Barbara will light up night for everyone

Barbara Windsor
Barbara Windsor
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Tourism leaders hope this year’s Switch-On star will ensure the annual Illuminations curtain-raiser appeals to all age groups.

As revealed in yesterday’s Gazette, Dame Barbara Windsor will switch the Lights on on Friday September 2 at the ceremony on the Tower Festival Headland.

She follows in the footsteps of Hollywood director Tim Burton who was the guest star last year.

Claire Smith, president of hoteliers group StayBlackpool, said: “It was always going to be difficult to follow Tim Burton but the announcement of Barbara Windsor keeps it different.

“We have a lot of young talent performing on the night but it’s about appealing to everyone, and ensuring all ages can enjoy the show.

“Having Barbara Windsor switch on the Lights means there is something for everyone and the whole family can come to the Switch-On weekend and have a great time.

“She is fun and bubbly and that’s what Blackpool is about so it is a good fit.”

Dame Barbara, 79, is most famous for her roles in the Carry On films and BBC soap Eastenders.

Her links with Blackpool include having been evacuated to the resort from London during the Second World War, and starring in two summer seasons at the North Pier Theatre and the Grand Theatre.

Shirley Hunt, of the Friends of the Illuminations, said: “I think the Switch-On will be a great night as usual.

“Dame Barbara is a star, although some young people may not be as familiar with her unless they watched her in Eastenders.

“However, there is something for all age groups, with Diversity and The Vamps on the line up so I am very excited about it.”

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservatives on Blackpool Council, welcomed the announcement but said it should have been made sooner.

He said: “Dame Barbara is a great choice, but I think telling people just two weeks before the event is a missed opportunity.

“It would have been better if the announcement could have been made earlier so hoteliers could have advertised it more widely to their potential guests.”

Dame Barbara played out her dramatic final scenes in Eastenders just a few weeks ago.

Also on stage at the Switch-On will be stars of the Nickelodeon SLIMEFEST event which takes place over the weekend featuring former Strictly Come Dancing judge and singer Alesha Dixon.