Jaime Winstone has revealed she was sent ‘signs’ by the late Barbara Windsor that she should take on her role of Peggy Mitchell in a special flashback episode of EastEnders.
The actress, 37, admitted she was ‘scared’ to take on the star’s iconic role in the one-off episode, and she had to ‘think about it properly’ when she was offered the part.
Speaking on Thursday’s This Morning, Jaime added that she ‘loved’ the chance to play one of Barbara’s iconic characters in an ‘epic’ flashback episode, which focuses on the Mitchell family as they’re thrown into turmoil.
Candid: Jaime Winstone has revealed she was sent ‘signs’ by the late Barbara Windsor that she should take on her role of Peggy Mitchell in a special flashback episode of EastEnders
Jaime told hosts Ruth Langsford and Rylan Clark that she got the chance to meet Barbara when she previously played her in a 2017 biopic.
She said: ‘I didn’t get to Peggy [when she portrayed Barbara Windsor previously in her biopic] so this is a real bookend of my journey [playing Peggy] and I had to shake that Carry On-esque and it took a long time to shake that wiggle and that giggle.
‘But I got to implement all the stuff personally with Barbara… I got to see her at home and I got to sit around the piano and sing with her.’
‘She was so gorgeous and so generous with her time and had so much love and energy.’
Transformed: The actress admitted she was ‘scared’ to take on the star’s iconic soap part in the one-off episode despite previously playing her in a BBC biopic
Proud: Speaking of Barbara she said: ‘She was so gorgeous and so generous with her time and had so much love and energy’
RIP: Barbara died in December 2020, six years after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, and two years after publicly revealing her health battle (pictured in December 2018)
Insight: She said: ‘It’s really about the family before the Mitchells became the Mitchells… and also see why Phil is who he is’
Barbara died in December 2020 at the age of 83, two years after her husband Scott Mitchell publicly shared she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Jaime is set to play Mitchelle matriarch Peggy in a special flashback episode of EastEnders that will air on Monday 5th September, and sees the family facing hardship as they struggle to get by in the late 1970s.
She explained: ‘It’s really about the family before the Mitchells became the Mitchells… and also see why Phil is who he is. It’s set in 1979, the backdrop is London, grim, quite skint, there’s rubbish on the streets… and different for women then, women knew their place and did the cooking, the cleaning and were very proud home keepers…
‘It’s a turbulent episode – there’s lots to take in. It’s fast paced… you’ll see a more vulnerable side to her. It’s the making of how Peggy Mitchell became Peggy Mitchell.’
Torn: Discussing the moment she was called to take on the role, she said: ‘It was scary. ‘I had to think about it properly’
‘Signs’: Jaime then revealed: ‘I did sort of speak to her and say, ”is this the right thing for me? Am I allowed to do it?” And I had a few signs’
Sharing her response when she got the call to play a young Peggy, Jaime added: ‘It was scary.
‘I had to think about it properly, I had a deep chat with my agents about it but when it’s an opportunity like this – Peggy Mitchell – the landlady of our nation – it’s an honour for me.
‘She’s such a tough mum and she really believed in her boys and that deep protection. And you know I got a lot of that from Barbara myself, I put a lot of that into it, and once I put that wig on… that was it.’
Jaime then revealed: ‘I did sort of speak to her and say, ”is this the right thing for me? Am I allowed to do it?” And I had a few signs.’
Asked whether viewers could see more of her on The Square, she added: ‘Watch this space! I really love the idea of doing a working class period drama – going back and doing something in the 70s was just epic.’
On Wednesday EastEnders shared a first look image of the young Mitchell family that will appear in the flashback episode next month.
A newly released dramatic family portrait, taken in a conventional 1970s dining room, showed Jaime Winstone at the centre as the family matriarch Peggy Mitchell.
Blast from the past! On Wednesday EastEnders shared a first look image of the young Mitchell family that will appear in the flashback episode next month
Peggy is flanked by her sons, the infamous Mitchell brothers Phil and Grant, played by Daniel Delaney and Teddy Jay respectively, while a young Billy Mitchell, who will be portrayed by George Greenland, lurks in the background.
The image also gives fans of the BBC One soap a taste of characters from EastEnders history that have never been seen on screen before.
Sitting at the dining table is Peggy’s husband Eric, played by George Russo, and Charlie Mitchell, Billy’s older brother played by Charlie Heptinstall, is positioned next to his brother in the corner of the room.
During the episode, Peggy will have her hands full keeping the household in line while cracks are beginning to show in her marriage to Eric, while Phil and Eric are busy vying for the title of man of the house, leading to rising tensions.
Billy and Charlie’s father Stephen, played by Dean Roberts, will also appear in the flashback episode, along with Henry Garrett as Archie and Rose Reynolds as Glenda.
Stars: Jaime (right) portrayed the soap stalwart in the BBC biopic Babs in 2017, playing Barbara Windsor (left) in her 20s and 30s
Elsewhere in the special, Archie is up to his usual tricks as wife Glenda watches over their daughters Ronnie and Roxy, trying to keep the girls out of trouble.
As present day Phil grapples with growing pressure from DCI Keeble, audiences will be taken on a journey back to his youth where clues to his present will be revealed.
Revelations from the past may also afford viewers an insight into the truth behind DCI Keeble’s vendetta against the Mitchell family.
Peggy Mitchell was originally played by Dame Barbara Windsor, who joined the long-running soap in 1994 before becoming its biggest star.
Dame Barbara died in December 2020 aged 83 having been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014.
Dame Barbara’s on-screen sons Grant and Phil, played by Ross Kemp and Steve McFadden, have been at the centre of some of the BBC One soap’s most explosive storylines over the years, as has Peggy’s daughter, Sam, originally played by Danniella Westbrook, with Kim Medcalf taking over the role in the early 2000s.
The EastEnders Mitchell family flashback special will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on September 5 at 7.30pm.
Legendary: The matriarch of the Mitchell family was a role inhabited by Dame Barbara Windsor, who joined the long-running soap in 1994 before becoming its biggest star (Dame Barbara pictured as Peggy in EastEnders in 2016)