As giggles go, Dame Barbara Windsor ’s is probably one of the most distinctive in showbiz – so anyone playing the role of our national treasure was going to have to possess a pretty impressive cackle.
Luckily for Jaime Winston, who plays the veteran star alongside Samantha Spiro in new BBC1 biopic Babs, she’s has the seal of approval from the lady herself.
But most astonishing of all, Babs herself was the first to recognise it, 16 years ago.
Jaime, 31, was just 15 when she happened to meet her idol at an event. And as she sat behind her hooting away, the star casually turned around, struck by the familiar sound…
“She said ‘You should play me’ and I was like ‘Oh’,” recalls the young actress today. “It is sort of magic how things turn out and how real it was.
“This is my part. There are some parts that are out there and it is a terrible audition and you just cringe for a week. And then there are some parts where you go ‘This is my role, this is where I am meant to be’.”
She was fully supportive of the biopic, which explores her early career and at times, traumatic personal life, and visited the set countless times as it was being made.
She loved Jaime’s version of her.
“Sometimes Barbara would be watching us filming and it was terrifying, I would look out and she would be there staring, and it was so surreal,” Jaime says.
“But once she came up to me and said, ‘Oh darling, you’re more me than me’, and that was a huge pat on the back. She said ‘At the end of the day, this is your role’. That’s what makes her even more amazing – this is her life story and she had the grace to sit back and tell me it was also my job.”