It should come as no surprise that I am a fan of Barbara Windsor. I’ve had lengthy discussions with Chris in which I ponder why I love Carry On films so much and find other comedies from around that time (namely, On The Buses) to be so offensive. This is clearly a conversation for another time, preferably over a glass of wine, but I wonder if part of the Carry On films’ ability to navigate the sexual politics of the 1960s/70s was down to the performances of Barbara Windsor.
She just has… something.
In all of the lechery, the coercion, the exploitation, she managed to give off the appearance of complete control, maintaining the upper hand over inept male protagonists in every situation. This is difficult territory so I am not going to get into it on a Monday morning and, knowing what we now know about Barbara’s life and relationship with her co-stars, I do not believe that the art is in any way a reflection of the reality.
But I love these films and I love Barbara Windsor in them. I love the way that she lights up the screen and the way that she laughs. I wish that I could laugh like her. This fondness, I put down to her presence throughout my childhood and throughout my life – this is one explanation I’ve offered for this feminist loving the Carry Ons of my formative years and meeting repeats of On The Buses*, encountered in my late 20s with understandable repulsion.
*If you have never seen On The Buses and have no idea what I am talking about, it’s vile; don’t bother. Watch something good on Netflix instead. For those who do get the reference, Chris once told me I looked like Olive in my glasses… the mean sod!
I would love to bake a cake for Barbara Windsor – sorry, DAME Barbara Windsor – because she is a grafter. On the stage from a young age and typecast as an object of desire, resulting in difficulty getting cast when she was seen as being too old to be chased around by men.
Watching the BBC’s biopic Babs last weekend, I was moved by the portrayal of Barbara watching over her younger self, offering advice and caution. How many of us wish that we could do this?
Personally, I would love to have Barbara over for a slice of cake, a giggle, and to hear more of her stories from an incredible career, its highs and its lows and all of the points in between. I will always admire and respect anyone who grafts, putting one foot in front of the other with a broad smile and kicking ass left, right, and centre.
Carry on, Babs. I think you are fabulous.