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‘I’m so glad you had the life you did, Barbara. I’m sorry you can’t remember, but my God, what a life! You haven’t wasted a minute of it…’
In December 2020, while the world was gripped with news of an imminent third lockdown, Scott Mitchell was visiting the care home where his partner and wife of 27 years – Dame Barbara Windsor – was being looked after. At the age of 83, after a career spanning seven decades and a seven-year battle with the debilitating effects of dementia, she was slipping away.
Barbara’s illness meant she could no longer remember her magical career, and so Scott sat by her bedside in her final days, telling her tales from their extraordinary life together. From the unlikely moment they met to the challenges they faced, and the highs and lows of a life shared in the limelight. For theirs was an incredibly passionate relationship, but also a turbulent one – and along with a life of love and laughter, together they endured the pressures of fame, drink and addiction, heartbreak and ultimately dementia. He told Barbara stories of her wonderful achievements on and off screen, and the people who altered the trajectory of her life. From nine enormously successful and much-loved Carry On films to more than twenty years in Albert Square with the role of Peggy Mitchell. From director Joan Littlewood handpicking her for Sparrows Can’t Sing and her first husband Ronnie Knight and his links to the Kray twins, to her friendships with Sid James, Kenneth Williams and more.
Weaving together an old-fashioned love story, a glittering life of showbiz and the true cost of dementia, By Your Side is a treasure trove for all of us who grew up watching and loving Dame Barbara. From the madness and the mayhem, the glorious highs and the devastating lows, to the fantastic fun she and Scott had along the way – this is an intimate, honest and incredibly personal account of a life spent loving Babs; a warm, colourful and heartfelt celebration of her rich, varied and remarkable life from the man who knew her best.
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