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Dame Barbara Windsor: EastEnders legend’s role reversal during Dundee visit

Dame Barbara Windsor.
Dame Barbara Windsor.

Dame Barbara Windsor enjoyed a role reversal when she popped in for a coffee in Dundee 20 years ago.

The actress, who has died at the age of 83, became a household name during her masterful portrayal of Queen Vic landlady Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders.

But being on the other side of the bar obviously suited her as she sat down for a brew at the official opening of Costa Coffee in Commercial Street in September 2000 and happily chatted to fans.

Dame Barbara Windsor pictured in Dundee in 2000.

Book promotion

Dame Barbara, who first found fame in her role as a buxom blonde in the Carry On films, had earlier been signing copies of her new book All of Me at Waterstones.

The EastEnders star was then asked to view the coffee house which is situated directly above the bookshop where a large crowd had gathered ahead of the official opening.

Dame Barbara with (left to right) Pam St Clement (Pat), Mike Reid (Frank Butcher), Ross Kemp (Grant), Steve McFadden (Phil), Shaun Williamson (Barry), and Tony Caunter (Roy).

Everyone in the coffee shop enjoyed spending time in her company.

A few Dundee worthies even warned her that her husband Frank Butcher in EastEnders was having an affair!

Costa Coffee manager Raymond Daly said at the time: “The appearance of Barbara Windsor definitely means this will be an opening that I’ll never forget.”

Dame Barbara finished off her coffee before continuing her promotional tour.

Dame Barbara became a national treasure for her portrayal of Peggy Mitchell

Dame Barbara Windsor unveiling a portrait of herself by Welsh artist Dan Llywelyn Hall.

The character of Peggy Mitchell was a Walford favourite from the moment she arrived in 1991 until the character’s death in 2016.

The feisty landlady was played by Jo Warne until Dame Barbara Windsor took over the role in 1994.

Peggy refused to take any nonsense from anyone and would sharply dispatch anyone who upset her with her catchphrase: “Get outta my pub!”.

During her time in Albert Square, Dame Barbara was part of some of the BBC soap’s most memorable scenes in the role.

We take look at some of them.

Breast cancer battle

The pint-sized publican battled breast cancer in 1996 and then again in 1999, when she decided to have a mastectomy.

Hundreds of viewers wrote to the BBC praising Dame Barbara and EastEnders for the way the difficult subject was tackled.


Peggy’s sharp tongue was not the only weapon in her arsenal – she also liked to give her enemies a good slap when she got really riled.

Several characters were on the receiving end over the years.

In 2000, Peggy discovered husband Frank Butcher (Mike Reid) was having an affair with his ex-wife Pat (Pam St Clement) and was planning to run away with her.

Peggy humiliated the couple in front of everyone in the Queen Vic by reading out a letter detailing their plan to flee.

“One thing I’ve learned since I’ve been married to Mr Butcher is never underestimate his capacity to make a cock-up of things,” she cried before slapping them both.

The baseball bat

Peggy had high hopes for a fun family Christmas after finding out about Frank and Pat but her plans went awry.

Alone in the pub, she took out her frustration on the fixtures and fittings, smashing it all up with a baseball bat.

Peggy vs Chrissie

One of Peggy’s finest moments took place after her daughter Sam was framed for the murder of Den Watts (Leslie Grantham) by his wife Chrissie (Tracy-Ann Oberman).

When Peggy discovered the truth, she stormed to the graveside and screamed: “Chrissie Watts! Murderer!”

She then lunged at Chrissie and pushed her into her husband’s grave.

“Tell Den you’re sorry! Tell Den!” Peggy screeched.

The fire

In 2010, a crack-crazed Phil (Steve McFadden) torched the Queen Vic.

Peggy escaped but was devastated.

The blaze led her to take stock of her life and she decided to leave Albert Square.

“Go on, I’ll be fine. Go on, darling, go back inside,” she urged Phil, as she walked away.

Peggy’s death

In 2016, Peggy took an overdose after breaking the news to son Grant (Ross Kemp) that her cancer had returned and taken a “proper grip” on her.

In a poignant final scene, after smelling cigarette smoke throughout the episode, Peggy hallucinated the return of her former love rival-turned-friend Pat Butcher (Pam St Clement), puffing away in thick pink lipstick and with “earrings rattling like Marley’s bleeding chains”.

Speaking to her friend, who passed away in the soap in 2012, Peggy said: “I’m being eaten alive and it hurts and I can’t wait.”

She added: “I will go as I have lived: straight back, head high, like a queen.”

The Queen meeting Dame Barbara and Steve McFadden on set.