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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Frances Kindon

EastEnders' original cast now - sex scandals, changed identity and tragic deaths

EastEnders fans are in mourning after the death of Bill Treacher, who played the iconic Arthur Fowler.

The veteran actor - who was one of the BBC soap's original cast members and appeared from 1985 until 1996 - died on Saturday aged 92.

A statement from his family confirmed that his health had taken a downturn over the last few years.

"The family of the actor Bill Treacher are sad to announce that Bill died late Saturday night, 5 November 2022," his family said.

"He was 92 years old and his health had been declining for some time. He was much loved by his wife, Kate, his son, Jamie and his daughter, Sophie.

Bill Treacher played EastEnders' original, Arthur Fowler (PA)

"Bill was a brilliant actor and a wonderful husband and father, plus a very fine human being. He will be hugely missed."

Sadly, he's not the only one of the soap's biggest legends to have tragically passed away.

Pauline Fowler actress Wendy Richard and Leslie Grantham, who played Dirty Den, are among those no longer with us. But what happened to the other original stars of the soap?

From sex scandals to drink and drugs, varied careers and new identities, here's what came next...

Wendy Richard - Pauline Fowler

Pauline Fowler with husband Arthur and son Mark (BBC)

The legendary actress was the only star name that was brought into the original EastEnders cast after finding fame on Are You Being Served?.

She played feisty matriarch Pauline Fowler continuously for a staggering 21 years until she decided to leave in 2006.

EastEnders fans were in tears at her tragic on-screen death at Christmas when she was found dead in the snow in the middle of the Square.

Wendy was given a 'Special Achievement' award at the 2007 British Soap Awards and an MBE.

She went on to appear in adverts for The Post Office and made a hilarious appearance in Benidorm in 2007.

Sadly, Wendy passed away from breast cancer in February 2009 with her husband John Burns at her bedside.

John Altman - Nasty Nick Cotton

Nasty Nick Cotton, played by John Altman (BBC)

Nasty Nick was a villain from the start of EastEnders when he committed the soap's first murder in the opening episode.

Actor John Altman had a record six separate stints in the show over the years - with his evil character even trying to kill his 'old ma' Dot.

But his final appearance came in the 30th anniversary in 2015 when Dot watched her nasty son die.

Away from Walford, John, now 70, starred in musical Chicago, made pantomime appearances and starred in Daz adverts.

His autobiography, In The Nick of Time, was released in June 2016 and he appeared in The Real Marigold Hotel in 2020.

Anna Wing - Lou Beale

Lou Beale was the original formidable mother and was head of the Beale family - keeping Pauline and Pete in check.

After three years on the soap, Anna, who was 70 when EastEnders began, decided to leave but later admitted she regretted the decision.

She went on to work on the stage and had roles on Casualty, Doctors and The Bill.

Anna also appeared in The Calcium Kid alongside Orlando Bloom in 2004 and 2007’s Son of Rambow.

The actress worked right up until her death in July 2013 at the impressive age of 98.

Leslie Grantham - Dirty Den Watts

Leslie Grantham played EastEnders villain Dirty Den (BBC)

Leslie played famous villain Dirty Den Watts, who got his daughter's best friend pregnant and shoved wife Angie around.

He got his comeuppance in 1989 when he was shot dead and fell into a canal, but he was brought back from the dead in 2003.

But Den didn't last long this time round as new wife Chrissie hit him over the head with an iron doorstop.

Leslie's own life was surrounded by as much drama as his character's.

He was a convicted murderer when he joined the show, having served a 10 year prison sentence for killing a West German taxi driver in1966.

In 2004 he was caught in a sex scandal when an undercover reporter got footage of him exposing himself on webcam.

He also had to apologise after insulting several of his fellow cast members.

Leslie starred in pantomimes as the villain and did small bits on TV and the stage.

The actor died from lung cancer in June 2018 at the age of 71.

Bill Treacher - Arthur Fowler

Arthur Fowler with wife Pauline on EastEnders in 1985 (BBC)

Bill Treacher was the very first actor to be cast in EastEnders back in 1985.

He played Arthur Fowler for 11 years through his character's nervous breakdown, two prison spells and affair.

With the stress of the gruelling hours affecting his health, Treacher decided to quit after being told by doctors the job would kill him if he didn't leave soon.

Arthur was killed off in 1996 and a memorial bench remains in the middle of the Square.

After his time on the soap, Bill starred in George and the Dragon with Patrick Swayze, The Bill and Casualty.

Treacher was married to Australian actress Katherine Kessey, with whom he shared two children, and they were longstanding residents of Suffolk.

In 2015, he said he was suffering from ataxia, a disorder that can affect co-ordination, balance and speech.

He passed away on November 5.

Gretchen Franklin - Ethel Skinner

Gretchen Franklin played gossip monger Ethel Skinner until 1988 when her character was put into an old people's home.

The actress did not want Ethel "becoming a sad old dear who the others visited occasionally", but she did make some brief returns over the years.

Ethel fully departed Walford in 1997 to live in a retirement village then came back in July 2000 to reveal she was terminally ill with cancer.

Her last scenes aired in September 2000 amid a controversial euthanasia storyline as Ethel asked best friend Dot to help her take her own life.

Gretchen retired from acting at the age of 89 and donated her EastEnders royalties to animal charities.

She died in her sleep at her home in July 2009 just four days after her 94th birthday.

Nej Adamson (Nejdet Silah) - Ali Osman

Nej played original cafe owner Ali Osman, who struggled with a gambling addiction and had bitter rows with wife Sue.

After leaving the soap in 1989, actor Nejdet Silah changed his name to Nej Adam­son.

Now 63, he initially struggled for work after the soap and feared he had been typecast. But Hollywood came calling in 2006 when he landed a part as a sailor in Pirates of the Carib­bean: Dead Man's Chest.

Anita Dobson - Angie Watts

Anita Dobson played the long-suffering Angie Watts (BBC)

Anita Dobson played alcoholic Queen Vic landlady Angie Watts until 1988.

Thirty million viewers tuned in on Christmas Day 1986 to see Den hand Angie her divorce papers - and no soap episode has beaten that total since.

She reached number four in the UK singles chart in August 1986 with a rendition of the EastEnders theme tune called 'Anyone Can Fall In Love'.

EastEnders bosses pleaded with Anita, now 73, to return to Walford for years but eventually gave up and Ang was killed off-screen of alcohol poisoning in 2002.

She married Queen guitarist Brian May in 2000 and has had a number of TV and stage roles since leaving the show, including The Bill, Casualty and Holby City.

She also took part in Strictly Come Dancing in 2011 with pro partner Robin Windsor.

Most recently, she starred in TV movie Torvill & Dean in 2018 and in series The Worst Witch in 2019.

Roly and Willy

Willy, left, and Roly were big stars of the soap (BBC)

Roly was the Watts family's beloved poodle, who seemed to get more love and attention than Sharon.

In a horrible twist, Roly was nearly killed when Grant Mitchell set fire to the Vic for the insurance money.

Sadly, Roly died on screen in 1993 when he was run over while chasing a cat.

EastEnders creator Julia Smith was the pooch's real-life owner - and he tragically passed away for real in 1995.

Meanwhile, Ethel's little Willy, an adorable pug, was put down in heartbreaking scenes in 1992.

Just two weeks later, the poor dog that played Willy also died.

Peter Dean - Pete Beale

Peter Dean played market store holder Pete Beale (BBC Archive)

Peter Dean got the role of Pete Beale when Leslie Grantham, who had also auditioned for the part, was given Den Watts instead,

The cockney fruit and veg seller stood on the market from 1985 until May 1993.

With Peter slamming the producers in public, with his contract reportedly terminated after irreconcilable differences, his character was killed in a car crash off-screen in December that year.

Now 83, he is a practising Buddhist and has been a security guard and worked at a furniture yard.

Peter went on to make guest appearances in Bo' Selecta and Little Britain.

In 2018, he took part in BBC series, The Real Marigold Hotel.

Nick Berry - Simon Wicks

Actor Nick Berry who played Simon Wicks (Andy Oliver/ Ken Goff Photos)

Nick Berry played Simon Wicks for five years and during a special one-off 10-second appearance in 2012 for Pat Butcher's funeral.

He also played Heartbeat's PC Nick Rowan and recorded the title song which reached number two in the UK singles chart.

Nick, 59, has now retired from acting and ran his own production company, Valentine Productions, until he resigned in October 2019.

Linda Davidson - Mary 'The Punk' Smith

Linda Davidson who played Mary Smith (PA)

Wayward punk Mark Smith was played by Linda Davidson until May 1988.

After quitting the soap she starred in First of the Summer Wine, Casualty, The Bill and on stage in The Rocky Horror Show.

She left acting in the mid 90s to be in charge of the BBC's drama websites and was editor of E4 interactive in the 2000s.

Linda, 58, is now the Director of Digital, Technology and Information for the Jamie Oliver Group.

Despite retiring from acting, she did return to Albert Square to reprise the role of Mary for Dr Legg's funeral in 2019.

Tom Watt - George 'Lofty' Holloway

Tom Watt (BBC/PA)

Tom Watt played lovable Queen Vic barman Lofty Holloway from the start of the soap until 1988.

He had a minor role in 1992 movie Patriot Games and Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes movie.

In an unexpected twist, Tom, 66, went on to become a sports journalist, working for talkSPORT, BT Sport and BBC Radio 5 Live.

He was ghostwriter for David Beckham ’s 2003 autobiography and is now a writer and consultant for EA Sports.

Tom also made a very brief return to EastEnders for Dr Legg's funeral and was seen at the wake at the Queen Vic.

Susan Tully - Michelle Fowler

Susan Tully played Michelle Fowler in EastEnders (BBC)

Having become famous in Grange Hill, Susan Tully then made the step up to EastEnders as Michelle Fowler.

During a decade on the soap, Tully's most shocking storyline was Michelle getting pregnant aged 16 after having an affair with best friend Sharon's dad Den.

When the role of Michelle was recast to Jenna Russell in 2016, Susan reportedly gave her blessing.

Susan, 59, has switched to behind the camera and directed episodes of EastEnders, Tracy Beaker, The Bill, Lark Rise to Candleford and Silent Witness.

Her most recent directing credit were for Tim Roth's show Tin Star and Line of Duty in 2019.

Paul J. Medford - Kelvin Carpenter

Actors (clockwise from top left) Paul J Medford, Adam Woodyatt, Letitia Dean and Susan Tully in 1985 (Getty Images)
Letitia Dean and Paul Medford released a hit single (BBC Records)

Paul's EastEnders career was most notable for the hit single he sang with Letitia Dean.

'Something Outa Nothing' was written for a storyline but reached number 12 in the UK singles chart when it was released in November 1986.

His character, Kelvin Carpenter, remained in the soap when the rest of his family left but eventually walked out in 1987.

Paul wanted to follow his singing career and found a lot of success on stage in many West End musicals including The Lion King and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

He was named as Nickelodeon's Vice President of Unscripted, Current Series in July 2019.

Sandy Ratcliff - Sue Osman

Sandy Ratcliff played Sue Osman (SWNS)

Sandy Ratcliff became a household name playing Sue Osman, the long-suffering wife of cafe owner Ali.

While her character was rocked by a cot death, cheating and insanity, off-screen Sandy was struggling with a heroin addiction.

She was written out of the show in 1989 but battled her demons and trained as a counsellor before retiring.

Her then boyfriend Michael Shorey was jailed for murder in 1991 - with his court case being Sandy's last public appearance.

Sandy sadly died on April 7 at the age of 70.

It's thought she died in her sleep at a care home in Stamford Hill, North London.

Ross Davidson - Andy O'Brien

Ross Davidson who played Andy O'Brien (Daily Mirror)

Ross made EastEnders history playing altruistic nurse Andy O'Brien for 18 months.

He was the first main character to be killed off on the soap in a nasty road accident in August 1986.

After his on-screen death, actor Andy presented BBC lunchtime show Daytime Live and appeared in Brookside and Holly­oaks.

Sadly, Andy died from inoperable brain cancer in 2006 at the age of just 57-years-old.

Oscar James - Tony Carpenter

Oscar James, right, played Tony Carpenter (GETTY)

Trinidadian actor Oscar James was the first black actor to appear on Emmerdale and starred in EastEnders for two years.

His character, Tony Carpenter, clashed with racist Nick Cotton and struggled to do anything that was good enough for nagging wife Hannah.

Since then, he's performed in everything from Shakespeare to London’s Burning before retiring due to ill-health.

Oscar, 80, starred in Casualty, Doctors, The Bill, Dream Team and played the shopkeeper whose shop in which Charlie finds the golden ticket in Tim Burton's film adaptation of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.

Shirley Cheriton - Debbie Wilkins

Shirley Cheriton with Wendy Richards in September 1986 (BBC)

Debbie Wilkins was the first posh Walford resident who was considered to be stuck-up by her working class neighbours.

She left Walford in May 1987 after marrying Detective Terry Rich and it was later revealed in a letter she was pregnant.

In real-life, actress Shirley, 67, left her husband for co-star Ross Davidson but she ended the relationship when he allegedly cheated with an air hostess.

Her last known and credited TV role was in 2009 drama FM.

Andrew Johnson - Saeed Jeffery

Andrew played shopkeeper Saeed Jeffery, who struggled in an arranged marriage, in the very first episode until December of 1985.

The actor left for Hollywood and had parts in Murder She Wrote, Inspector Morse and film Secret Agent 420.

His most recent role was in TV series The Bold and the Beautiful from 2018 to 2019.

Leonard Fenton - Dr Harold Legg

Dr Harold Legg was the first and most popular doctor that has looked after the residents of Albert Square.

Leonard Fenton, a former army engineer, left EastEnders in 1997 but returned for some much-welcomed stints in 2000, 2004 and 2007.

He made a full return in 2018 and made his final ever appearance in February 2019 when his character died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Leonard exhibited his artwork in between acting and directing, while also performing radio plays.

He died in January aged 95.

June Brown - Dot Cotton

June joined EastEnders in 1985 as Nasty Nick's dear old ma Dorothy Cotton.

Aside from a break between 1993 and 1997, June has been a key member of the cast and the centre of some major storylines.

She received much praise for carrying an entire episode single-handedly in January 2008 as Dot looked back over her life.

June began to lose her eyesight in 2015, which led to a similar storyline for Dot, and sadly her condition worsened in 2019.

She explained she could no longer recognise her friends as she deals with age-related macular degeneration, a condition she has lived with for 10 years.

She told the Mirror she has no central vision and could no longer respond to any fan mail.

June left the soap in 2020 (BBC)

"I haven't driven for years and I can't really go out socially due to my eyesight," said the actress.

June quit the soap in 2020, with Dot leaving a voicemail to Sonia revealing she had moved to Ireland in her final scene.

Asked whether EastEnders had put her on a retainer, Brown replied: "I don't want a retainer. I've left. I've left for good.

"I've sent myself to Ireland and that's where she'll stay. I've left EastEnders."

The door was left open for June to return in the future but she sadly passed away in April aged 95.

Letitia Dean - Sharon Watts

Letitia Dean plays Sharon Watts (BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

Letitia cheekily lied in her EastEnders audition and claimed she was cockney despite coming from Hertfordshire - and it certainly paid off.

The actress played Den and Angie's adopted daughter Sharon until 1995, then returned from 2001 until 2006.

But she couldn't stay away from Albert Square for too long and has been back in the cast since 2012.

During her time away from Walford, Letitia, 54, starred in Casualty, Doctors and The Bill.

She starred in the stage version of High School Musical, Calendar Girls and released her own fitness DVD in 2009.

Letitia also made the quarter finals of Strictly back in 2007 with pro partner Darren Bennett.

Adam Woodyatt - Ian Beale

Adam Woodyatt plays Ian Beale (BBC / Kieron McCarron)

EastEnders' longest serving cast member, Adam Woodyatt is only star to have appeared continuously since the soap's inception.

The Ken Barlow of Walford, Ian has been an ever-present in Albert Square and built up a business empire.

It's not been an easy ride for Ian, who has been married six times, lost two children, was shot by a hitman hired by his ex and was left homeless.

Adam has been rewarded for his efforts and won the Lifetime Achievement trophy at the British Soap Awards in 2013 after nearly 3,000 appearances on the show.

In 2020, Adam, 54, split from wife Beverley Sharp after 22 years of marriage. He has also appeared on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here.

Gillian Taylforth - Kathy Beale

Gillian Taylforth as Cathy Beale (BBC/Kieron McCarron/Jack Barnes)

Gillian starred as Kathy in the very first episode of EastEnders and was at the centre of some dramatic storylines, including being raped by the evil James Willmott-Brown.

The actress left in 1998 but made a brief return in 199 for Ross Kemp's exit storyline.

Gillian was upset when her character was killed off-screen in a car-crash in South Africa in 2006.

But Kathy was another EastEnders favourite who rose from the dead and shocked viewers by returning in 2015.

During her spell away from EastEnders, Gillian, 67, played Jackie Pascoe-Webb in Footballers' Wives and Sandy Roscoe in Hollyoaks.

As well as acting, Gillian was partnered with Anton du Beke on Strictly Come Dancing in 2008 and went into the Celebrity Big Brother house in January 2013.

Gillian is currently still working on EastEnders - with Kathy owning her own bar and running the cafe.

Which EastEnders character would you like to see return to Albert Square? Share your thoughts in the comments section below...

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