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Monday 18th November 2019

Babs Windsor makes cheeky cameo in BBC biopic about colourful life

Jaime Winstone plays the national treasure in her younger years

It's always a toughie when an actor or actress is asked to play someone who is still alive.

Not just because the public have their very own well-informed and fixed impression of certain well-known faces which makes it hard to see someone playing that role.

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But also because the actors portraying them are most likely scared stiff of what the person they are playing might think of their performance.

So imagine how the amazing Jaime Winstone must have been feeling when she was asked to play nation's sweetheart Dame Barbara Windsor in a new BBC TV drama due to air on Sunday.

Jaime as Babs! (Credit: BBC / Sophie Mutevelian)

She must have been bricking it.

Well, no actually because, years ago, when Jaime was just 15, Babs had suggested to her that she should play her one day after she noted that their giggles were very similar.

"You should play me," the actress recalled what Babs had said to The Mirror.

"It is sort of magic how things turn out. There are some parts that are out there and it is a terrible audition and you just cringe for a week.

Sometimes Barbara would be watching us filming and it was terrifying.

"And then there are some parts where you go, 'This is my role, this is where I am meant to be.'"

(Credit: BBC)

However, Jaime did admit that filming the drama was pretty a nerve-wracking experience as Barbara would occasionally come down to the set to watch how things were going,

"Sometimes Barbara would be watching us filming and it was terrifying, I would look out and she would be there staring, and it was so surreal," she remembered.

"But once she came up to me and said, 'Oh darling, you're more me than me', and that was a huge pat on the back."

Yes, it seemed that Dame Babs loved Jaime in the role which must have been very reassuring for the young actress.

(Credit: BBC)

"She said, 'At the end of the day, this is your role'." Jaime said of Babs, adding, "That's what makes her even more amazing - this is her life story and she had the grace to sit back and tell me it was also my job."

And the best advice Dame Windsor offered Jaime? "Keep it camp!"

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The film tells Barbara's life back in flashback, recounting her rise to fame and looking at her troubled relationships with her father and gangster boyfriend Ronnie Knight.

Babs even makes an appearance in the film.

Director Tony Jordan said of her special scenes: “I couldn’t resist, I knew she would be up for it.

“There were moments in the script, such as a shot with all the guys (she had been close to) where I could hear her voice as I wrote it, saying ‘That’s not funny’ – so I wrote that in.

“Then there is the moment where she decides whether to invest in Ronnie, despite everything she had heard about him.

“I knew that changed her life forever, like a fork in the road, and I wanted her to be there and acknowledge that moment.”