Carry On Doctor Babs! Barbara Windsor gets UEL arts doctorate

Actress Barbara Windsor. Picture: PA Images/Anwar Hussein

Actress Barbara Windsor. Picture: PA Images/Anwar Hussein - Credit: Anwar Hussein/EMPICS Entertainment

Much-loved Barbara Windsor—star of Carry On films and TV’s EastEnders—is being awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of East London.

The doctorate is being bestowed on her at a ceremony next Thursday at London’s 02 Arena.

Babs’s TV career spanning seven decades began in 1961 in the Rag Trade sitcom about an East End tailoring sweatshop.

She went on to star in films such as Joan Littlewood’s ‘Sparrers Can’t Sing’ two years later before joining Sid James in the ‘Carry On’ hits.

But Babs nowadays is best known for her role in the BBC’s EastEnders as the Old Vic pub landlady Peggy Mitchell, a role she has played for 16 years which earned her a ‘Lifetime Achievement’ accolade at the 2009 British Soap awards.

“This is a great honour for me because I have a deep connection with the East End,” said ‘cockney sparrow’ Babs.

“It was where I was born and it has played a huge part in my career and continues to inspire me.”

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Barbara was born in Shoreditch in 1937 to a market trader and dressmaker and lived several years at Mile End.

“If my mother was alive today,” Babs added, “she would proudly say—‘that’s my girl’!”

But her career goes back before her TV debut, when she was spotted at the age of 13 by a talent scout performing in a 1950 charity show. Her professional stage debut was in pantomime, before she hit the West End stage in Love from Judy.

Barbara was nominated for her honorary degree by UEL’s School of Arts and Digital Industries for “outstanding contribution to the Arts.”

She joins a famous line-up of celebrities with UEL doctorates. Last month it was veteran Hollywood film star Terence Stamp, 76, awarded by the same Arts and Digital Industries department.

He grew up in the East End during the Second World War and made his Big Screen debut in the 1962 film Billy Budd which earned him an Oscar nomination as well as ‘New Star of the Year’ at the Golden Globes. Stamp’s best-known roles include General Zod in ‘Superman’.