EastEnders' Barbara Windsor praises nurse adviser on Peggy Mitchell final storyline

Actress played her last TV episode as BBC soap character with help from clinical nurse specialist

EastEnders actress Dame Barbara Windsor has said she will be ‘eternally grateful’ for the support of a clinical nurse specialist who advised on her character’s breast cancer storyline.

Eight million viewers tuned in to the TV soap this week for the final scenes with matriarch Peggy Mitchell, who was shown apparently taking an overdose of pills after her battle with breast cancer.

Keen to ensure that the portrayal of Peggy’s illness was accurate, the BBC turned to Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust clinical nurse specialist in breast care Victoria Harmer.

'Having a qualified cancer nurse on set such as Victoria Harmer has been a great sense of comfort to me as an actress,’ said Dame Barbara, who had played Peggy since 1994.

'Approaching such a serious and sensitive health matter is very daunting as you wish to get things right, as unfortunately so many people are affected by this awful illness.’

She added it was ‘imperative’ that TV companies seek advice from professionals on health-related storylines.

Dr Harmer said she was impressed by the scriptwriters’ and actors’ commitment to accuracy. 'It is entertainment, it is not a documentary, so there is a bit of artistic licence. But they researched [the storyline] meticulously,’ she added.

Further reading

Dr Harmer explains her role as medical adviser to TV’s EastEnders