John Altman thought Dame Barbara Windsor was going to "live forever".
The former 'EastEnders' star - who played 'Nasty' Nick Cotton on the BBC soap on and off from 1985 to 2015 - has paid tribute to the soap legend after she sadly died on Thursday (10.12.20) after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.
Appearing on talkRADIO, he said: "It's funny, with some people you think they're going to go on forever, don't you? I couldn't believe it really.
"I knew that she'd been ill so it wasn't like it suddenly came out of the blue, or it wasn't a shock because I knew she was ill. I'm just getting my head round it really, it's only just dawning on me."
John also reflected on the last time he saw the actress, and he visited her and her husband Scott Mitchell.
He added: "The last time I saw Barbara was in central London where she lived with Scott and I have a really lovely memory of that.
"I think she remembered me when I walked in as well ... I went to see her probably about a year and a half ago now.
"But then of course she's been unwell and she has not been at home for quite a while."
Other 'EastEnders' stars past and present have paid tribute to Barbara, who played Peggy Mitchell on Albert Square.
Lacey Turner (Stacey Slater) wrote on Instagram: "Our lovely bar, today my heart is so sad but what you have left me with is so full of love, laughter & joy so many lovely memories!
"You gave a young me so much confidence, to watch you work was an honour, I will be forever grateful for what you gave me! A beautiful soul inside & out! Sleep tight bar we love you lots (sic)"
Harry Reid (Ben Mitchell) added: "Babs, The centre piece of a family on and off screen. I will never forget our conversations, our days out and together.
"Scott will be looked after. See you soon sweetheart. Rest tight my queen (sic)"
Jo Joyner (Tanya Branning) remembered meeting Barbara when she first joined the soap cast.
She tweeted: "One of the warmest welcomes I had when first joining Enders was from You. My heart goes out to Scott&the family.
"So warm, so whitty, always a twinkle in your eye, so rightly adored. Sending love up to the stars for you Bar..... you’ve always been one of them xx (sic)"
Nitin Ganatra (Masood Ahmed) commented: "Devastating news to hear of the passing of Dame Barbara Windsor.
"It was a privilege and honour to work with this remarkable, sparkling, funny, straight talking, generous woman... and what a giggle!! I will never forget the kindness she showed me. (sic)"
Richard Blackwood (Vincent Hubbard) posted a lengthy tribute as he opened up on the "devastating news".
He wrote: "Everytime after when we saw each other she would give me advice about how to move in this industry and went on to tell me she was a fan and came to see me in Shrek????!!!
"I want to send major condolences out to her family but I also want to say I’m honoured to have known you!!! She was so humble for such a huge star!! (sic)"
Robert Kazinsky (Sean Slater) added: "What a joy it was to have known and worked with her. To have her tell me to "Gerrout mah pub," to have shared so many chats on rainy days.
"All my love goes to Scott who was a family friend before EE was even a twinkle in the eye. #RIPBabs what a life, what a lady. (sic)"