“So sad for Barbara Windsor, more than a great pub hostess and Continue star, ”the Prime Minister wrote on Twitter.
“She campaigned for the lonely and vulnerable – and cheered the world on with her own British brand of harmless delicacy and innocent scandal.”
The tribute appears to have prompted searches for the Prime Minister’s own on-screen meeting with Dame Barbara in Eastenders when he was Mayor of London.
In 2009, Mr Johnson walked into Albert Square as part of a storyline that saw Dame Barbara’s beloved character Peggy Mitchell decide to run for local office.
The scene of her arrival was set with an enraged Peggy saying she would “give him a piece of her mind” if she ever clapped.
Lo and behold, a ‘bike puncture’ soon sees Mr Johnson appear at the Queen Victoria – or, as the Culture Secretary called it, the Old Vic – briefly supporting the bar to deliver four short lines, starting with : “Oh please, call me Boris”.
As Peggy says she almost got involved in politics herself, Mr Johnson replies: ‘If you have any ideas on how I could help Walford, here is my map’.
“I wouldn’t dream of telling the mayor of London what to do,” laughs the character of Dame Barbara, before immediately taking the card from her.
While the first time a sitting politician had appeared on a UK soap opera, the former mayor’s appearance performance sparked some controversy.
This happened just days before the Conservative Party conference, where the Conservatives presented their austerity agenda ahead of an election that saw them regain power after 13 years.
Admitting that he was twice refused to appear on the soap opera – which at the time averaged eight million viewers per episode – Mr Johnson’s predecessor, Ken Livingstone, was decidedly unimpressed.
“There has obviously been a conversion of Damascene here”, he said. The Guardian at the time. “There’s no reason the BBC couldn’t make an appearance for the mayor – I just wish they would do it for everyone, not just their favorites. ”
London Labor Assembly member Murad Qureshi went further, saying: “It’s a coup for Boris, being portrayed as a pretty straight guy on such a popular show, but I wonder if it is the BBC’s mandate to influence public perception in this way. . ”
A spokesperson for the national broadcaster said at the time that Mr Johnson’s appearance was “consistent both with the BBC’s editorial guidelines and with the principle of required impartiality”.
It was not the last time Mr Johnson and Dame Barbara had met.
With the actor and husband Scott Mitchell appointed as ambassadors for the Alzheimer’s Society – following Dame Barbara’s diagnosis in 2014 and the subsequent campaign for better care for her patients – the couple met with the Prime Minister in Downing Street in September 2019.
They delivered a letter signed by 100,000 people, urging the government to reform and properly fund the UK dementia care system.
“We’re going to do this. It’s very difficult. We have to fix the problem. I will do my best for you. It’s a big old job, ”Johnson told them.
After Dame Barbara passed away on Thursday, Mr Mitchell said his wife’s final weeks were typical of how she lived her life, being “full of humor, drama and fighting spirit to the end”.