We had a prime spot on the red carpet for yesterday’s Bafta Television Awards. It’s a manic environment, with everybody vying to get a soundbite from their favourite performers or presenters, with the hacks often more interested in talking about the designer frocks than they are talking about the work that the ceremony is about to celebrate.
Over the course of the week, we’ll bring you some bits and pieces from both the red carpet and the winners’ press conferences, starting with Barbara Windsor, there to support both EastEnders for its nomination in the Best Continuing Drama category and June Brown’s nod for Best Actress.
Recently in EastEnders, we’ve been seeing a darker side to Peggy Mitchell…
That “Kill him!” Oh, I didn’t want to do that. But there we go, she didn’t know what she was saying, she was having a nervous breakdown. That all comes out in the next few episodes coming up, you’ll see how she was.
But yeah, she has always had that side. The first episodes I ever did, I slapped Phil, because it was “Sharongate” and all that, you know… but it’s been fun playing that. Isn’t it funny — I like to think I’m nothing like that. When you’re paying totally against [your own character], you know, that is totally fantastic.
Do you think that in five or ten years’ time, you’ll still be in EastEnders?
I’ll be where June [Brown] is! She’s 82, and I’m 71, so that’ll be just about right. We have dressing rooms next to each other, so we love each other.
You’ve done so much theatre work in the past. Would you ever go back to the stage?
I miss it. I really miss that. Do you know what, somebody asked me the other day, it was a producer and he said, “There’s a big gap in your career, between Carry On and EastEnders. What were you doing?” And I said, “Well, I was touring with Entertaining Mister Sloane, Guys and Dolls, Calamity Jane, Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be… theatre, people don’t seem to know about. But I miss theatre still very, very much. I’d like to think there’s one pantomime left in me, you know!
“I’d like to do something. I always wanted to do something with her [June Brown] on stage. Something like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?. That would be good don’t you think?”
Of course, Barbara’s long theatre career saw her grow from her days with Joan Littlewood at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, to playing music hall legend Marie Lloyd in the musical Sing a New Song at the Greenwich Theatre (which later transferred to the Garrick), Lucy in Kurt Weill’s Threepenny Opera, directed by Tony Richardson and, of course, roles in musicals uch as Calamity Jane and Lionel Bart’s Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be. Like June Brown, she is no stranger to Shakespeare, either, having played Maria in Twelfth Night for the Chichester Festival Theatre.
Indeed, if you search The Stage Archive for “Barbara Windsor”, you will find just short of 700 entries. With such a long and varied theatrical career, one can only hope that Windsor’s absence from the stage will come to an end soon. And the thought of Peggy and Dot as Baby Jane and Blanche — oh please, won’t somebody make that happen?