Ross Kemp says 'the public loved her, and she loved them' in touching eulogy to Dame Barbara Windsor

ROSS Kemp paid touching tribute to Dame Barbara Windsor at her funeral yesterday, saying: “The public loved her, she loved them back and they loved her even more for it.”

Hailing her “common touch” the actor — son Grant Mitchell in EastEnders — said: “If you walked down the road with Bar, you knew a five-minute walk would take you at least ten to 15 minutes.


“She had time for everyone and anyone, no matter who or what they were.

“She was a diplomat who could walk with queens and princes, gangsters and politicians but she never lost the common touch — she was just as happy having a quick chat with a plumber, baker or candlestick maker.”

Barbara's husband, Scott Mitchell, has given us permission to share Ross' eulogy.

The 83-year-old legend’s funeral service was filled with floral tributes including one evoking her famous catchphrase “Saucy”.

Scott Mitchell, her hubby of 20 years, chose her iconic, topless Carry On Camping photo for the order of service, adding her famous quote: “That picture will follow me to the end.” Scott wrote: “Yup!!! Rest in peace my darling.”

Grieving Scott led the procession at Golders Green Crematorium, North London, watched by celebrities including David Walliams, Matt Lucas and Christopher Biggins.

Mourners wore masks and abided by strict Covid rules.

The coffin arrived alongside flowers spelling “Babs” and “The Dame”. A mock pub sign in the style of the soap’s Queen Vic read: The Queen Peggy.

Ross Kemp’s full eulogy

Dame Barbara Windsor, MBE, not a bad epitaph for a girl from Stoke Newington.

But then, as we've heard, there was so much more to Barbara than the many honours she received.

She was “a true star”, that burned brighter and longer than many of her famous contemporaries.

She was truly talented, a triple threat: she could sing, she could dance and she could act.

She was beautiful, sexy, intelligent,strong and not to be crossed.

She had a wonderful sense of humour, a rapier wit that could cut you to the quick (I should know – I was on the end of it more than once).

But for me, it was Barbara's generosity that truly stood out, particularly with her time.

And maybe that was what made her a national treasure.

If you walked down the road with Bar, you knew a five minute walk would take you at least ten to fifteen minutes.

She had time for everyone and anyone, no matter who or what they were.

The public loved her, she loved them back and they loved her even more for it.

A night at the theatre with Barbara could end up with an impromptu knees up, including songs and a tap dance. She was a star with incredible energy.

There are not many celebrities, if any in recent times, who have had such a connection with their audience.

She was also a diplomat, who could walk with queens and princes, gangsters and politicians but she never lost the common touch, she was just as happy having a quick chat with a plumber, a baker or a candlestick maker.

In particular, London taxi drivers seemed to take her to their hearts. I often thought, if she wanted to, she could have raised her own army of cabbies.

I first met Bar twenty-six years ago with her future husband Scott at a charity do.

Desperately trying to get the “Carry on Camping” image out of my mind, I found them both to be lovely and down-to-earth.

But I had no idea what loyal and loving friends they both would become.

I also knew from the moment I met her that she should play Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders, and so did she.

So with some clever and often quite blunt lobbying, the BBC finally decided it would be a good idea.

And she landed the part that cemented her into the hearts of the British public.

So Barbara's first scene was on the lot with me. We left make up going through the lines and she asked me to hold her hand.

She was shaking with nerves. Because unlike many who had walked on to that set for the first time before (like me), no-one knew who they were, or particularly cared.

Barbara had twenty-five million people watching her every move. As we arrived at the set, she stopped, asked me to hold a polystyrene cup of tea, was discreetly sick into a napkin, placed it into her handbag, took a swig of tea and said, “Let's get on with it, Darling”.

Needless to say, she nailed the scene, got a standing ovation from the crew and that was the start of a true friendship that lasted twenty-six years.

We loved working together; in between scenes we would sit at the back of the Vic on the stairs gossiping and laughing.

Barbara would read the papers every day and was always up for a “debate”. I soon realised that once Bar had taken you into her confidence she engendered a loyalty I have only felt with my own family.

Bar was old school, always knew her lines, was always on time and always looked immaculate. And she put in the hours.

She truly cared about getting every scene right and she did, time after time. She also expected others to be as professional as she was and when they were not, she would let them know.

One scene that I will never forget was when Grant had to hit Peggy.

When I read the script, I tried to have it removed because effectively I would be hitting a national treasure. The bosses were having none of it.

So come the day of the scene, I explained to Barbara that I would be doing a gentle stage slap that would resemble someone stroking a rare orchid.

On action, I do the gentle stage slap and Bar goes over a dressing table, like she's been hit by Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis and Henry Cooper.

Taking vases and picture frames with her like a true professional stunt woman.

She landed on the sofa,looked into my eyes and said “Grant, how could you”. After transmission, I was getting around five black bin liners of hate mail a week.

I am very happy to report it's down to only a couple a month these days. But it was also testament to her athletic abilities, her ability as an actress and also the love the audience had for her.

Now, a few men may have loved her too, but there was only one true love of her life. And that was always Scott.

Twenty-seven years they were together, and married for twenty of them.

When they first got together, people said they wouldn't last; how wrong they were.

They spent so many fabulous years, working together, working for each other, and truly loving each other.

But when the diagnosis of Alzheimer's came in 2014, they both knew there would be no happy ending. They kept it to themselves and many relationships at this point would have failed but they decided to face it together.

In 2018, they turned a negative into a positive. They lobbied the government, and went to Number 10 to demand more money for Alzheimer's dementia research and social care.

Barbara and Scott's “Dementia Revolution” raised £4 million. But just as importantly, Barbara and Scott talking openly about dementia allowed others to do so and removed stigma attached to this awful disease.

Scott stayed by Barbara, helping her, washing her, picking her up when she fell out of bed, and never left her side, right to the very end.

Barbara's last words to me were “I just want you to have a happy life”.

Well, Barbara, what a life you had!

You were a star of stage and screen for some sixty years, you were brave enough to publicly face Alzheimer's and help remove the stigma attached to it, you were a Dame of the British Empire, you were a Member of the British Empire, the nation loved you, we loved you.

And we all will miss you very much.

Emotional Ross gave a eulogy describing their 26-year friendship.

With Scott’s permission, Ross has shared his words with The Sun.

He began: “Dame Barbara Windsor, MBE, not a bad epitaph for a girl from Stoke Newington.

“But then there was much more to Barbara than the many honours she received.

“She was a true star that burned brighter and longer than many of her famous contemporaries.

“She was truly talented, a triple threat: She could sing, she could dance and she could act.

“A night at the theatre with Barbara could end up with an impromptu knees-up, including songs and a tap dance. She was a star with incredible energy.”

Ross described how the Peggy Mitchell star got a standing ovation from the EastEnders crew after her first scene.

But it was the episode where Grant had to hit Peggy that he said he would never forget.

Ross told mourners: “I tried to have it removed because effectively I’d be hitting a national treasure.

“The bosses were having none of it. So come the day I explained to Barbara that I would be doing a gentle stage slap that would resemble someone stroking a rare orchid.

“I do the gentle stage slap and Bar goes over a dressing table like she’s been hit by Mike Tyson.

“She landed on the sofa, looked into my eyes and said, ‘Grant, how could you’.

“After transmission, I was getting around five black bin liners of hate mail a week. It’s down to only a couple a month these days.”

Ross praised Scott and spoke of their courage following her Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 2014 — which was made public four years later. He added:

“Now, a few men may have loved her too, but there was only one true love of her life. And that was always Scott.

“Twenty-seven years they were together, and married for 20 of them. When they first got together, people said they wouldn’t last; how wrong they were.

"They spent so many fabulous years, working together, working for each other, and truly loving each other.

“When the diagnosis came they both knew there would be no happy ending. They kept it to themselves and many relationships at this point would have failed but they decided to face it together.

"In 2018, they turned a negative into a positive. They went to No10 to demand money for Alzheimer’s, dementia research and social care. Barbara and Scott’s Dementia Revolution raised £4million.”

Ross ended his tribute by saying: “Barbara, what a life you had.

“You were a star of stage and screen for some 60 years.

“You were brave enough to publicly face Alzheimer’s and help remove the stigma attached to it.

“You were a Dame of the British Empire, a Member of the British Empire, the nation loved you, we loved you. And we all will miss you very much.”

Fans waiting outside commented that without ­lockdown restrictions the service would have been attended by hundreds of people, with thousands lining the streets.

Another restriction was no songs could be sung. The funeral was introduced with Frank Sinatra’s On the Sunny Side of the Street. The hymn Jerusalem also rang out.

But the most emotional piece of music was when Dame Barbara’s own song Sparrows Can’t Sing — from her 1963 film of the same name — was played.

Sun columnist and close friend Jane Moore attended with husband Gary Farrow.

Jane — who spoke to Barbara in interviews about her dementia battle — told The Sun: “It was an incredibly emotional ­service.

“To think that larger-than-life person is not with us anymore is just unthinkable.

“But her legacy will live on with all the work that she did.”

The actress’s tireless charity efforts were praised by the Royal British Legion which tweeted: “Today we say goodbye to the much loved Dame Barbara Windsor.

“We will forever be grateful for her time supporting the Armed Forces community over the years.”

Dame Barbara found fame playing a buxom blonde in the bawdy Carry On comedies — starring in nine films between 1964 and 1974.

She later became a national treasure as EastEnders’ feisty landlady Peggy Mitchell.

The BBC soap paid tribute last week adding the words “in loving memory of Dame Barbara Windsor MBE” to an episode’s end credits.

  • To donate to Alzheimer’s Research UK in memory of Dame Barbara, please visit: www.justgiving.com/DameBarbara

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