The EastEnders originals – where are they now?
It’s been 30 years since BBC soap EastEnders premiered on TV.
Characters have been killed, other residents have left while some such as Adam Woodyatt and June Brown are still living in Albert Square.
As the show celebrates its milestone birthday, we take a trip down memory lane to relive the first ever cast photograph.
1. Wendy Richard (Pauline Fowler)
Wendy played the matriarch of Albert Square for 21 years until her on-screen death in 2006. The actress, who was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2006, decided to leave the show and was honoured with a lifetime achievement British Soap Award for for her role. She died from cancer in 2009, aged 65.
2. Anna Wing (Lou Beale)
Pauline and Pete’s mother Lou was an intimidating matriarch in Walford, with a no-nonsense attitude. Anna, who was 70 when the show began, left EastEnders after three years in 1988, but continued working on stage and television with roles in Casualty, Doctors and French And Saunders. The actress, who was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2009, died in her sleep in 2013, aged 98.
3. Bill Treacher (Arthur Fowler)
Stage star Bill played Arthur for 11 years from 1985 to 1996, admitting that the soap’s storylines and gruelling schedules left him tired. After his character was killed off, the actor had roles in The Bill and Casualty, and films such as The Musketeer in 2001, Tale Of The Mummy (1998), and George And The Dragon (2004). Now 84, he is enjoying the retired life with wife Katherine Kessey and their two children.
4. Susan Tully (Michelle Fowler)
Susan with screen parents Bill and Wendy (PA)
Former Grange Hill star Susan, now 46, portrayed single mum Michelle on the show for ten years from 1985 until 1995. She then gave up acting to work behind the camera and has directed and produced TV programmes such as Lark Rise To Candleford, The Bill and Silent Witness.
5. Letitia Dean (Sharon Watts)
Letitia, who made her debut as Den and Angie’s daughter in 1985, initially left for the first time in 1995 before she reprised the role in 2001. She then appeared on and off until January 2006, and returned for her third stint on the soap in 2012, where she still is today. The 47-year-old actress has also competed on Strictly Come Dancing.
6. Linda Davidson (Mary Smith)
Mary was one of Albert Square’s most controversial characters — a former punk rock groupie and drug user whose wild lifestyle put her baby’s life at risk. Linda, who dated co-star Nejdet Salih (Ali Osman), left the show in 1988, and soon won roles in First Of The Summer Wine and Casualty before giving up performing. Now aged 50, she works in internet design and runs a social media agency.
7. Ross Davidson (Andy O’Brien)
Former PE teacher Ross won his major TV role on EastEnders, where he played the Scottish nurse who had an affair with Queen Vic landlady Angie Watts (Anita Dobson) for 18 months. His claim to fame on the show was the fact he was the first character to be killed off. After leaving in August 1986, Ross, who dated his screen girlfriend Shirley Cheriton, acted in stage plays, presented TV shows and starred in Brookside and Hollyoaks. He died from a brain tumour, aged 57, in 2006.
8. Shirley Cheriton (Debbie Wilkins)
Shirley played Debbie, a middle-class yuppie bank clerk in Walford, whom the working-class locals thought was stuck-up and pretentious. The actress, who left EastEnders in 1987, was later cast in the soap’s creator Julia Smith’s show Angels, as well as MIT: Murder Investigation Team in 2003. Now 59, she hasn’t appeared on TV since 2009.
9. Leslie Grantham (Dirty Den Watts)
Dirty Den, the original Queen Vic landlord, created the biggest “doof doof” moment when he handed divorce papers to Angie Watts in the 1986 Christmas Day episode, which was watched by a record-breaking 30.15 million viewers. Seemingly killed in 1989, he returned from the dead in 2003 – but was soon killed by manipulative second wife Chrissie (Tracy-Ann Oberman). A convicted murderer in real life, Leslie, now 67, has appeared on The Bill, plays and panto.
10. Anita Dobson (Angie Watts)
Anita replaced Jean Fennell, who was considered “too classy” to play the Queen Vic landlady, before she left three years later in 1988. The 65-year-old actress, who is married to Queen guitarist Brian May, had a No 4 hit with Anyone Can Fall In Love in 1986, and has been on Strictly Come Dancing. With a regular part on CBeebies sketch show Gigglebiz, her next TV role sees her playing Elizabeth I for BBC Two’s new documentary series Armada.
11. Tom Watt (Lofty Holloway)
Tom played barman Lofty, who fell in love with Michelle and married her after she became a single mum although she dumped him at the altar during the first ceremony. The 59-year-old left the show in 1988 to become a social worker, but returned to the industry as a sports reporter. He also co-authored David Beckham’s autobiography.
12. Leonard Fenton (Dr Harold Legg)
Now 88, the former World War II Army engineer portrayed Albert Square’s doctor for 12 years until he left in 1997, although he has reprised the role three times over the years in 2000, 2004 and 2007. Leonard made his debut as a theatre director in 2004, and has been busy performing radio plays.
13. Andrew Johnson (Saeed Jeffery)
Andrew’s character Saeed owned a convenience store called First Til Last and was unhappily married to Naima (Shreela Ghosh), until he left the Square under a cloud of shame after making obscene phone calls to women in December 1985. The 59-year-old actor moved to Hollywood, where he has had minor roles in Murder She Wrote and Inspector Morse.
14. John Altman (Nasty Nick Cotton)
Heroin addict, conman, killer and thief, Nasty Nick lives up to his name and is one of the soap’s most renowned villains. In the first episode of EastEnders, he murdered the Square’s oldest resident Reg Cox for drug money and almost poisoned his “deal old ma” Dot Cotton (June Brown). Never intended to be a lasting character, John, 62, finally died for real last week.
15. June Brown (Dot Cotton)
The 87-year-old actress, who was given a MBE in 2008, has received a lifetime achievement soap award and a Bafta nomination for her performance as kind-hearted busybody Dot. The mother-of-six is the only EastEnders actress to have an entire episode to herself: in 2008 she performed a half-hour monologue, talking about the Walford stalwart’s life as she recorded a tape for her husband, Jim Branning, who had suffered a stroke. Aside from her life in the Square, June became the oldest dancer to take part on Strictly Come Dancing in 2010, and has appeared in West End production of Calendar Girls.
16. Paul J Medford (Kelvin Carpenter)
Currently starring in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, West End veteran Paul played Kelvin, the entrepreneur of the Square, who fell for an older woman and was humiliated when she publicly dumped him. He set up a band, The Banned, with Sharon and a group of friends, but was forced to give up after some embarrassing gigs. In real life, their song Something Outa Nothing, credited to Letitia Dean and Paul Medford, reached No 12 in the UK charts. Kelvin, now 48, left Walford in 1987 to pursue a degree in computer studies.
17. Sandy Ratcliff (Sue Osman)
Sandy’s alter-ego Sue had one of the bleakest soap storylines when her baby died from cot death syndrome in June 1985. Things didn’t improve when she got pregnant again – her marriage broke down, she had a breakdown and was sectioned. After leaving EastEnders in 1989, Sandy, now 64, had a battle with heroin addiction. She turned her fortunes around by later retraining as a counsellor before retiring.
18. Nejdet Salih (Ali Osman)
During his stint on the show, Nejdet’s character battled with the loss of a child, gambling addiction, the breakdown of his marriage to Sue (Sandy) and her subsequent mental health problems. After his departure in 1989, the 56-year-old actor changed his name to Nej Adamson, and has appeared in the last Carry On film in 1992, as well as playing a brigand in two Pirates Of The Caribbean movies.
19. Gillian Taylforth (Kathy Beale)
Gillian courted controversy on and off screen during her stay on EastEnders. Her character Kathy didn’t have an easy time on the Square – she was raped by her music teacher and gave her daughter up for adoption, in a first for UK soaps. Off-screen, the 59-year-old actress dated her co-star Nick Berry, who played her stepson Simon Beale. After leaving the show three times after 1998 (the last in January 2000), Gillian’s character was killed off-screen in 2006. Since EastEnders, she has had roles in Footballers Wives, The Bill and Hollyoaks. She reprised the role of Kathy for a Children In Need special last November.
20. Adam Woodyatt (Ian Beale)
The only member of the cast who has appeared on the show without a break for 30 years, Adam’s alter-ego Ian has been married five times, and is currently engaged to Jane, one of his ex-wives. One of his biggest storylines saw him shot by a hitman hired by another wife, Cindy. In 2012, Ian had a breakdown and ended up living at a homeless hostel. The 46-year-old actor won the lifetime achievement trophy at the British Soap Awards in 2013, after nearly 3,000 appearances on the show.
21. Nick Berry (Simon Wicks)
(Myung Jung Kim/PA)
Younger viewers might be more familiar with Nick from period police series Heartbeat, but his first well-loved character was as Wicksy on EastEnders. Nick wasn’t the original actor in the role – he took over when the first Simon left after refusing to use racist language as the character. Nick then ran his own production company, Jacobi Valentine, for a number of years and made a cameo appearance in EastEnders in 2012.
22. Peter Dean (Pete Beale)
Peter as Pete, back row far right, with the Beale family (PA)
Pete was Pauline’s twin brother until his demise in a car crash in 1993. Actor Peter was well set up for the role as a market trader as that had been his real job before being spotted by Prunella Scales, who encouraged him into the profession. Post-EastEnders, 75-year-old Peter is teetotal as a Buddhist, likes to race greyhounds and is still an actor.
23. Oscar James (Tony Carpenter)
Oscar in Troilus And Cressida (Peter Jordan/PA)
Tony was the Vic’s odd-job man, where he caught the eye of Angie and they started an affair, although he later discovered she was only trying to get back at husband Den. Tony enjoyed two years in Walford before leaving to live in Trinidad. Oscar, who played him, is now 72 and went on to tread the boards performing Shakespeare.
24. Gretchen Franklin (Ethel Skinner)
Ethel did a fair old stint on Albert Square, finally leaving in 2000 when her character chose to end her own life with the help of pal Dot Cotton. Gretchen, who played her, was a former dancer in Soho and also appeared in Crossroads. She died in 2005, aged 94.
25. Willy the pug
Willy, second left held by Gretchen, poses with other celebs and their pooches (PA)
Ever the consort of Ethel, Willy was the most spoilt dog ever to take up residence in E20. But the other Albert Square residents weren’t quite so keen on Willy and Ethel even turned down two marriage proposals when her fiances to be asked her to show the pug the door. Poor Willy was put down in 1992 and two weeks later, the dog who played him died, too.
26. Roly the standard poodle
Roly poses alongside Willy (PA)
Roly only survived canine co-star Willy by a year – he met a tragic end while chasing a cat into the path of traffic in 1993. Owners Den and Angie adored the dog, but his real-life owner was EastEnders creator Julia Smith. He went to doggy heaven in 1995.
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