara Windsor and everyone loved her.
“She delighted us on stage and sparkled on screen in a long and illustrious career. She also worked tirelessly for charity, and continued to do so, even when her own health was failing her.
“Her devoted husband Scott has been utterly selfless and heroic in caring for her and I am devastated for him.
“I will miss her warmth, her generosity, her laughter and the kindness she showed me. She was a remarkable woman and it’s not an overstatement to say I think the whole country is in mourning today.”
Watch: Dame Barbara Windsor in her two famous roles
Patsy Palmer, who played Bianca Jackson on EastEnders, posted a moving tribute on Instagram.
Alongside pictures of the pair together, as well as a photograph of a young Dame Barbara, Palmer said: “I’m extremely sad to hear that my friend ‘Dame’ Babara Windsor has passed away . I’m sitting here thinking of the 100’s of memories we shared .
“Too many to comprehend. We were like family for a long time, ups downs, ins and outs but you will never meet a more professional actress than Babs.”
Palmer, 48, also praised Dame Barbara’s husband and said: “You were the best husband she could’ve wished for . You deserve the highest accolade. We shared such magical times together and I’ll cherish every one . I can hear that laugh now as I sit and think about her . I hope it’ll ring in my ears forever.
“She always looked out for me and so did you . Love you both very much . I’m gutted ! I could say so much but I’m so sad . RIP BABS.”
Actress Danniella Westbrook, who played Dame Barbara’s on-screen daughter Sam Mitchell, tweeted: “MY HEART IS BROKEN .Bar you will always br in my heart forever. Good bye , I LOVE YOU XXX RIP Barbara WINDSOR.”
A representative for actor Steve McFadden, who plays Dame Barbara’s on-screen son Phil Mitchell, told PA he was “devastated” by her death.
Tamzin Outhwaite, who played Mel Owen in EastEnders, tweeted: “Meant to be sleeping but can’t…. RIP Barbara Windsor… #legend #icon #nationaltreasure #friend #heroine”. She added: “All I can hear is “Ello darlin”#ripbarbara”
TV presenter Jonathan Ross also paid tribute to the pint-sized star.
He tweeted: “Barbara Windsor in real life was everything you might have hoped for. So warm, so funny, so kind. Goodnight sweetheart x.”
Lucas’ Little Britain co-star David Walliams said Dame Barbara was his “first love as a child” in the Carry On films, adding “I will love you forever”.
He said: “Working with you, spending time with you, and being your friend was the one of the greatest thrills of my life. You were the unofficial Queen of England, an icon for over half a century and treasured by the nation.”
Veteran DJ Tony Blackburn also remembered Dame Barbara on social media and in a tweet said she was a “lovely lady who was always such fun. R.I.P. Babs.”