Dame Barbara Windsor: This is the right time for my BBC biopic


Barbara Windsor in EastEnders

Dame Barbara Windsor has given her backing to Babs, a forthcoming BBC TV movie about her life.

Babs heads a line-up of new BBC Drama commissions announced by Charlotte Moore, acting director of television.

The biopic will be written by Tony Jordan, a former EastEnders writer and series consultant.

Dame Barbara, who has recently left the long-running BBC One soap, said it was "the right time" for her story.

She said: "Although it's been spoken about in the past to do my life story, it wasn't until two years ago I was approached by the brilliant writer Tony Jordan and the BBC ... I knew this was the right time and undoubtedly the only person I felt knew me well enough to tell my story."

She added: "Tony knows the real me and what makes me tick and I was particularly taken by the way he wants to tell my tale which is not in the way people will expect it to be. Tony certainly has captured the moments of my life that have made me who I am today. I am honoured and excited that Tony and the BBC have commissioned this."

Babs accepted her MBE from the Queen in 2000

The 90-minute special is set to be broadcast next year in the run-up to Dame Barbara's 80th birthday.

Babs will centre on the Londoner's lonely childhood, her complicated relationship with her father and her doomed marriage to Ronnie Knight.

It will also depict how she became the blonde bombshell in the Carry On films.

Barbara Windsor with Carry On star Sid James

Tony said: "The opportunity to tell the story of the amazing Dame Barbara Windsor was too good an opportunity to miss.

"I think people will be surprised that there's a lot more to her than just the Carry On films and EastEnders."

He added: "She's a national treasure and one of the most remarkable women I've met. I only hope this film will do her justice."

Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders

Ms Moore also announced two drama renewals: series four and five of Cillian Murphy's Peaky Blinders and a second series of Christopher Eccleston's The A Word.

Peaky Blinders is the story of a 1920s Birmingham gang, created and written by Steven Knight. Cillian hailed writer Steven as he talked about the recommission.

"Tommy Shelby is one of the most intense, challenging characters I've had the opportunity to play," the Irishman said.

Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby (Robert Viglasky/Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd/Tiger Aspect/BBC)

"I'm particularly grateful that Steven's original, dynamic writing and the long-form series allow me to explore Tommy in depth. I very much look forward to Tommy's evolution over the next two chapters."

The A Word, a family drama revolving around an autistic boy, delighted audiences when it debuted in March.

Award-winning writer Peter Bowker said: "I am delighted that the show has resonated with a wide audience and am thrilled to have the opportunity to take the family and Joe further along their journey."

The A Word star Christopher Eccleston

Us, a multi-part adaptation of the acclaimed David Nicholls novel, is a new commission for BBC One. It tells the story of Douglas and Connie Peterson, a couple whose marriage is on the rocks.

BBC Two will bring to screen The Boy With The Topknot, based on Sathnam Sanghera's critically acclaimed memoir of love, secrets and lies.

Set in Wolverhampton, the series will tell the humorous and emotional story of a second-generation Indian growing up in Britain.

Charlotte Moore, controller of BBC channels

Sathnam said: "I'm delighted that The Boy With The Topknot is being adapted for screen. Delighted and of course a little trepidatious.

"The latter because the book is obviously a personal exposition of my childhood and family, and delighted because it's a story I want people to know about and understand."

BBC Broadcasting house

Ms Moore said: "Following BBC Drama's tremendous start to the year, it is clear audiences are looking for even greater ambition and high quality so I want to continue to expand our range even further and reaffirm my commitment to commission the very best drama in the UK."