The late Michael Leader has earned tributes from EastEnders' cast and crew. The extra who played the local milkman had been with the series since the very first episode
Michael Leader, the actor who played EastEnders’ milkman since the soap’s very first episode, has died.
The long-serving extra also made his name in one of the film world’s most famous out-takes, banging his head while playing a Stormtrooper in Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977.
Viewers recently saw Michael drive Peggy Mitchell (Dame Barbara Windsor) around in his milk float in her final week on the BBC1 soap.
He was on the Square for 16 years before he said his first line, asking Charlie Slater (Derek Martin) 'Is this yours, Squire?' as he dropped off his drunken daughter Kat (Jessie Wallace) after she hitched a lift home among the milk bottles.
“We were terribly saddened to hear that our dear friend and colleague Michael Leader passed away on Monday,” EastEnders said in a statement.
“Michael has been on the show since the very first episode and will be sorely missed by the EastEnders family, past and present.
The cast of the soap paid tribute to its long-serving extra, who was in the first episode in 1985.
Michael spoke previously about getting his first line after 16 years, saying: “I’m happy I’ve got my little break and I’m very very pleased to still be in the show after all these years.
“I just work at EastEnders and have done for 16 years – it was very exciting to twinkle for a few seconds among an array of stars.”
He is also said to have appeared briefly in Doctor Who and as a croupier in several James Bond movies.
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Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.
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