EastEnders' Jaime Winstone reveals Barbara Windsor's sign from beyond the grave

Jaime Winstone as a young Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders.
EastEnders will air a flashback episode next week. (Image credit: BBC)

EastEnders fans will see Jaime Winstone as young Peggy Mitchell in a special flashback episode set over 40 years ago, revealing dark secrets about the famous family’s past. 

Acclaimed actress Jaime, daughter of legendary British movie star Ray Winstone, played Barbara Windsor in Babs, the film of her life, back in 2017, and now she’s stepping into the late legend’s most famous role.

Jaime was close to Dame Barbara, who died in 2020, having been hand-picked to portray her in the biopic, and reveals a spooky sign that convinced her to play EastEnders character, Peggy.

“I have a deep connection to Barbara and ultimate respect,” says Jaime. “Peggy is such an iconic part and I wanted to do it justice, so I had a little word with Barbara, up above, to see what she thought about me doing it. 

“As I was deciding, a little blonde butterfly kept coming into my garden. We never normally get many butterflies because my dog, Donnie, always goes for them, but I thought: ‘That’s her!’ That was my sign from Barbara. Her husband Scott also approved it so I am completely honoured.” 

The time-travelling episode, showing on Monday, September 5, takes fans back to the winter of 1979 when Peggy is struggling to keep her family afloat, as teenage sons Phil and Grant clash with violent dad Eric and Britain is in the grip of economic turmoil. 

Walford 1979 flashback episode

EastEnders is travelling back to 1979 next week.  (Image credit: BBC)

In Babs, Jaime played Barbara during the era of the Carry On movies of the 1960s, pre-EastEnders, so getting the chance to play Peggy proved too tantalising an opportunity to turn down.

“It was an honour to step into Barbara’s shoes the first time and this was a chance to bookend my journey with her, which I felt hadn’t really finished,” says Jaime. “This version of Peggy is before the one we know and love, we see a softer, more vulnerable and slightly tender side. 

“But the cracks are starting to show as Phil and Grant shift from boys to becoming men, there’s a lot of fear and love that becomes quite explosive. Life wasn’t easy for Peggy, she was trying to be a housewife and mother, back then women didn’t get the opportunity work as it wasn’t considered their place. She was dead proud of her home and her life was about family values.” 

Peggy Mitchell talks to Billy Mitchell and Phil Mitchell

Jamie as the legendary Peggy Mitchell.  (Image credit: BBC)

Jaime admits to being a huge EastEnders fan and was thrilled to chat about delving into the Mitchells’ backstory with Steve McFadden, aka Phil. “He came on set and met the lovely actors playing the young Phil and Grant, he was gorgeous. Steve gave them a lot of advice, we shared notes and stories on Barbara and how magic it all was.

“Barbara always spoke very highly about the people at EastEnders and anyone who’s worked there says it’s like a giant extended family, you’re welcomed into this British institution – even though it’s very nerve-wracking!”

EastEnders airs Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 7.30 pm on BBC One — see our TV Guide for full listings. You can also catch up on episodes on BBC iPlayer now.