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What a Carry On: Barbara Windsor ~ Cockney Knockout

September 20, 2015

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Talent…

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… These are the lovely ladies and gorgeous girls of eras gone by whose beauty, ability, electricity and all-round x-appeal deserve celebration and – ahem – salivation here at George’s Journal…

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Ah, that ‘Cockney cackle’, that irresistible flirty-often-mock-coy demeanour and that, er, décolletage… it could only be Barbara ‘Babs’ Windsor. She (literally) filled out so many Carry Ons, the classic British comedy movie series, that she became as much a national institution as her ‘more talented’ comic contemporaries in the loveably cheapo cheeky flicks – plus, she not only outlived most of them, she’s also still working and much adored. Quite frankly, it’s a wonder why she hasn’t made it into this blog’s Talent corner before now – in the words of the irrepressible Sid James, cor blimey…!

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Profile

Name: Barbara Windsor (real name: Barbara Ann Deeks)

Nationality: English

Profession: Actress, singer and broadcaster

Born: August 6 1937, Shoreditch, London

Height: 4ft 10in

Known for: As the (usually) perky, cheeky, flirty and bosomy good-time girl who often led on/ fended off/ eventually gave in to Sid James’s womanising lead in nine of the Carry Ons – Spying (1964), Doctor (1967), Camping and Again Doctor (both 1969), Henry (1971), Matron and Abroad (both 1972), Girls (1973) and Dick (1974). In later years, she enjoyed a popular renaissance thanks to playing matriarch Peggy Mitchell on BBC prime-time soap EastEnders for 16 years, beginning in 1994. Having emerged as a protégé of Joan Littlewood, she first appeared in the radical and influential East London playwright and impresario’s musical Fings Ain’t Wot They Used To Be and film Sparrers Can’t Sing (both 1963) and also starred in the comic flick Crooks In Cloisters (1964), the movie musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) and as ‘Saucy Aunty’ in ITV children’s series Worzel Gummidge (1979-81).

Also on stage, she took roles in Littlewood’s musicals Oh, What A Lovely War! (1964) and Twang (1965-66), Marie Lloyd biopic Sing A Rude Song (1970), opposite Vanessa Redgrave in Tony Richardson’s take on The Threepenny Opera (1972), Twelfth Night at the Chichester Festival in the mid-’70s, Carry On London (1975-76) and in a Kenneth Williams-directed version of Entertaining Mr Sloan (1981), which was revived for a UK tour 12 years later. She’s remained a familiar face in recent years, often appearing as a TV guest, in patomime and adverts, and provided her voice (as the Dormouse) in the Hollywood blockbuster Alice In Wonderland (2010), for whose sequel Alice Through The Looking Glass (2016) she’ll return, and as an irregular host on the Beeb’s Radio 2 station.

Married three times (infamously first time around to East End crime figure Ronnie Knight, around which time she apparently had affairs with Sid James, George Best and Reggie Kray), she was awarded an MBE in 2000 and the Freedom of the City of London in 2010.

Strange but true: Often dismissed as mere screen totty or a mediocre soap thesp, she was nominated for a BAFTA award for her performance in Sparrers Can’t Sing and a Tony award for her work on Broadway in Oh, What A Lovely War!

Peak of fitness: It can only be and has to be… turning on Jim Dale’s Dr Nookie – and every heterosexual male in the cinema audience with a pulse – as the wilfully sexy and utterly unforgettably scantily clad Goldie Locks in Carry On Again Doctor (1969)

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