Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10
Cast: Samantha Spiro, Nick Moran, Leanne Best, Jamie Winstone, Luke Allen-Gale, Zoe Wanamaker, Robin Sebastian, Daniel Ben Zenou, Toby Wharton, Nicholas Asbury Jerry-Jane Peers, Alex Macqueen, Ross green, Rob Hughes, Tom Forbes, Joe Stilgoe, Julia Ford, Rob Compton, Charlie Archer, Honor Kneafsey, Jonathan Rhodes, Barbara Windsor.
Barbara Windsor’s name will surely go down in British television and film history as one of the most captivating, most entertaining and endearing stars of the mediums, she will also be fondly remembered for her laughter, for her ability to light up a room and her general fighting attitude. Yet she will also be remembered as a woman who found herself surrounded by the wrong type of man, whose career could have been so much more and to whom the stigma of infamy in some quarters perhaps kept her back from being a true great of British theatre; for Barbara Windsor’s fans though, a true girl of the East End, of absolute highs and unbelievable lows, she will always be Babs.
The life of an individual who has given so much, who has seen perhaps more of life than many will be fortunate enough to see, who is arguably as much of the culture of post-war Britain than many might believe, is always something to sit down and reflect upon; it is the drive, the passion and the devastation that such an individual creates, that they sit in the annals of personal history, that makes them unique and admired, talked about and in some cases frowned upon.
The television film is one that enjoys the spectacle of the cerebral, of being able to break not just the fourth wall but one that asks the viewer to think, to see the world through the eyes of many different ages of Ms. Windsor, we are after not the same person who we were at 20 as we are at 50 or even 80, people change, their reflections on themselves alter, transform and mutate, a conversation with yourself between the ages of 20, full of hope and determination and that at 50 will reveal incredible changes and to see them in a non-linear progression is more exposing than seeing a direct line of a to b, the cause and effect is not always the truest picture.
The story reflects greatly on the relationship between Ms. Windsor, her father and the men around her, the comfort of her relationship with her current man, the despair and anguish of being involved with the infamous Kray Twins and Ronnie Knight and even that of the friendship with the late great Kenneth Williams, portrayed with great esteem and affection by the superb Robin Sebastian.
Throughout the film, the image of Barbara Windsor shows through, a nation’s heroine of the screen, the face of Carry On films, and all captured by Samantha Spiro and Jamie Winstone with authority and love. Alongside superb performances by Liverpool’s Leanne Best as her mother and Julia Ford as the woman who kept her from her dad, this should be considered quality throughout.
A special lady of British film and television, fully deserving of such a great piece of writing and warmth and affection, a cracking feature for the lady always known as Babs and one that exposed more about Britain and its values than possibly realised.
Ian D. Hall