It's unquestionably the end of an era. National treasure Dame Barbara Windsor will bid farewell to Albert Square once and for all as her character Peggy Mitchell succumbs to terminal cancer, with her emotional funeral marking her exit in an upcoming episode.
The much-loved matriarch, famed for her flaxen beehive and bellowing cockney tones, has just received the devastating news that her cancer has spread to the brain and has days to live. After she passes, her funeral will reunite a league of old and new faces as the EastEnders veteran gets a send-off to remember.
Photos from the BBC have emerged of the emotional goodbye as a hearse pulls up to the church in a horse-drawn carriage and the coffin is adorned with beautiful white and pink roses, spelling out the word "Mum". A few characters from the past will pay their respects at the ceremony, including Danniella Westbrook, who reprises her role as Peggy's daughter Sam Mitchell for the one-of-a-kind storyline, amongst some other familiar mourners.
Sam will tail her grieving siblings Grant (Ross Kemp) and Phil (Steve McFadden) as the solemn scenes unravel next month, whilst Peggy's niece Roxy Mitchell (Rita Simons), Billy Mitchell (Perry Fenwick) and Jack Branning (Scott Maslen) will also make cameos.
Peggy's final episode will air next Tuesday 17 May and Windsor has already finished her work on the BBC soap, with her last scenes prompting viewers to lament their sadness. One soap source said: "It's going to be very emotional. Peggy has touched the lives of many of the residents in Walford, so saying goodbye to her won't be easy," Mirror Online reports.
Discussing her soap legacy with The Mirror, Barbara Windsor said: "Peggy is a character close to my heart but I made the decision a while ago that I need to say goodbye to her once and for all. Otherwise she will always be there, urging me to go back. I realised it is time for me and the audience to say our final farewells to the lady I've loved for years."
The 78-year-old actress, who became the queen of the small screen during the 1960s and 70s in the Carry On films, came up with idea of killing off Peggy, as she said that as long as the character was alive, she'd always be drawn back to playing her. "I did my crying afterwards," she said of the last scenes.
Watch EastEnders tonight at 7.30pm on BBC1.