Bill Treacher, who played Arthur Fowler in EastEnders, has died aged 92. The veteran actor was one of the BBC soap’s original cast members and appeared from 1985 until 1996.
He died late on Saturday night after suffering declining health for some time. A statement from his family said: “The family of the actor Bill Treacher are sad to announce that Bill died late Saturday night, 5 November 2022.
“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 was a brilliant actor and a wonderful husband and father, plus a very fine human being. He will be hugely missed. The family respectfully request privacy at this time.”
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.
Treacher appeared in EastEnders until 1996, when his troubled character was in prison for a crime he did not commit. After receiving a blow to his head during a violent fracas, he was released but later suffered a brain haemorrhage at his beloved allotment.
He died in hospital, leaving the Fowler family heartbroken. After his character was killed off, Treacher had roles in The Bill and Casualty, and films such as The Musketeer (2001), Tale Of The Mummy (1998), and George And The Dragon (2004).
A spokeswoman for EastEnders said: “It is with great sadness that we learnt of the passing of Bill Treacher. As one of our original cast members, Bill created a much-loved character in Arthur Fowler and, alongside Wendy Richard, they created an iconic family in the Fowlers who still remain at the heart of the show.
“Bill left EastEnders in 1996, so it is a true testament to both he and the character that he created in Arthur that he is still thought of so fondly. Bill will always be remembered for his charm, sense of humour – with a smile that lit up the room – and more importantly as a family man who was devoted to his wife and children.
“Bill will forever be held in great affection by everyone at EastEnders and all those that loved watching him. Rest in peace Bill and thank you for the memories.”
Executive producer Chris Clenshaw said: “Like so many, I grew up watching EastEnders with the beloved Arthur Fowler on his allotment, one of Walford’s originals who can still be described as a true heart of the Square.
"To this day, Arthur Fowler is still so fondly remembered by the audience and that is due to the character that Bill created and the reason why the Fowler name is still very much alive in Albert Square, as are the great memories of those that worked with Bill. We send all our love and thoughts to Bill’s wife and family.”
Gillian Taylforth, who played Kathy Beale in EastEnders, said: “I have so many happy memories of Bill, in fact we were only sharing stories of him at work the other day, about how he always had a sparkle in his eyes, usually before he mischievously set us off laughing during scenes. Bill was a wonderful, wonderful man who will be truly missed and I am sending all our love to his wife Kate and his family.”
Letitia Dean, another original cast member who played Sharon Watts, said: “Bill really was the life and soul of the set, he was an absolute joy to be around and always had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye.
“As an actor, Bill was meticulous and he went to great lengths to portray Arthur, from the smallest scenes to the heartbreaking stories. Bill was an utter professional, a wonderful man and he will be greatly missed. I’m sending all my love to his family.”
Todd Carty, who played the Fowlers’ eldest son Mark, said: “I’m so sorry to hear about Bill passing, I absolutely loved working with him. He was not only an amazing actor but a kind and sincere man.
“My thoughts are with his family at this time. He’ll be sadly missed, I will never forget him. May he rest in peace.”