A kind, friendly woman with high intelligence and good wit, Barbara (or Babs as she became known) instantly stood out amongst her fellow prisoners, due to being middle class. However, she soon became very popular, and Babs eventually adapted to prison life and made some loyal friends. She also got a happy ending, finding a husband in the form of the Prison chaplain, Reverend Henry Mills.
Babs was jailed after assisting her husband Peter to end his own life. Peter was battling lung cancer and was finding live unbearable due to the pain, and Babs had initially been reluctant due to being a devout Catholic, but she had eventually agreed to ensure that his suffering would end, helping him die. Upon her first appearance, Babs was seen in a hysterical state, pleading to be let out of the prison van. Unbeknown to the prison officers, Babs was suffering from extreme claustrophobia and had to get out of the confined space. This led to Sylvia "Bodybag" Hollamby believing Babs to be mentally ill inmate Tessa Spall, who was being transferred in the same van. Babs was taken to the prison's psychiatric unit, and after being sedated, was placed in a tiny cell, which only worsened her claustrophobia. After Tessa (pretending to be Babs) attacks prison governor Karen Betts, the officers realise Sylvia's error and the real Babs is removed from the psychiatric wing and placed in a cell with Nikki Wade. Nikki and Babs soon form a close friendship; Babs, like Nikki, is well educated and easy to get along with.
Babs gets on the wrong side of Shell Dockley, who threatens her and forces her to steal a pen from the prison's art class. Shell then writes derogatory comments on the wall and Babs is about to be blamed, until Nikki stands up for her. Shell then steals Babs' diary and tries to cause trouble by reading extracts from it that contain unflattering comments about the fellow prisoners, that Babs had written before getting to know them. After Babs explained this, the other prisoners took her side and turned on Shell. Nikki then encourages Babs to stand up to Shell, and Babs reluctantly goes to Shell's cell and asks for it back. Shell attempts to attack Barbara, and insults her late husband Peter, prompting Barbara to violently shove Shell into the wall, breaking her arm and warning her to never mention Peter's name again. Babs is racked with guilt for injuring Shell, though Nikki is proud of her.
Babs discovers Nikki is in a relationship with governing governor Helen Stewart, and when Nikki reveals her plan to break out of prison to visit Helen, Babs is horrified and warns Nikki of the potential consequences if she is caught.
Babs is very surprised to find out that her stepchildren, Amanda and Greg, have applied for a visiting order. Despite her best efforts to get on with them, they had always resented her, and even claimed Babs had murdered their father rather than help him take his life, believing her to be a gold digger after his money. Despite this, Babs was keen to make amends with them, despite Nikki warning her that there could be something behind their visit. During their meeting in the visiting room, it becomes clear that Amanda and Greg have no intention of making amends with Babs, and they begin to ask her questions about her first husband, revealing that they had never divorced, meaning Babs was never legally married to their father. When Greg implies that Babs may have murdered her first husband, she reacts furiously, slapping him and eventually having to be restrained and carried out of the visiting room, as she shouts at him and Amanda. The other prisoners are shocked at Babs' outburst, and when they find out what her stepchildren had been suggesting, decide to start a smear campaign against them. However, Babs has failed to inform her fellow inmates that she was never legally married to Peter, and when they find out they are furious, as the smear campaign had resulted in several of them being punished. Babs eventually makes amends with the other women, by revealing she is using some of the £3 million Peter left her to fund a halfway house upon her release.
At the end of the series, Nikki receives the news that her appeal against her sentence has been successful, and she is cleared and released from prison, starting a new life with Helen. As Nikki leaves, she emotionally says goodbye to each of the women, though arguably the most important goodbye is with Barbara, who tearfully thanks Nikki for helping her adapt to the harsh prison environment, and states that she will never forget her.
With Larkhall having invested in several new computers, Hollamby is instructed to teach the prisoners a basic computer skills class, though is absolutely clueless, and subsequently tries to force Babs, who has IT experience, into taking over, though Babs refuses flatly. Hollamby is then forced to take over, though is left humiliated after pornography is found on the computers, and when a drink spillage leads to one of the machine's blowing up.
Officer Di Barker becomes engaged to new recruit Barry Pearce, and shortly afterwards, it becomes apparent that Pearce is a violent bully, who lashes out and blames others, namely Di, for his mistakes. He attacks Shaz Whiley when escorting her from her cell, and Shaz subsequently voices her suspicions about Barry to Babs, Julie Johnston and Julie Saunders. Di later shows Babs a tattoo on her arm of Barry's name, and Babs cannot help noticing a large bruise on Di's arm. Suspecting Barry of domestic abuse, Babs pulls Di aside and asks her if Barry is hitting her, but Di instantly rubbishes Babs' claims and states that she is pushing on with the wedding. Babs, Shaz and the Julie's know that if Di goes ahead with the wedding, it will make things worse, and in a desperate attempt to help Di escape him, the women decide the only way is to cancel the wedding. This requires Babs, with her computer knowledge, and they later manage to cancel the venue. This still fails to deter Di from her relationship, though Barry's violent behaviour worsens upon his return to work, and he attacks Babs in her cell, suspecting her of cancelling the venue. Babs, and Shaz, manage to fight him off, and seeing his behaviour towards Babs prompts Di to finally admit he has been abusing her.
With Nikki having been released, Babs' friendship with the other women develops, most notably with "top dog" Yvonne Atkins, who comes to regard Babs as a confidant, and turns to her for advice and guidance. During this period, Babs arguably becomes Yvonne's best friend. When the Julie's are about to be released, Babs shows a rebellious streak as she steals whisky from Jim Fenner's desk. She also begins tampering with the canteen account, to ensure her fellow convicts are benefitted.
The prison receives a new chaplain, in the form of the Reverend Henry Mills, a kind-hearted, highly caring individual, who has recently lost his wife Joyce to cancer, as Babs had done with her husband Peter. Babs helps Henry to gain the trust of the other prisoners, and when Crystal Gordon loses her faith in God, and tries to turn the other prisoners from religion, Henry, with the help of Babs, gradually manages to restore their faith.
The series ends with romance blossoming between Babs and Henry, though their happiness appears to be thwarted when the conniving Snowball Merriman plants a bomb in the prison. It explodes during an opening day, leaving everyone trapped in the carnage. Babs is rescued by the Julie's, and as they try to calm her, it is clear that Babs has sustained a serious wound to her ear.
The repercussions from the bomb are serious; Shaz Whiley has been killed, and Babs has become deaf. She is also left suffering night terrors after her claustrophobia returns, and the Julie's are left to comfort her most nights.
Babs is delighted to find her hearing having returned, and later receives a proposal from Henry. She joyfully accepts, and they begin to plan their future. Babs is now the happiest that she has been for some time, though she is mischievously encouraged by Yvonne to maintain her loss of hearing for the latter to obtain information.
Babs ends up losing any chance of an early release, after her and the other inmates stage a protest against the cruel management tactics of a new security firm planning to take over Larkhall. The rest of the women are devastated for Babs, though she states that she is fighting alongside them, and that Henry will wait for her, and they will be together whether she is released late or not.
Babs and Henry marry on her last day in the chapel, despite a minor interruption from Henry's jealous brother. The prison holds them a party, and Babs excuses herself along with Yvonne, as Yvonne is planning to escape. In Babs' cell, Yvonne and Babs have an emotional goodbye, with Babs telling Yvonne to take care of herself, and that they will always be friends. Babs is last seen in her cell, eagerly awaiting her release, and placing her wedding ring on, excitedly.
Babs is released from prison offscreen, and starts a happy new life with Henry, keeping in touch with her friends inside. She is one of the few characters in the series to get a happy ending.