What's Happening in Bradford blog

Eastenders star Barbara Windsor is thrilled with Bradford honour

Barbara Windsor was recalling happy memories of her time working in Bradford when she came to the city to receive a Lifetime Achievement award.

The national treasure, who is the star of Carry On films and Eastenders was recognised at the Bradford International Film Festival for her work. The actress was interviewed by the festival’s co-director Tom Vincent before a screening of her 1964 film Sparrers Can’t Sing.

“I’m thrilled to get this award. I don’t expect awards, I never did. I’m 75 this year and I still feel very starstruck,” Miss Windsor said.

“I was last in Bradford about 20 years ago, I think it was Guys and Dolls at the Alhambra. I did Aladdin there in the 1970s too. Bradford was a lovely friendly place, it took me back to how the East End used to be.”

She said during her interview at the National Media Museum that she was pleased that the festival had chosen to screen Sparrers Can’t Sing which tells the story of life in London’s East End on the early 1960s. The festival also showed Carry on Spying and screwball comedy Crooks in Cloisters.

“My career has always been rooted in theatre and Sparrers Can’t Sing came out of Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Royal workshops,” she said. “They didn’t want me in the film but Joan said, ‘if you don’t have Babs I won’t do it’. Then I ended up being nominated for a Bafta!

“Those workshops produced great actors like Victor Spinetti, Roy Kinnear and Brian Murphy. It was a great way for young actors to get into the business. These days they go straight into soap and the day after they appear on telly they’re in the papers and getting mobbed.

“When I went into EastEnders it was all right for me because I’d already been in the business for a long time. If I’m feeling down I go out and get my fix of public.”

The actress was born Barbara Ann Deeks and has been acting for over half a century. In the 1990s she joined Eastenders as Mitchell matriarch Peggy.

Festival co-director Tom Vincent commented that Miss Windsor was the “very definition of a national treasure”.

He added: “As our selection of her early 1960s films will show, she is also an arresting screen presence that has earned her both Bafta plaudits and mass affection.”

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