ROSS Kemp paid touching tribute to Dame Barbara Windsor at her funeral yesterday, saying: “The public loved her, she loved them back and they loved her even more for it.”
Hailing her “common touch” the actor — son Grant Mitchell in EastEnders — said: “If you walked down the road with Bar, you knew a five-minute walk would take you at least ten to 15 minutes.
Ross Kemp paid touching tribute to Dame Barbara Windsor at her funeral
The actor hailed Barara’s ‘common touch’
“She had time for everyone and anyone, no matter who or what they were.
“She was a diplomat who could walk with queens and princes, gangsters and politicians but she never lost the common touch — she was just as happy having a quick chat with a plumber, baker or candlestick maker.”
Barbara’s husband, Scott Mitchell, has given us permission to share Ross’ eulogy.
The 83-year-old legend’s funeral service was filled with floral tributes including one evoking her famous catchphrase “Saucy”.
Scott Mitchell, her hubby of 20 years, chose her iconic, topless Carry On Camping photo for the order of service, adding her famous quote: “That picture will follow me to the end.” Scott wrote: “Yup!!! Rest in peace my darling.”
Grieving Scott led the procession at Golders Green Crematorium, North London, watched by celebrities including David Walliams, Matt Lucas and Christopher Biggins.
Mourners wore masks and abided by strict Covid rules.
The coffin arrived alongside flowers spelling “Babs” and “The Dame”. A mock pub sign in the style of the soap’s Queen Vic read: The Queen Peggy.
Emotional Ross gave a eulogy describing their 26-year friendship.
With Scott’s permission, Ross has shared his words with HOAR.
He began: “Dame Barbara Windsor, MBE, not a bad epitaph for a girl from Stoke Newington.
“But then there was much more to Barbara than the many honours she received.
“She was a true star that burned brighter and longer than many of her famous contemporaries.
“She was truly talented, a triple threat: She could sing, she could dance and she could act.
“A night at the theatre with Barbara could end up with an impromptu knees-up, including songs and a tap dance. She was a star with incredible energy.”
Ross described how the Peggy Mitchell star got a standing ovation from the EastEnders crew after her first scene.
But it was the episode where Grant had to hit Peggy that he said he would never forget.
Ross told mourners: “I tried to have it removed because effectively I’d be hitting a national treasure.
“The bosses were having none of it. So come the day I explained to Barbara that I would be doing a gentle stage slap that would resemble someone stroking a rare orchid.
“I do the gentle stage slap and Bar goes over a dressing table like she’s been hit by Mike Tyson.
“She landed on the sofa, looked into my eyes and said, ‘Grant, how could you’.
“After transmission, I was getting around five black bin liners of hate mail a week. It’s down to only a couple a month these days.”
Ross praised Scott and spoke of their courage following her Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 2014 — which was made public four years later. He added:
“Now, a few men may have loved her too, but there was only one true love of her life. And that was always Scott.
“Twenty-seven years they were together, and married for 20 of them. When they first got together, people said they wouldn’t last; how wrong they were.
“They spent so many fabulous years, working together, working for each other, and truly loving each other.
“When the diagnosis came they both knew there would be no happy ending. They kept it to themselves and many relationships at this point would have failed but they decided to face it together.
“In 2018, they turned a negative into a positive. They went to No10 to demand money for Alzheimer’s, dementia research and social care. Barbara and Scott’s Dementia Revolution raised £4million.”
Ross ended his tribute by saying: “Barbara, what a life you had.
“You were a star of stage and screen for some 60 years.
“You were brave enough to publicly face Alzheimer’s and help remove the stigma attached to it.
“You were a Dame of the British Empire, a Member of the British Empire, the nation loved you, we loved you. And we all will miss you very much.”
Fans waiting outside commented that without lockdown restrictions the service would have been attended by hundreds of people, with thousands lining the streets.
Another restriction was no songs could be sung. The funeral was introduced with Frank Sinatra’s On the Sunny Side of the Street. The hymn Jerusalem also rang out.
But the most emotional piece of music was when Dame Barbara’s own song Sparrows Can’t Sing — from her 1963 film of the same name — was played.
Sun columnist and close friend Jane Moore attended with husband Gary Farrow.
Jane — who spoke to Barbara in interviews about her dementia battle — told HOAR: “It was an incredibly emotional service.
“To think that larger-than-life person is not with us anymore is just unthinkable.
“But her legacy will live on with all the work that she did.”
The actress’s tireless charity efforts were praised by the Royal British Legion which tweeted: “Today we say goodbye to the much loved Dame Barbara Windsor.
“We will forever be grateful for her time supporting the Armed Forces community over the years.”
Dame Barbara found fame playing a buxom blonde in the bawdy Carry On comedies — starring in nine films between 1964 and 1974.
She later became a national treasure as EastEnders’ feisty landlady Peggy Mitchell.
The BBC soap paid tribute last week adding the words “in loving memory of Dame Barbara Windsor MBE” to an episode’s end credits.
- T donate to Alzheimer’s Research UK in memory of Dame Barbara, please visit: www.justgiving.com/DameBarbara
GOT a story? RING HOAR on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL [email protected]