Barbara Windsor
Barbara Windsor plays Mitchell matriarch Peggy on the BBC soap.

EastEnders legend Barbara Windsor has slammed the long-running BBC soap, claiming that it is in a "state" and desperately needed working on.

During a candid sitdown on ITV's This Morning, the 76-year-old actress, who plays pint-sized matriarch Peggy Mitchell, said she was unimpressed with the show.

Windsor's character spent 16 years in Walford as the on-off Queen Vic landlady before leaving for Portugal in 2010. She is expected to reprise her role for a one-off appearance.

"It's in a bit of a state, the show at the moment," she said. "It's not getting there, we're third. We've never been third ever so it needs working on," she said.

The soap favourite also claimed that the decision to kill off Pat Butcher, played by Pam St Clement, was a "disgrace" and ultimately contributed to falling viewing figures.

She said that St Clement rang her to reveal the news she was being axed from the show.

"We never understood it," Windsor said.

"I gathered - and she told me - she wanted a little time off and next thing I know she's phoning me up saying 'can I come and see you?' and she looked at me, her face with big tears, and she went, 'They're killing me off, Bar.'

"Nobody knew why, nobody, and by God isn't she missed?"

Windsor, who made her name in the cheesy 60s Carry On film series, said: "I hope she don't mind me saying that. I think everybody knew she didn't want to go - it was a shock to her. She's a good bird and she's a good lady to have in a show like that."

Windsor's scathing comments followed a slump in viewing figures to less than five million. The programme also lost out to Coronation Street for Best Soap at the British Soap Awards for the second year running.

EastEnders bosses were hoping that the dramatic returns of well-known past favourites including Windsor, Michael French (as David Wickes) and Sam Womack (Ronnie Mitchell) would help claw back viewers from rivals.

Peggy Mitchell's return to Albert Square will air at 8pm Friday (20 September) on BBC One.