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Tuesday, March 30, 1999 Published at 17:23 GMT 18:23 UK


Wedding knees-up in the Square

Here comes the bride: Barbara Windsor and her co-stars

EastEnders couple Peggy Mitchell and Frank Butcher are getting married - and the BBC threw a massive party in the show's Albert Square to celebrate.

Actors Barbara Windsor and Mike Reid will be seen tying the knot on Thursday - and the pair joined fellow stars, celebrities and TV executives for a celebration on the programme's set in Elstree, Hertfordshire.

Names attending included Windsor's screen sons Ross Kemp and Steve McFadden - Phil and Grant Mitchell - novelist Beryl Bainbridge, and BBC Production chief executive Matthew Bannister.

Barbara Windsor admitted she had been so nervous before filming the wedding she was sick on set - and insisted it was nothing to do with the "hen night" she threw the night before with the show's make-up team.

[ image: The happy couple: Barbara Windsor and Mike Reid]
The happy couple: Barbara Windsor and Mike Reid
"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 61-year-old actress also revealed it was the first time she had walked down an aisle - her two real-life weddings were at Tottenham Register Office in north London and on a beach.

Matthew Bannister praised Windsor's portrayal of Peggy in the soap. Her character is coming to terms with a mastectomy - something his wife went through two years ago.

"It's brought a good deal of comfort and help to us and a lot of other people," he said.

As the BBC executive in charge of the programme, he quipped he was "the father of the bride", adding: "I'm paying for this reception."

In Thursday night's programme Grant persuades his mother to marry Frank - with whom he had been feuding - after she has second thoughts.

Beryl Bainbridge found the experience rather bizarre. She is no stranger to soaps - after playing a girlfriend of Ken Barlow in Coronation Street in the 1960s.

"I'm just baffled, it's so surreal. You can't think what is real or what is false," she said.

A 40-minute EastEnders special can be seen on BBC One on Thursday at 1930.

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