She is fiercely protective of her family and the Mitchell name, and has become famous for her catchphrase "Get outta my pub!", used when ejecting people from The Queen Victoria, of which she is the landlady.
The character did not make another appearance until November 1994, when she was reintroduced by Series Producer Barbara Emile as a regular character. The actress was recast, the role being taken over by Barbara Windsor, already well-known to viewers as a comic actress, notably appearing in the long-running Carry On films. Scott Matthewman of The Stage commented on the recast in 2006: "Quite the biggest — and most inexplicable — transformation is that of Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders. While Barbara Windsor has dominated the role...first appearing in , the character had appeared briefly [three] years earlier, played by Jo Warne, a lady who physically is as different from our Babs as it’s possible to get.
Windsor had previously made no secret of her desire to join the cast of EastEnders. Several popular chat show hosts had made public broadcasts requesting to see Windsor on the soap, including Chris Evans on Channel 4's The Big Breakfast, who instructed viewers to fax or phone the BBC to plea for Windsor's instatement. However, Windsor was already in negotiations with the BBC about appearing in the serial. June Deitch, the EastEnders casting director, had met with Windsor to discuss the matter, and was convinced when Windsor declared that she would "like to play my own age for a change". At the time, the producers had already thought about reintroducing Peggy, and Windsor was cast despite originally being considered too "well-known". In an interview with the Walford Gazette, a US-based newspaper dedicated to EastEnders, Windsor commented on her casting: "I was thrilled, I could rest my tired bones working on a marvelous television show that I deeply respected. I was very excited about the possibility [of] playing this feisty lady who would come in and shake up her two boys' lives."
Windsor has been described as the biggest "name" that EastEnders has ever added to its cast, and her arrival came at a time in the show's history that has been branded its "worst creative period". Windsor has commented, "Wendy Richard [who played Pauline Fowler certainly had name value but I suppose it was regarded differently because she was part of the original cast. When I was brought on [to EastEnders] the press made such a big deal. They made it seem like I was brought on to 'save' EastEnders or something , which was ridiculous...the show decided to move into the "Sharongate" storyline, which gave it an enormous push, creatively and ratings-wise. Peggy was brought on as an extension of the Sharongate story because she was Phil and Grant's mum. I understand why the show was uneasy about bringing on any really well known actors because they want the audience [to] believe in and identify with the character without having any of the actor's baggage in their heads..." According to Windsor, 27 million viewers watched her first appearance as Peggy on-screen.
When Windsor took over the role in 1994, she was unhappy with the way Peggy was being scripted. She has commented, "a few things weren't quite right about Peggy at the beginning. On a purely superficial level, the wig didn't fit right. And the clothes weren't right either. They appeared too downmarket. I was particularly worried about how the character was viewed by the producer and writers. I saw her as much ballsier than they did. I think they envisioned Peggy as this rather sad, vulnerable lady who spent all her time worrying about her children." However, early in 1995, EastEnders acquired a new executive producer, Corinne Hollingworth, who shared Windsor's vision of Peggy. It was Hollingworth who decided that Peggy would be a central character, the new landlady of The Queen Victoria public house, one of the soap's main focal points. Hollingworth stated that Peggy was "not going to be allowed to just sit in some flat polishing her nails". Windsor has said, "It was like a dream. [Hollingworth] let me go out with the costume designer and choose Peggy's wardrobe, which needed to be a lot more flash and upmarket. Corinne and I worked on getting Peggy right and I finally began to believe...".
Windsor has described Peggy as "from the old school, the generation which doesn't put up with rubbish from anybody...She can get through practically anything because she's tough, tough, tough." The character has been classified by Rupert Smith, author of EastEnders: 20 Years in Albert Square, as a matriarch, assuming "papal infallibility. Whatever anybody does — particularly her own children — she knows better." She has also been branded a "battleaxe", "bossy" and someone who "wears her heart on her sleeve". Family-orientated, Windsor adds that "[Peggy] loves her family with a passion. Her worst qualities are that she's blinkered, sometimes wrongly passionate about her family."
It has been speculated that Windsor has based Peggy on Violet Kray, mother of the infamous East End gangsters, the Kray twins; however Windsor has denied this. Instead she claims that Peggy is based on women she has seen in East End pubs and her own mother: "women whose hair is great and their outfits are more Walthamstow market, they get it wrong slightly...Some things I've done with Peggy is from my Mum. She was one of those East End snobs. I drew on all of those experiences."
Peggy's breast cancer storyline was devised at the suggestion of a scriptwriter in a story conference session and, according to the production staff, it was an idea "that had been knocking about for a long time." In Lesley Henderson's book, Social Issues in Television Fiction, an EastEnders researcher explains that "A lot of illnesses [...] translate quite readily into strong dramatic material", and the experience of being hospitalised or waiting on test results is something everyone can identify with. The programme sought expert advice on "storyline visuals" from a variety of sources including cancer organisations, breast cancer charities and medical professionals. There were anticipated problems with running a breast cancer story, such as timing, characterisation, casting, and interweaving the plot with other ongoing storylines. A story editor has explained, "EastEnders is perceived as being an issue-led show, but it isn't, it's character and story-led [...] If you haven't got the character to fulfill that storyline then it won't work. You've got to be careful to make sure that the illness actually impacts on the family dynamics and the character development."
Producers decided to use Peggy Mitchell in the breast cancer storyline, conforming to a soap opera tradition of reserving strong roles for a firmly established middle-aged matriarch. The audience were familiar with Peggy's history, knew that her first husband had died from cancer, consequently making her fear hospitals and she had "the right mentality for [the story theme], which was about 'a woman who discovers a lump and then refuses to accept that anything's wrong'. An added factor was that in choosing Peggy the programme could avoid appearing too issue driven, and [the] storyline could be used as a device to expand and develop her characterisation." Additionally, as the causes of breast cancer are not attributable to risky behaviour, the disease was deemed "more attractive" in storyline terms. A member of the EastEnders production team explains, "If you take a character who smokes and they get lung cancer that would seem too issue-driven. The great thing about a character like Peggy is [her breast cancer was] quite unexpected. At the time there were lots of other issues in her life. She was a character who audiences had only seen pulling pints behind the bar. Suddenly she was in a new environment in a hospital and had a huge medical crisis to go through, so that allowed the character to grow and expand in many ways...There was also fairly major moments [...] with Peggy and [her boyfriend George Palmer (Paul Moriarty)]. She thought George wouldn't love her anymore after she'd had the operation. We were able to use the illness to take them on a new journey." In the view of the production team, Peggy's breast cancer was a catalyst, creating new dynamics and tensions amongst exisitng characters. Realism was also an issue. As a middle-aged woman, Peggy was epiodemiologically at higher risk for developing breast cancer. In 2001, it was reported that Peggy's character was one of only a few media portrayals of older females to be given the disease, and source organisations have praised EastEnders for this.
The storyline used elements of suspense, created by the use of "shared secrets" between Peggy and her daughter-in-law Tiffany Mitchell (Martine McCutcheon), who invented elaborate cover stories to mask Peggy's trips to hospital from her sons and partner. Tension was deliberately built for viewing pleasure, posing the questions of whether Peggy's lump was benign or malignant and whether she would die, but also in terms of Peggy's relationships, whether her children would discover the truth or if George would end their relationship. It has been suggested that "such devises [added] pathos to Peggy's treatment path. Audiences [knew] that she [was] terrified and about to discover her biopsy results, but must watch as she is casually castigated by her son Grant for pestering his wife Tiffany to accompany her to 'the dentist'." Hospital scenes were also played for narrative pace to build tension and drama.
Because "radical, body-altering" surgery on a long-running character would cause the production team ongoing problems with continuity, it was decided that Peggy would have a "less visible" lumpectomy, rather than a mastectomy. A member of the EastEnders production team explained, "We have to think about costume and what it's going to look like afterwards and what we're lumbering ourselves with [...] you have to think of that for a long-term character." Additionally, giving Peggy a lumpectomy at that stage of her disease was viewed favourably by source organisations, as it helped to spread a message that a mastectomy is not necessary in all breast cancer cases. However, the storyline was revisted several times over the next few years. In August 1997, Peggy was given the "all-clear" at her follow-up mammogram, and in March 1999 the cancer returned and she underwent a mastectomy, while in 2000 she had a breast reconstruction. It has been reported that Peggy was the first soap opera character to undergo a mastectomy. BBC Production chief executive, Matthew Bannister, praised Windsor's portrayal of Peggy coming to terms with a mastectomy, commenting "It's brought a good deal of comfort and help to us and a lot of other people." In October 1999, Mal Young, head of drama at the BBC, gave a speech at the Royal Television Society's annual convention using Peggy's breast cancer storyline as an example of how important and socially useful soap operas are.
Oncology nurses and consultants were involved in the making of the storyline, which was based on a real life case study. In Clive Seale's book, Health and the Media, EastEnders was praised for putting its message across without being "gruelling". It has also been praised for showing "potent scenes" of a woman coming to terms with her diagnosis, scenes that also provided "rare opportunites" to portray a cancer patient "behaving badly" and depicting "ambivalent felings (such as denial or anger)" — as it had been noted that cancer patients are typically portrayed in the media as "beatific, serene figures". When Peggy had a mastectomy, hundreds of viewers wrote to the BBC to thank producer, Matthew Robinson, for tackling "a difficult subject so sensitively". However, not all viewers were impressed with the storyline. Felicity Smart, who had undergone a mastectomy, wrote to the BBC on behalf of the Breast Carer Support Group at St Thomas' Hospital in London to say that emotionally the storyline "hit the spot", but medically it was "hopelessly inaccurate. No one pulls pints and wisecracks with customers three days after having a mastectomy." Windsor has described Peggy's breast cancer as her favourite storyline, saying that "it really opened it all up for her and it encouraged a lot of charities to get more recognition. For me that's when I felt we had got it right".
Played by Mike Reid, Frank had been a regular character in the serial from 1987-1994, and had appeared in a recurring role until 1998, when Reid agreed to return full-time. Frank's history on the show included a former marriage to another long-running matriarch, Pat Evans (played by Pam St. Clement). Their history as lovers featured prominently in Peggy's narrative in 1998, when, after agreeing to marry Frank, Peggy was wrongly told that Frank and Pat were having an affair. A special two-hander episode aired in November 1998, featuring only Pat and Peggy for the entire duration. It concentrated to Peggy's reaction to the suspected affair, whilst simultaneously addressing Pat's unresolved history with Frank, and the apparent destruction of Pat's own marriage to Roy (Tony Caunter), who had also responded badly to the rumours about his wife's infidelity. The episode, written by Tony Jordan, featured what the Sunday Mirror described as one of "the most vicious fights ever filmed by a soap", with both throwing glasses at one another and Pat slapping Peggy across the face exclaiming "YOU BITCH!" and Peggy responding by slapping Pat exclaiming "YOU COW!". According to press reports, the fight scene between the characters was "so powerful that it had to have scenes and dialogue cut so it could be screened before the 9pm watershed." Barbara Windsor was reportedly bruised during the filming. Windsor commented, "The writer didn't want a namby- pamby cat fight between two silly girls. We were throwing chairs and bottles and the adrenaline was at a high. When I saw the programme I couldn't believe how good it was. Pam and I were really proud." The Sunday Mirror described it as "one of the most impressive episodes of all time". In the climax of the storyline, both couples resolved their differences, and their relationships remained in tact.
Peggy and Frank were married on-screen on 1 April 1999. A "hen night" was thrown for Windsor with the show's make-up team, and the BBC threw a "massive" party in the show's Albert Square to celebrate the event. Actors Windsor and Reid joined fellow stars, celebrities and TV executives for a celebration on the programme's set in Elstree, Hertfordshire. Windsor admitted she had been so nervous before filming the wedding she was sick on set. She commented, "I broke out in spots and threw up in the vestry. I was very nervous - we were both very nervous. The day you stop getting nervous you can hold your hands up. It shows you care." The soap wedding was filmed in Harrow, North West London in February 1999. A bbc spokesman commented, "It is one of the best weddings Walford has ever seen but it is not problem free. There are a lot of people who do not want to see Frank and Peggy married - Grant being one of them - and it remains to be seen whether they will get through the day without a major upset. And as if the wedding is not gripping enough, there are certainly shocking revelations back at the Vic. In the eventual episode, it was actually Grant Mitchell who persuaded his mother to marry Frank - with whom he had been feuding following his accidental killing of wife Tiffany - after Peggy was having second thoughts, thinking that Frank was only marrying her out of pity. Nearly 20 million viewers watched Peggy and Frank "tie the knot".
Together Frank and Peggy ran The Queen Vic, and were involved in various family and business crises, including a "tug-of-war" for their public house with "cuckoo-in-the-nest" Dan Sullivan (Craig Fairbrass). After taking time off in 2000 due to ill-health, actor Mike Reid announced that he was quitting the soap in May 2000. After Reid publicly declared that he would love Frank to have a last fling with Pat before he left, EastEnders' bosses granted his wish and an affair was scripted. The pair enjoyed a liaison on a Spanish beach during a week-long August special set on the Costa Blanca, which saw Frank and Peggy go away with Pat and Roy and Terry and Irene Raymond (Gavin Richards and Roberta Taylor). A BBC spokesperson said, "Pat is obviously incredibly torn between her love for her husband, Roy, and her old feelings for Frank. She's been hurt by Frank in the past, but she's coming to realise that she still has strong feelings for him and he has made no secret of his soft spot for her. I can confirm they do enjoy a romantic kiss on the beach." On-screen, Pat and Frank's affair continued until they decided, in November 2000, to elope. In the specially extended episode marking Frank's official exit — which aired on 2 November 2000, but was Guy Fawkes Night in the on-screen events — Peggy discovered the affair amidst Frank's attempt to retrieve a letter of confession, following Pat's change of heart. Robert Hanks, television critic for The Independent, has described the events that followed: "Peggy, having discovered Frank's duplicity, put on a brave face and carried on judging the pub's Guy Fawkes competition, before denouncing the guilty pair in front of le tout Walford." After revealing their deception to a busy Queen Vic public house, Peggy slapped both Pat and Frank, rebuffed Frank's attempt at reconciliation and left him to depart the serial alone. As symbolism throughout, one of the bonfire guys, "a grinning caricature of Frank" was seen during the episode in what Hanks has described as "a lovely, mocking foil to the action". Frank's effigy was seen being burned at the end of the episode. In December 2000, Ian Hyland of the Sunday Mirror voted the scene in which Peggy slaps both Pat and Frank as one of the "TV fights of the year", saying "It was Peggy's speech which really made it a Bonfire Night to remember. But the slaps were equally well dispatched. Commenting on Reid's exit, Windsor has said, "We fell out when I found out he was leaving because it was a shock for me. I was really upset. I've known him 30 odd years and I really like working with him. We had a great relationship as friends as well as performers. I got my own back when I had to slap him after I found out he was fooling around with Pat. I did the slap twice as I didn't think I did it hard enough the first time.
Peggy was not seen again until November 1994. Her relationship with Kevin had ended and she returned to Walford to sort out her sons, who had fallen out due to Phil's affair with Grant's wife, Sharon. She became acting landlady of The Queen Victoria public house in March 1995, and was soon making her presence felt around Albert Square. She blamed Sharon for the mess her family was in and attempted to chase her out from Walford. Sharon signed over her share of the pub, leaving the Mitchells as the sole owners, with Peggy in charge.
In 1996, Peggy was courted by shady businessman George Palmer. George's primary motive for wooing Peggy was pragmatic — he was trying to stop her petition against the Cobra Club (an arm of his money laundering operation) — but he soon found that he was genuinely attracted to her, and Peggy was smitten too. George tried to protect Peggy from the illegal side of his work and for a while she remained blissfully unaware of his criminal dealings.
When Peggy discovered that Mark Fowler was HIV positive in 1996, she instigated a boycott on his fruit and veg stall, refusing to eat anything he had touched, or serve him in her pub. This caused a feud between Peggy and Mark's mother Pauline, but even she couldn't diffuse the prejudice. Mark was forced to confront the bigotry of the locals by educating them about his illness. Peggy remained uncertain, but was forced to realise that Mark might appreciate some support, when, at the end of the year, she went through her own health problems.
In December 1996, Peggy was diagnosed with breast cancer. Peggy prided herself on her glamorous appearance and the discovery that she had breast cancer initially devastated her, particularly when she was told that she would have to undergo a lumpectomy. She refused surgery and finished with George, fearing that he could not handle her illness; however, with the support of her family and assurances from George, Peggy stoicly faced up to the operation. Peggy and George got engaged and would have married if Phil had not informed his mother about George's true identity. Peggy finished with George in 1997, and he then left Walford, leaving Peggy to be menaced by masked men looking for him in his absence. After this, a furious Peggy would have nothing more to do with George.
In 1998, Peggy began a relationship with Frank Butcher. Their blossoming romance did not go smoothly as a false rumour, spread around by Barry Evans, led Peggy to believe that Frank had been cheating on her with his ex-wife Pat. This prompted a feud between Pat and Peggy, with the two trading arguments around the Square. Eventually, the warring women managed to call a truce and even become good friends. Peggy and Frank's relationship was met with disapproval from her two sons. Grant loathed Frank after he accidentally killed his wife, Tiffany, in a car accident, and Frank and Phil had past issues concerning the torching of Frank's car lot years earlier. Despite this, Peggy married Frank in April 1999, after winning her battle against breast cancer; she was forced to undergo a mastectomy after the cancer returned. The loss of her breast (as well as Grant's objections to Frank) nearly made Peggy cancel the wedding, as she felt that her husband-to-be would find her unattractive, but she changed her mind just at the last minute, much to Frank's relief.
Peggy grew disillusioned with Walford when Grant fled to Rio de Janeiro in October 1999, so she decided to sell the pub and emigrate to Spain. Peggy blamed Phil for Grant's departure, as the two had been involved in a violent altercation concerning Grant sleeping with Phil's wife Kathy before he left. Phil had always felt the least favoured of Peggy's children and had begun to resent this. The animosity between them became so bad that when Grant gave Phil his share of the Vic on Christmas Day 1999, he sold it Dan Sullivan for £5, just to spite Peggy. Peggy was forced to remain in Walford and share her pub with a man she loathed. Peggy and Dan battled with each other over the running of the pub, and the two were often involved in games of one-upmanship, which only sought to increase animosity and make their working life unbearable. Eventually, Phil and Peggy called a truce, and as a reunited force, they chased Dan out of Walford.
More heartbreak followed for Peggy in November 2000, when she discovered that Frank was going to leave her for his ex-wife Pat. Frank wrote Peggy a letter explaining that he was leaving, but just at the last minute, Pat had a change of heart, so Frank attempted to reclaim the letter before Peggy had a chance to read it. He was too late, Peggy had already discovered it and on Guy Fawkes Night, when The Queen Vic was packed with most of Walford's residents, Peggy shamed the cheating duo by reading the letter to the entire pub, and then slapped both Frank and Pat in front of everyone. She threw Frank out and he left Walford without Pat. Peggy has never fully forgiven Pat for her betrayal.
Peggy spent the rest of 2000 in a depression and began to rely heavily on tranquillisers. She attempted to forget her problems by having a family Christmas, which ended in disaster; she spent Christmas Day alone in the Vic. When Frank's daughter Janine taunted her about her father finding love with a new woman, Peggy began drinking heavily and, in a violent fit of rage, she smashed up the Vic with a baseball bat. Things worsened, as in 2001, not only was Phil shot in an attempted murder, but Peggy was also forced to sell The Vic as Frank had left her in severe debt. She begrudgingly gave up her tenancy, but immediately regretted it when she discovered that the new owner was her enemy Sharon Watts. Peggy found it difficult to keep out of the running of the pub, even though it was no longer hers.
Meanwhile, Peggy began dating Harry Slater. Harry owned a bar in Spain and convinced Peggy to move there with him. They got engaged, but a disgusted Peggy was forced to call it off when she discovered that Harry was guilty of sexually abusing his niece, Kat. Peggy returned to The Vic when Phil became joint owner and started dating Sharon again. Her feud with Sharon continued with both regularly sniping at each other, forcing Phil to choose between them. She ended up being the sole licensee once again in 2002, when Sharon sold her half of the Vic back to her.
Peggy was reunited with Frank again when she travelled to Spain for his supposed funeral in January 2002. She discovered he was actually alive and had faked his death to avoid debtors. She and Frank had a chance to put their past behind them before Peggy returned to Walford. Peggy was hastily written out of the series in 2003 when Barbara Windsor was diagnosed with Epstein Barr. Peggy went to Brazil to tend to Grant, who had been crippled in an accident. She returned briefly for the wedding of Sam and Andy Hunter, in September 2004, leaving Sam in charge of the Vic. However, Sam was conned into selling the Vic to Den Watts for a pittance.
As well as trying to get Sam exonerated, Peggy tried to get the pub back, igniting a feud with gangster Johnny Allen, who also made an offer on The Vic. There was a degree of history between the two. Peggy's deceased husband, Eric, had worked for Johnny many years earlier. Johnny had mistreated Eric, which Peggy felt was the reason for Eric's violent behaviour towards her. Peggy also had knowledge of Johnny's violent past, and she exacerbated the feud by informing his daughter Ruby, indicating that he was also to blame for the death of Ruby's mother and sister. Johnny responded by assaulting Peggy, crushing her fingers in a door and threatening her safety unless she kept quiet. He hired a mobster to assulat her, but she was saved by her sons, Phil and Grant. As well as sorting Johnny out, they were also instrumental in unveiling Chrissie as Den's real killer. Chrissie was arrested, Sam was released and Peggy returned to the Mitchells' spiritual home, the Vic.
In 2006, Peggy began an on/off romance with Jack Edwards, the father of Honey, who married Peggy's nephew Billy. However, when Peggy later discovered that Honey's newborn baby, Petal, had Down's syndrome, she declared that the couple should give the baby up for adoption. This caused friction between her and Jack, and because of their differing opinions, Jack decided to end their romance. Realising she was being unreasonable, Peggy came to accept Petal as a Mitchell.
In 2007, a series of lavish expenses (including funding for Phil and child abuser Stella Crawford's doomed wedding; a cruise; and having the Vic redecorated by designer, Marco Bianco) left Peggy £40,000 in debt. She attempted an insurance scam, recruiting Sean Slater to smash up the pub so she could illegally claim for damages. When this failed, Peggy was forced to turn to her nieces, Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell who had arrived for Phils wedding and stayed since; they raised the funds for her so she could pay off the debt-collector and keep her pub.
The character was viewed unfavourably by a proportion of viewers in 1996, when Peggy discovered that Mark Fowler (Todd Carty) was HIV positive and subsequently mounted a hate campaign against him. Windsor has since revealed that she was initially opposed to the storyline: "[Peggy] was vicious to [Mark]. She was so naïve about the whole thing. When I got the script and it said some awful things, I couldn't believe it. It's the only time I've questioned the writers and said 'I can't believe it, people aren't like that today'. Then they sent me a survey and proved that people are actually like that. When it came to doing the scenes, I just got hold of Todd [Carty] and said, 'sorry this is Peggy!' I got the most appalling [hate] mail because of it. I had a very dear friend of mine who was dying of AIDS so it was very personal to me. The last scene I did I went straight out and got terribly drunk." Actress and writer Jacquetta May, who played the character Rachel Kominski between 1991 and 1993, has discussed the storyline and the role of women in an article about EastEnders. According to May, the scriptwriters were faced with a problem once Peggy, "a key figure of the community", was shown to exhibit such "pig-headed ignorance and appalling prejudice". In order for Peggy to be redeemed, she had to be seen to be punished, and so, the character was given breast-cancer later that year. May comments, "Peggy, malicious gossip and bigot, herself becomes the victim of a life-threatening illness. At Christmas they run a Christian forgiveness story. Peggy calls on Mark and tells him she now knows what it is like to suffer as he has. She apologises, thus underlining one of the basic tenets of the programme: underneath the skin we are all the same, human and vulnerable, and recognition of this should unite us not divide us. Along the way, a great deal of useful information about these illnesses was broadcast. So, although EastEnders endlessly repeats its conservative format, and although all issues are there primarily to feed the great hungry story-beast, its positive by-products cannot be denied."
EastEnders have received praise for the way they handled Peggy's breast cancer storyline, as she was a rare media portrayal of an older matriarchal woman with the disease. Older women are at higher risk of being diagnosed; however, in 2001, it was reported that media representation of breast cancer is skewed towards younger women in their 20s or 30s, as they are seen as "more tragic" or "more sexy" in media terms. A 2000 study by Kitzinger and Henderson showed that 94% of newspaper coverage on non-celebrity women with breast cancer were aged under 50. Source organisations working with EastEnders on the storyline have commented, "[The team] decided it was going to be [Peggy] and very rightly so. Bang on, the right age [...] perfect dramatic licence in terms of her sons that she was going to have to share this terrible news with, and how would she share it? Every female would have that problem. How would you tell your children? And they followed that with her. She was exactly the right person." The storyline also received media criticism, for their use of a breast care nurse, who was used to counsel Peggy and translate medical terminology into lay terms for viewers; a character who could provide both a dramatic and educational purpose. However, not all oncology units in the UK offer breast care nurses, and the character presented "particularly positive messages" concerning patient choice and control over treatment options. Because of this, the UK press dubbed the storyline "didactic". The stroyline was also criticised because Peggy received her cancer test results after six days, which prompted cancer charities to warn that not all patients would receive the same treatment.
The character has also been spoofed by the Scottish impressionist Ronni Ancona in BBC's Big Impression. In the sketches, Ancona shuffles around on her knees to exaggerate Barbara Windsor's petite height, and she is regularly heard using the catchphrase "Get outta my pub!". Impressionist Jan Ravens has also spoofed her in BBC's Dead Ringers, also mimicking her cheeky laugh. Commenting on Ancona's impersonation, Windsor has said "she does me brilliantly. I told her it was a great compliment. She made me realise my little hands wave around a lot."
In November 2005, Peggy appeared in a sketch for Children in Need, which was a crossover between EastEnders and The Catherine Tate Show. The sketch featured Peggy, Little Mo Mitchell, Stacey Slater and Catherine Tate as her well-known character Lauren Cooper. The 2006 episode of Doctor Who, entitled "Army of Ghosts", features a scene of EastEnders where Peggy tells the "ghost" of Den Watts to "get outta my pub!