During her time in Albert Square, the original Walford matriarch was involved in many of the soap’s most memorable storylines along with the rest of her on-screen “faaaaaamily”.
The landlady of her beloved Queen Vic was a fixture on our screens from 1991 – first played by Jo Warne, before Barbara took over the role in 1994 and truly made it her own – and despite leaving Albert Square in 2010, she continued to pop back for guest appearances.
Peggy beat breast cancer twice, enjoyed many scraps with the likes of Pat Butcher and Sharon Watts, and shouted “Get outta my pub!” more times than we’ve had pub lunches.
As we mourn the loss of one of TV’s greatest stars, we take a look back at Barbara’s most memorable moments as the formidable Peggy Mitchell.
The original Peggy Mitchell’s first appearance
While it seems impossible to believe now, Barbara Winsdor wasn’t the first actress to play Peggy Mitchell. The character – who was very different to the one we know and love now – made her first appearance in 1991, played by Jo Warne.
Barbara Winsdor’s first episode as Peggy
It wasn’t until 1994 that Barbara took over the role, making her first appearance as Peggy when she paid a visit to son Phil (Steve McFadden) in hospital.
Peggy vs. Pauline
Viewers saw a different side to Peggy when she banned Mark Fowler (Todd Carty) from the Vic, wrongly believing he had AIDs. His mother Pauline (Wendy Richards) soon took matters into her own hands and told the landlady exactly what she thought of her, which ended up in a scrap, obviously.
Peggy tells her family she has cancer
The Mitchell family was rocked by the news that Peggy had breast cancer in 1996. The emotional plot allowed Babs to get her teeth stuck into her her first big storyline since joining the soap, and her portrayal of Peggy’s battle with the disease won widespread praise from viewers and critics alike.
The disease then returned three years later, forcing Peggy to have a mastectomy.
YOU BITCH! YOU COW!
A piece of EastEnders history was created in 1998, when Peggy and Pat came to blows in one of the soap’s most iconic scenes ever. Glasses were thrown, tables were turned over, but 18 years on, we’re STILL living for the line “You bitch!”, “You cow!”.
Peggy discovers Pat and Frank’s affair
After Peggy discovered that husband Frank had been having an affair with his ex-wife Pat, she announced the news to a packed pub on Bonfire Night 2000.
After reading out the letter Frank had written to explain he was leaving her, she dished out the best slaps soap has ever seen, before uttering the fabulous line, “I hope you all enjoyed the fireworks. Goodnight.”
Sharon Watts takes over the Vic
Still not having forgiven Sharon for all the troubled she’d caused between her sons Grant (Ross Kemp) and Phil years earlier, Peggy was horrified when Letitia Dean’s character was revealed to be the mystery buyer of the Vic in 2000.
Peggy finds out Frank’s not dead
After Frank fled to Spain in the wake of his affair with Pat, Peggy was shocked to hear that he had died in 2002 and she and Pat headed out to Spain to pay their last respects.
However, it turned out Frank had faked his own death as part of a scam, with Peggy finding out he was still alive when he turned up to his own funeral, resulting in this comical scene.
Peggy proves Chrissie killed Den
With daughter Sam (Kim Medcalfe) in the frame for Den Watts’ murder, Peggy later discovered proof that it was his wife Chrissie (Tracy-Ann Oberman) who had bumped him off, and stormed his funeral. “Chrissie Watts - MURDERER!” she screeched, before pushing the killer into Den’s grave.
“Tell Den you’re sorry! Tell Den!” Peggy screamed.
Archie steals the Vic
Having discovered Archie’s (Larry Lamb) evil ways after her wedding day to her former brother-in-law, he sought ultimate revenge on Peggy by taking the Vic off her, along with the help of Frank’s daughter Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks).
Christmas 2009 saw the Mitchells spending the festive period homeless after being chucked out of the pub.
Peggy and Pat trash the Vic
Outraged at Roxy Mitchell’s determination to sell the Vic, after being left the pub following Archie’s death, Peggy and Pat set about ensuring that prospective buyers were put off purchasing the boozer.
Peggy and Pat booze it up
While viewers loved it when Peggy and Pat were sparring, their mischief making together made for brilliant viewing too. This is perfectly demonstrated in the scenes which saw them get drunk in the back of an ice cream van together, after rushing Heather Trott (Cheryl Ferguson) to hospital in it, much to Phil’s disgust.
Peggy meets Boris Johnson
Despite vowing to give the then-London Mayor Boris Johnson a piece of her mind as she prepared to meet him in 2010, Peggy proved to be a complete charmer to the now-prime minister when he popped by the Vic for a pint, much to the amusement of Roxy (Rita Simons) and Sam (Danniella Westbrook).
Peggy watches the Vic burn
Having failed to stop a drunken Phil from setting fire to the Queen Vic, Peggy could only watch on in horror as the EastEnd boozer went up in flames.
“Let it burn!” she wailed. “Let it BUUUURRRNN!”
Peggy leaves Walford
With her beloved pub now reduced to a burnt-out shell, Peggy decided it was time to leave Walford behind for good. Her last scene as a regular character saw her tearfully walking through Albert Square, stopping to look up at what remained of the Vic, before passing on by.
Soap bosses even asked original theme tune composer Simon May to come up with a special version of the track to air over her last scene, which was named ‘Peggy’s Theme’ in her honour.
Peggy says goodbye to Pat
With Peggy living in Spain when Pat died in 2012, when she paid a brief visit to Walford in 2013, there was one thing she needed to do before she left – say goodbye to her long-term frenemy.
In a post-titles scene, Peggy turned up at Pat’s old house armed with a bottle of vodka to leave on her doorstep, before leaving the Square in the back of a cab.
Mick tells Peggy to ‘Get outta my pub’
Peggy then popped up again to celebrate EastEnders’ 30th anniversary in 2015, coming face-to-face with new landlord of the Queen Vic, Mick Carter (Danny Dyer). However, the tables soon turned on the former pub boss, as he wasted no time in throwing her out of HIS pub.
Peggy’s back with some devastating news
Peggy then made a shock return to the soap in January 2016, in scenes that had been kept under wraps ahead of transmission. But while viewers were delighted to see her again, their happiness was short lived as she shared some devastating news with son Phil – her cancer had returned, and this time is was terminal.
The storyline followed Barbara’s decision to leave the character behind for good.
Peggy takes her own life
Peggy returned to Walford later that year after her condition worsened, and was reunited on screen with her other son Grant, after Ross Kemp reprised his role especially for Barbara’s last episodes.
Unbeknown to her family, Peggy had made the decision that she was going to take her own life rather than suffer the painful side effects of cancer further.
“I will go as I have lived – straight back, head high, like a queen,” she told her late friend Pat, who appeared as a vision in Peggy’s final moments.
GET OUTTA MY PUB!
Of course, what round-up of Peggy’s best moments would be complete without her legendary catchphrase.