MY BIT OF BRITAIN

 

Carry on and EastEnders actress Barbara Windsor on London.

My favourite bit of Britain has to be dear ‘ol London. It’s the best place in the world. I love everything about it. I was born Barbara-Anne Deeks in Shoreditch in the East End, and named after an ice-skating star Barbara-Ann Scott.

I was living in London during the Blitz in World War II. I was a just a kid, of course, and found it all very exciting. My special friend at school was a little girl called Margaret and every morning she’d sit on a wall at the top of the road waiting for me. We used to enjoy searching through the previous night’s damage, clambering over the debris. Then one day she wasn’t there. She’d been killed by some flying shrapnel while waiting for me. That was when my mother decided I should be evacuated as soon as possible. Of course, I didn’t want to leave my beloved London but I was sent away anyway to Blackpool.

But even at five years of age, I was a true Londoner and could not wait to return. I used to write to mum telling her I didn’t like it in Blackpool and that the food was rotten. When I finally got back home I won a scholarship to our Lady’s Convent School and decided I wanted to be a nun! Can you imagine it: Barbara Windsor – a nun? Sounds like a Carry On film script. But I soon got over the nun phase when a few years later I joined the Aida Foster Stage School. I made my theatrical debut in the Golders Green pantomime at the age of thirteen. A year later I was in the West End in Love from Judy.

I’d been so lucky. I’d completed my first major film role in Sparrers can’t sing and the film was a sensation both here in the USA where it made history as the first British film to have subtitles due to the Cockney dialogue. I remember being invited to America to promote the film. I ended up on every major television chat show. It was great. I even had a top 30 hit with the song Sparrers can’t sing. ...

Barbara Windsor was talking to Bruna Zanelli and this interview in full first appeared in 'In Britain' magazine.

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