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Last Updated: Thursday October 29 2009 08:27 GMT

Peggy is leaving EastEnders

Barbara Windsor

Actress Barbara Windsor, who plays Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders, is to leave the programme next year.

The 72-year-old has been in the soap since 1994. Bosses of the show have not revealed how her character will leave Albert Square.

Barbara wants to spend more time with her family but it's unlikely she will retire from showbiz.

She says: "I'll be so sad to leave Peggy behind. EastEnders has been wonderful to me."

The star won a lifetime achievement gong at this year's British Soap Awards.