Tearful Peggy Mitchell walked out of Albert Square for the final time tonight - after turning down the pleas of her crack addict son Phil to stay.
The pub landlady quit Walford – ending Barbara Windsor’s 16-year stint on BBC1’s 'EastEnders' – with emotional goodbyes to her precious family.
She cast one last look at the blackened shell of the fire-ravaged Queen Vic before walking out of the Square for good to rebuild her life, after assuring Phil: “I’ll be fine.”
The finale for Peggy followed a gripping instalment last night in which she escaped the burning pub after Phil (Steve McFadden) set it alight.
In tonight’s poignant edition, viewers saw Peggy attempt to tie up loose ends and repair some of the damage wreaked by her wayward son.
She paid a visit to Stacey Branning (Lacey Turner) in hospital, urging her to take the blame for the fire. And she found out that niece Ronnie (Samantha Womack) was pregnant with her longed-for child.
The matriarch then begged Phil to go away with her but, when he refused to leave Walford, she made up her mind to start afresh without him, saying it was for his sake.
His pleas for her to stay fell on deaf ears and, with him lurching after her repeating “Mum”, she delivered her final line on the soap with a tear in her eye: “Go back inside, love. Go on, I’ll be fine. Go on, darling, go back inside.”
As she walked past the pub one last time viewers saw her face etched with anguish.
Earlier, as Peggy surveyed the charred remains of the pub, viewers heard haunting snippets of dialogue from some of the dramas which had unfolded during her life in the Square, including the voice of Frank Butcher (Mike Reid) declaring his love for her.
A specially reworked version of the EastEnders theme tune, called Peggy’s Theme, accompanied her exit during her final scene. The track is to be made available to buy as a single.
Composer Simon May revamped the music for the occasion.
He said: “It is her theme, I wrote it for her. Barbara Windsor has been absolutely amazing on EastEnders.”