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Nottingham Post
Nottingham Post
Paul Speed

What happened to the cast of hit firefighter TV show London's Burning - from EastEnders to pro poker playing

Legendary ITV firefighter drama London’s Burning kept us all entertained from the safety of our sofas for an incredible 14 years.

Its gripping, emotional storylines coupled with an often laugh-out-loud script proved a winning combination. But the show’s success was largely down to how much audiences warmed to the hugely likeable Blue Watch team.

We took characters such as Rambo, Sicknote, Recall and Poison to our hearts, religiously tuning in each week to check-in with the boys at Blackwall.

The show also featured Samantha Beckinsale, who studied drama at Nottingham’s Clarendon College. The only daughter of actor Richard Beckinsale and his first wife Margaret Bradley, her half-sister is actress Kate Beckinsale. Samantha played the role of firefighter Kate Stevens in the show.

London’s Burning started life as a two-hour film in 1986 before it became the television series in 1988 we all know and love.

There were a total of 172 episodes before the show went out in a literal blaze of glory in 2002.

Read more: What happened to the cast of Hi-de-Hi! - from soap stars to the West End

The firefighter drama was originally shot at Bermondsey’s Dockhead Fire Station, with filming in the first three series taking place in the actual watchroom, mess and bay area – where real-life firefighters leapt at the chance to work shifts as extras!

Whether it be laugh-out-loud comedy, intense high-octane drama or even a steamy romance, the show really did have something for everyone, and still holds a fond place in the nation’s hearts.

With that in mind, let’s find out what happened to the cast members:

Richard Walsh as Bert 'Sicknote' Quigley (Daily Mirror)

Richard Walsh - Bert 'Sicknote' Quigley

Blackwall’s resident hypochondriac, the aptly named Sicknote was forever complaining about some malady or another.

A wannabe star of the stage, often making appearances alongside wife Jean, his colleagues would begrudgingly go along to show their support.

Sicknote bowed out in series 12, when he sadly perished in an explosion at a fireworks factory.

Since leaving the series, actor Richard has appeared in daytime TV’s Doctors, the movie Daddy’s Girl, Midsomer Murders and Heartbeat.

The now 70-year-old also made a cameo appearance in Netflix series The Crown as Joe Gormley in 2019.

Sean Blowers as John Hallam (Daily Mirror)

Sean Blowers - John Hallam

Did the immensely likeable but rather uptight John ever get that promotion he was chasing? He never did, did he?

The character was left severely traumatised after being buried alive when a wall collapsed on a job in series four.

Five years later, John was brutally killed after falling 80 feet when a gantry gave way amid a warehouse inferno.

Actor Sean, now 61, also appeared in EastEnders, Crossroads, Heartbeat and Doctor Who.

You may also recognise him for playing Wyman Manderly in the finale of season six of the hugely popular Game of Thrones.

Jerome Flynn as Kenny 'Rambo' Baines (SHARED CONTENT UNIT)

Jerome Flynn - Kenny ‘Rambo’ Baines

“But he wasn’t in London’s Burning!” we hear you cry.

Well, he did only feature in the initial TV movie, but we felt actor Jerome was worth a mention as he was just so phenomenally successful post Blackwall.

Jerome of course starred as Paddy Garvey of the King’s Fusiliers alongside Robson Green in hit drama Soldier Soldier.

The pals even enjoyed multiple Number Ones in the music charts with their versions of Unchained Melody, I Believe and What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted?

Jerome, now 58, appeared in chilling 19th century drama Ripper Street and an episode of Charlie Brooker’s disturbing Black Mirror in 2016.

Game of Thrones fans will instantly recognise him as loveable rogue Bronn, who featured in countless episodes from 2011 to 2019. In 2019, he also appeared as Berrada opposite Keanu Reeves and Halle Berry in John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum.

Glen Murphy as George Green (LWT)

Glen Murphy - George Green

The show’s longest-serving character and the only one to have appeared in every single series of London’s Burning.

This hot-tempered former boxer joined Blue Watch at the start of series one, and enjoyed a steady stream of romances throughout his tenure.

Actor Glen is most well-known as the London's Burning character, but he has also appeared in British thriller flick Tank Malling and The Bill.

Back in 2007 he was awarded an MBE for his charity work after raising more than £1m for good causes.

Now, 64, Glen got to star with his childhood buddy Ray Winstone in the 2014 thriller Lords of London.

Ben Onwukwe as Stuart 'Recall' MacKenzie (Granada TV)

Ben Onwukwe - Stuart ‘Recall’ MacKenzie

Dubbed ‘Recall’ thanks to his unbelievable photographic memory, Stuart joined the team midway through series 4.

The firefighter was almost dismissed from the crew when he refused to shave off his beard – something the team rectified by tying him down and shaving it off for him!

Since the show ended, actor Ben, now 64, has been keeping himself busy appearing in Coronation Street, as Clyde Johnson in Holby City and as Dessie Dunn in EastEnders.

Back in 2018 he starred as Eric Pratchett in drama Safe, and the following year took on the role of W.E.B Dubois in Hero, inspired by the life and times of the Caribbean war hero, judge and diplomat Ulric Cross.

James Hazeldine as Mike 'Bayleaf' Wilson (Daily Mirror)

James Hazeldine - Mike 'Bayleaf' Wilson

A hugely popular member of the team, Bayleaf was mess manager until he departed the show in series 8.

The character was involved in many gripping storylines, such as being knocked unconscious when a wall collapsed and also being buried alive.

Very much a star of stage and screen, actor James was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and starred in children’s TV series Chocky as well as Heartbeat.

James took on the role of Sigmund Freud in the play The Talking Cure in December 2002, but was shortly taken ill and sadly died a week later. He was 55.

Trevor Nunn, director of the Royal National Theatre, described him as "a leading actor of minutely observed truthfulness, comic brio and emotional daring" who "was also a man of infectious enthusiasm, great warmth and humanity who was universally popular amongst his colleagues".

Michael Garner as Geoffrey 'Poison' Pearce (LWT)

Michael Garner - Geoffrey ‘Poison’ Pearce

It wasn’t until series 6 that old Poison joined the watch. He received his unpleasant nickname as he had a penchant for gossip and would overly pander to his seniors.

The character wasn’t all bad, however, and could at times be very sensitive.

Post-Blackwall, actor Michael joined many of his co-stars by appearing in Doctors, Holby City and Casualty.

Rather unexpectedly he appeared in pop starlet Ellie Goulding’s music video for How Long Will I Love You in 2013.

Michael, now 67, is perhaps best known for treading the boards, with far-reaching roles in countless Shakespeare plays, Educating Rita and the less high-brow An Evening With Gary Lineker.

Ross Boatman and Sam Beckinsale (Mirrorpix)

Ross Boatman - Kevin Medhurst

Renowned as Blue Watch’s resident troublemaker, this wayward firefighter would often scrap with colleagues and question the authority of those above him.

The character Kevin came from a broken home and had suffered much sadness in his life before he joined the boys at the station.

Actor Ross is a top poker player and member of professional playing quartet The Hendon Mob.

Now 58, the actor has also enjoyed success in the European Poker Tour and proudly has several poker titles under his belt.

Connor Byrne as Rob 'Hyper' Sharpe (LWT)

Connor Byrne - Rob 'Hyper' Sharpe

Emotional scenes ensued in series 12 and 13 when Hyper came out as gay to his colleagues.

He was later promoted to Leading Firefighter but never got a proper exit as he left for unknown reasons by the start of the final series.

Actor Connor is perhaps best known as playing Mike Milligan in all three of the Tracy Beaker shows, becoming the programme’s longest-serving cast member.

Now 57, he also played Geoff in three episodes of Emmerdale back in 2019 and is appearing on our screens this year as Dale Roberts in Doctors.

Samantha Beckinsale as Kate Stevens (Mirrorpix)

Samantha Beckinsale – Kate Stevens

Kate joined the crew in 1990 and quickly became a much-loved member of the team during her two-year stint.

Actress Samantha had previously starred as WPC Martin in an episode of Thames Television's Never The Twain.

Later in 1994 she landed the role of Gillian in sitcom Time After Time.

Three years later she starred as Jilly Howell in the short-lived sitcom Get Well Soon and in 1998 became Gillian Monroe in the short-lived sitcom Duck Patrol with One Foot in The Grave’s Richard Wilson.

Samantha, now 55, has also appeared in Doctors, Holby City and Heartbeat.

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