Barbara Windsor's husband convinced former 'EastEnders' boss Dominic Treadwell-Collins to kill off her character by revealing she was "really struggling" to learn her lines.

Barbara Windsor

Barbara Windsor

The 80-year-old actress reprised her role as Peggy Mitchell for the final time in the BBC One soap in May 2016 when she was killed off following a suggestion by the 'Carry On' star, who has now been revealed to have Alzheimer's disease.

At the time, the then-exec producer was reluctant to have iconic character Peggy meet her maker, until Barbara's husband Scott Mitchell had a one-on-one chat with Dominic to reveal part of her symptoms without giving him "the full situation".

He said: "Barbara contacted the executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins to make the suggestion and, at first, he said, 'I can't kill an iconic character'.

"So I went to see him and, without giving the full situation, confided that she was really struggling to learn lines and wouldn't ever be coming back again after this."

While Barbara was given an autocue on set to help her with her lines, Scott admits she didn't need to use the device during filming and he is "incredibly proud" of her performance.

He said: "I asked that she have an autocue on set, just as a safety net. But in the end, she just used it to refresh her memory between takes. If you saw the Peggy death scenes, you could see she wasn't reading it.

"Ironically, I think it's some of the best work she ever did. I was incredibly proud of her."

Scott first noticed a difference in Barbara - who played former Queen Vic landlady Peggy from 1994 to 2016 - in 2009, and in 2012 he encouraged his wife to see a doctor.

She underwent numerous tests over the next 18 months before being diagnosed with Alzheimer's, but was given the all-clear to keep working.

Scott added to The Sun newspaper: "Dr Kennedy said she could continue working and I was so relieved. She's had some pretty traumatic ups and downs in her life and she always got through them by focusing on her work.

"She's a mini warrior, and this was no exception. So if ever I tried to talk about the diagnosis, she'd get a little bit defensive and say, 'I'm just a bit forgetful. It's my age.' "

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