MailOnline looks back at the lives of EastEnders dogs Willy and Roly who were part of the 1985 cast

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MailOnline looks back at the lives of EastEnders dogs Willy and Roly who were part of the 1985 cast

EastEnders fans were on Tuesday mourning the loss of legendary EastEnders star Bill Treacher after he passed away aged 92.And as soap lovers remembere

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EastEnders fans were on Tuesday mourning the loss of legendary EastEnders star Bill Treacher after he passed away aged 92.

And as soap lovers remembered the actor – who played lovable character Arthur Fowler on the BBC soap from 1985 until 1996 and was one of the very first people to be cast in the show – MailOnline took a look at the other original EastEnders stars who appeared alongside Bill in his heyday, with their lives and careers taking various paths.

However, there were two other original cast members who made their mark in the show’s debut episode  in 1985 – dogs Roly and Willy.

With the human actors embroiled in all kinds of drama in the soap, the lovable pet pooches had plenty of action of their own – from blocking marriages, saving lives and even revealing the identity of 16-year-old Michelle Fowler’s baby daddy.

While one dog had quite the real life away from the soap, having starred as William the pug in the 1984  BBC adaptation of  Swallows and Amazons.

And as soap fans prepare to say goodbye to legendary actor Bill, MailOnline takes a look back at the four-legged friends – as well as the other cast – that  starred alongside him as the soap first hit the screens almost 40 years ago. 

A dog's life! With the human actors embroiled in all kinds of drama in the soap, the lovable pet pooches had plenty of action of their own - from blocking marriages, saving lives and even revealing the identity of 16-year-old Michelle Fowler's baby daddy

A dog's life! With the human actors embroiled in all kinds of drama in the soap, the lovable pet pooches had plenty of action of their own - from blocking marriages, saving lives and even revealing the identity of 16-year-old Michelle Fowler's baby daddy

A dog’s life! With the human actors embroiled in all kinds of drama in the soap, the lovable pet pooches had plenty of action of their own – from blocking marriages, saving lives and even revealing the identity of 16-year-old Michelle Fowler’s baby daddy

1. Roly the poodle (starred from  1985 to 1993)

Alongside other cast members, Roly made his debut in the soap in 1985, having been cast less than a week before casting began.

The pooch almost didn’t get the role as soap bosses initially wanted a German Shepherd to be named Prince, but couldn’t find an Alsatian light enough to blend into the background on set – meaning it was good news for the then seven-month-old standard poodle.

Landlords Den and Angie Watts never took much notice of daughter Sharon, but they poured their hearts out to their pooch. Whenever Den was in a rage, he’d grab Roly’s lead and drag the poor animal round the Square.

Soap star: Alongside other cast members, Roly made his debut in the soap in 1985, having been cast less than a week before casting began (pictured with soap family Den, Angie and Sharon Watts in 1985)

Soap star: Alongside other cast members, Roly made his debut in the soap in 1985, having been cast less than a week before casting began (pictured with soap family Den, Angie and Sharon Watts in 1985)

Soap star: Alongside other cast members, Roly made his debut in the soap in 1985, having been cast less than a week before casting began (pictured with soap family Den, Angie and Sharon Watts in 1985) 

Roly had quite the adventurous life on Albert Square, with the pooch nearly killed when Grant Mitchell set fire to the Vic for the insurance money.

The dog turned out to be quite the life saver himself in 1987, having been the first to find the then Pat Wicks in the square gardens after she was savagely attacked by the Walford ripper – not that Pat was grateful as the next year she demanded the dog be kicked out The Vic as the Butchers took over the pub.

Roly also saved the life of Eddie Royle, who had been stabbed and left to die in the square, with the dog continuing to bark until he alerted someone of the danger.

A most notable storyline for Roly was being instrumental in revealing that the father of the then 16-year-old Michelle Fowler’s baby was non other than Den Watts – the adoptive dad of her best pal Sharon.

Ruff life: The dog turned out to be quite the life saver himself in 1987, having been the first to find the then Pat Wicks in the square gardens after she was savagely attacked by the Walford ripper

Ruff life: The dog turned out to be quite the life saver himself in 1987, having been the first to find the then Pat Wicks in the square gardens after she was savagely attacked by the Walford ripper

Ruff life: The dog turned out to be quite the life saver himself in 1987, having been the first to find the then Pat Wicks in the square gardens after she was savagely attacked by the Walford ripper

After much speculation in 1985, Michelle (Susan Tully) headed off to secretly meet the mystery man at the nearby canal, only for Roly to come bounding out of his car – revealing his identity to be Den (Leslie Grantham).

The beloved character died on screen when he was run over while chasing a cat in 1993, with Roly being retired after becoming too old to appear regularly on screen.

Roly’s real-life owner was EastEnders creator Julia Smith. He died in real life in 1995 following an operation to try and help his breathing problems which was brought on by the heatwave that year.

2. Willy the pug (starred from 1985 to 1992)

Willy was the other original show dog who paved the way for the likes of later EastEnders canines such as Wellard, Lady Di and Bronson – with the pug sharing a dressing room with co-star Roly.

Willy was spoilt, greedy and mischievous – having pinched the steaks for his owner Ethel Skinner’s pies and stealing the Fowler’s Christmas Turkey.

But while the other characters couldn’t stand him, with the local doctor even complaining bitterly about the mess Willy made on the pavements, his owner Ethel (Gretchen Franklin) loved him.

Paw-some: Willy was the other original show dog who paved the way for the likes of later EastEnders canines such as Wellard, Lady Di and Bronson - with the pug sharing a dressing room with co-star Roly

Paw-some: Willy was the other original show dog who paved the way for the likes of later EastEnders canines such as Wellard, Lady Di and Bronson - with the pug sharing a dressing room with co-star Roly

Paw-some: Willy was the other original show dog who paved the way for the likes of later EastEnders canines such as Wellard, Lady Di and Bronson – with the pug sharing a dressing room with co-star Roly

So much was Ethel’s love for the pooch that she even went as far as to decline two marriage proposals when her suitors asked her to get rid of her precious pet.

Willy – who was originally called Phillip in the show and like Roly was cast a week before filming – also had other dramatic moments such as running away in 1986, ending up in a pet shop before being sold.

The pug was later tracked down to a new owner where it was revealed he had a new name of Rasputin. The pooch was eventually returned to a relieved Ethel thanks to the help of Lou Beale (Anna Wing).

Career: In real life, the dog had a career before making his soap debut, having appeared as William the pug in the BBC's 1984 series Swallows and Amazons Forever!, based on the beloved children's books by Arthur Ransome

Career: In real life, the dog had a career before making his soap debut, having appeared as William the pug in the BBC's 1984 series Swallows and Amazons Forever!, based on the beloved children's books by Arthur Ransome

Career: In real life, the dog had a career before making his soap debut, having appeared as William the pug in the BBC’s 1984 series Swallows and Amazons Forever!, based on the beloved children’s books by Arthur Ransome

Willy was put down in the show 1992 after struggling with old age and just two weeks later, the dog who had played him also died.

In real life, the dog had a career before making his soap debut, having appeared as William the pug in the BBC’s 1984 series Swallows and Amazons Forever!, based on the beloved children’s books by Arthur Ransome.

MailOnline looks back at the varied post-soap careers of the 1985 stars who appeared alongside Albert Square icon Bill Treacher.

Life after Walford: As soap fans prepare to say goodbye to Bill Treacher, MailOnline takes a look at the other EastEnders stars who appeared alongside Bill in his heyday, with their lives and careers taking various paths - The original EastEnders cast on set in 1984 (Mr Treacher is pictured third from the right)

Life after Walford: As soap fans prepare to say goodbye to Bill Treacher, MailOnline takes a look at the other EastEnders stars who appeared alongside Bill in his heyday, with their lives and careers taking various paths - The original EastEnders cast on set in 1984 (Mr Treacher is pictured third from the right)

Life after Walford: As soap fans prepare to say goodbye to Bill Treacher, MailOnline takes a look at the other EastEnders stars who appeared alongside Bill in his heyday, with their lives and careers taking various paths – The original EastEnders cast on set in 1984 (Mr Treacher is pictured third from the right)

So sad: EastEnders fans were on Tuesday mourning the loss of legendary EastEnders star Bill Treacher after he passed away aged 92. He was one of the first actors to be cast in EastEnders and appeared in the first episode, back in February 1985

So sad: EastEnders fans were on Tuesday mourning the loss of legendary EastEnders star Bill Treacher after he passed away aged 92. He was one of the first actors to be cast in EastEnders and appeared in the first episode, back in February 1985

So sad: EastEnders fans were on Tuesday mourning the loss of legendary EastEnders star Bill Treacher after he passed away aged 92. He was one of the first actors to be cast in EastEnders and appeared in the first episode, back in February 1985

1. Leslie Grantham (Played ‘Dirty’ Den Watts from 1985 to 1989 and from 2003 to 2005)

Fame: Leslie was famous playing Walford villain Den Watts in EastEnders, originally from 1985 to 1989 (pictured in 2003)

Fame: Leslie was famous playing Walford villain Den Watts in EastEnders, originally from 1985 to 1989 (pictured in 2003)

Career: Grantham had originally been a soldier, having enlisted in the British Army in 1965 and being sent to West Germany with the Royal Fusiliers

Career: Grantham had originally been a soldier, having enlisted in the British Army in 1965 and being sent to West Germany with the Royal Fusiliers

Fame: Leslie was famous playing Walford villain Den Watts in EastEnders, originally from 1985 to 1989 (pictured in 2003)

Leslie was famous playing Walford villain Den Watts in EastEnders, originally from 1985 to 1989.

A 1986 Christmas Day episode drew an audience of more than 30 million viewers, who watched as Watts handed over divorce papers to on-screen wife Angie.

His character was apparently killed off in 1989 but made a shock return to Albert Square in 2003.

Grantham had originally been a soldier, having enlisted in the British Army in 1965 and being sent to West Germany with the Royal Fusiliers.

Family: Den was the dastardly husband of Angie and adopted father of Sharon (pictured in 1985)

In 1966, however, he was involved in a struggle with a taxi driver he was attempting to rob in Osnabruck, Lower Saxony.

The driver, Felix Reese, was shot in the head and died and, in 1967, Grantham was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

It was during his time behind bars – he spent ten years in British jails – that he first took to acting. 

After leaving prison, he took up his famous role on EastEnders in the 1980s, before making a much-anticipated return in 2003.

RIP: He left EastEnders in 2015, and died in June 2018, reportedly having suffered from lung cancer

RIP: He left EastEnders in 2015, and died in June 2018, reportedly having suffered from lung cancer

RIP: He left EastEnders in 2015, and died in June 2018, reportedly having suffered from lung cancer

But it went far from smooth after he became embroiled in an online sex scandal in 2014, in which he was caught exposing himself to an undercover reporter via a webcam from his dressing room.

He left in 2015, and died in June 2018, reportedly having suffered from lung cancer.

2. Letitia Dean (Played Sharon Watts 1985 to 1995, 2001 to 2006 and from 2012 onwards)

Fresh-faced: Letitia made her Albert Square debut back in 1985 and still appears as feisty Sharon today

Fresh-faced: Letitia made her Albert Square debut back in 1985 and still appears as feisty Sharon today

Stalwart: Letitia continues to be a major part of the BBC soap

Stalwart: Letitia continues to be a major part of the BBC soap

Fresh-faced: Letitia made her Albert Square debut back in 1985 and still appears as feisty Sharon today

Letitia made her Albert Square debut back in 1985 and still appears as feisty Sharon today. 

A graduate of the Sylvia Young theatre school and another Grange Hill old girl, Letitia was born in Hertfordshire, but claimed at her audition she was a Cockney. Her dirty laugh apparently won her the part of Den and Angie’s daughter. 

She left for the first time in 1995, but returned to the show from 2001 to 2006, and has been back for a third time since 2012. 

In between her various stints on the soap, Letitia has appeared in the likes of 

Part: A graduate of the Sylvia Young theatre school and another Grange Hill old girl, Letitia was born in Hertfordshire, but claimed at her audition she was a Cockney.

Part: A graduate of the Sylvia Young theatre school and another Grange Hill old girl, Letitia was born in Hertfordshire, but claimed at her audition she was a Cockney.

Part: A graduate of the Sylvia Young theatre school and another Grange Hill old girl, Letitia was born in Hertfordshire, but claimed at her audition she was a Cockney.

The Bill, Casualty, Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married, Doctors and Drop the Dead Donkey.

The 54-year-old also competed on the fifth series of Strictly Come Dancing in 2007, and she later released a fitness DVD after crediting the show with inspiring her to lose weight. She starred in a touring production of Calendar Girls in 2010. 

After divorcing Jason Pethers in 2006, Letitia began dating 23-year-old model and dancer Bowen Perrin after meeting on the set of the Ipswich panto production Cinderella during Christmas 2007.

Landlady: A real EastEnder, Anita wasn't the first choice to play the Queen Vic landlady — when filming began, the role was taken by Jean Fennell. Jean was deemed 'too classy' and was replaced

Landlady: A real EastEnder, Anita wasn't the first choice to play the Queen Vic landlady — when filming began, the role was taken by Jean Fennell. Jean was deemed 'too classy' and was replaced

Fabulous: Anita, 73, has enjoyed a successful and varied career since quitting the soap

Fabulous: Anita, 73, has enjoyed a successful and varied career since quitting the soap

Landlady: A real EastEnder, Anita wasn’t the first choice to play the Queen Vic landlady — when filming began, the role was taken by Jean Fennell. Jean was deemed ‘too classy’ and was replaced

The actress currently believed to be single , with the star preferring to keep her personal life out of the spotlight.

3. Anita Dobson (Played Angie Watts from 1985 to 1988)

A real EastEnder, Anita wasn’t the first choice to play the Queen Vic landlady — when filming began, the role was taken by Jean Fennell. Jean was deemed ‘too classy’ and was replaced. 

In 1986, Anita had a No 4 hit with Anyone Can Fall In Love in 1986, produced by Queen guitarist Brian May — whom she married. Angie left EastEnders after three years. 

Love: In 1986, Anita had a No 4 hit with Anyone Can Fall In Love in 1986, produced by Queen guitarist Brian May — whom she married. Angie left EastEnders after three years 9pictured in 20210

Love: In 1986, Anita had a No 4 hit with Anyone Can Fall In Love in 1986, produced by Queen guitarist Brian May — whom she married. Angie left EastEnders after three years 9pictured in 20210

Love: In 1986, Anita had a No 4 hit with Anyone Can Fall In Love in 1986, produced by Queen guitarist Brian May — whom she married. Angie left EastEnders after three years 9pictured in 20210

Let's dance: She took part in Strictly Come Dancing in 2011 and played Hamlet's mother in a touring production in 2005 (pictured with Brendan Cole)

Let's dance: She took part in Strictly Come Dancing in 2011 and played Hamlet's mother in a touring production in 2005 (pictured with Brendan Cole)

Let’s dance: She took part in Strictly Come Dancing in 2011 and played Hamlet’s mother in a touring production in 2005 (pictured with Brendan Cole)

Anita, 73, has enjoyed a successful and varied career since quitting the soap. She took part in Strictly Come Dancing in 2011 and played Hamlet’s mother in a touring production in 2005. 

From September 2016 to January 2017 Dobson she starred as Madame Morrible in Wicked in London’s West End. 

4. Sandy Ratcliff (Played Sue Osman from 1985 to 1989)

Original cast member Sandy Ratcliff, who played much loved character Sue Osman, has died

Original cast member Sandy Ratcliff, who played much loved character Sue Osman, has died

The 70 year old was plagued by a long battle with addiction to drink and drugs, and later suffered three strokes and cancer

The 70 year old was plagued by a long battle with addiction to drink and drugs, and later suffered three strokes and cancer

Original cast member Sandy Ratcliff, who played much loved character Sue Osman, has died. The 70 year old was plagued by a long battle with addiction to drink and drugs, and later suffered three strokes and cancer

Original cast member Sandy Ratcliff, who played Sue Osman, was found dead aged 70 in a north London care home in April 2019.

Appearing as the much-loved character from the first episode of the BBC1 soap in 1985 up until 1989, she took on a number of tough storylines – including when she lost her baby to cot death syndrome. 

And off-screen, she faced her own personal battle with drink and drugs. The mother-of-one to son William, also suffered three strokes and was later diagnosed with cancer. 

After leaving the show in 1989, Ratcliff (seen in 1979) slipped into heroin addiction before later retraining as a counsellor

After leaving the show in 1989, Ratcliff (seen in 1979) slipped into heroin addiction before later retraining as a counsellor

After leaving the show in 1989, Ratcliff (seen in 1979) slipped into heroin addiction before later retraining as a counsellor 

5. Oscar James (Played Tony Carpenter from 1985 to 1987)

Then and now: Oscar James, who played Tony Carpenter, was an odd-job man who became Angie's lover but left the soap after two years

Then and now: Oscar James, who played Tony Carpenter, was an odd-job man who became Angie's lover but left the soap after two years

Then and now: Oscar James, who played Tony Carpenter, was an odd-job man who became Angie’s lover but left the soap after two years

Oscar portrayed Tony – an easy-going builder with a nagging wife.

While he was working at the Vic as an odd-job man, Tony became Angie’s lover: he thought it was a serious relationship, but she was only using him to get back at Den. 

Career: Oscar, now 80, went on to perform in a wide range of TV shows, The Bill, Holby City, Casualty and Doctors (pictured on Doctors with Mona Hammond)

Career: Oscar, now 80, went on to perform in a wide range of TV shows, The Bill, Holby City, Casualty and Doctors (pictured on Doctors with Mona Hammond)

Career: Oscar, now 80, went on to perform in a wide range of TV shows, The Bill, Holby City, Casualty and Doctors (pictured on Doctors with Mona Hammond)

After two years, including a stint as a minicab driver, Tony left to live in Trinidad. 

Oscar, now 80, went on to perform in a wide range of TV shows, The Bill, Holby City, Casualty and Doctors.

He also had a small part in the the 2005 Tim Burton adaptation of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.

6. Nejdet Salih (Played Ali Osman from 1985 to 1988) 

Family: Born a Cypriot Turk, Ali was married to Sue and ran the Bridge Street Cafe with her

Family: Born a Cypriot Turk, Ali was married to Sue and ran the Bridge Street Cafe with her

Other roles: The 63-year-old actor changed his name to Nej Adamson, and appeared in the final Carry On film in 1992, as well as playing a brigand in two Pirates Of The Caribbean movies

Other roles: The 63-year-old actor changed his name to Nej Adamson, and appeared in the final Carry On film in 1992, as well as playing a brigand in two Pirates Of The Caribbean movies

Family: Born a Cypriot Turk, Ali was married to Sue and ran the Bridge Street Cafe with her

Born a Cypriot Turk, Ali was married to Sue and ran the Bridge Street Cafe with her. 

He was a gambling addict and held nightly poker schools in the cafe after closing. 

Ali left Walford in 1989, after losing all his money at cards. 

The 63-year-old actor changed his name to Nej Adamson, and appeared in the final Carry On film in 1992, as well as playing a brigand in two Pirates Of The Caribbean movies

7. John Altman (Played ‘Nasty’ Nick Cotton from 1985 to 1991, 1993, 1998, 2000 to 2001, 2008 to 2009 and from 2014 to 2015)

Bad boy: Nick Cotton, played by John Altman, set the tone in the very first episode of EastEnders when he murdered the Square’s oldest resident for drug money

Bad boy: Nick Cotton, played by John Altman, set the tone in the very first episode of EastEnders when he murdered the Square’s oldest resident for drug money

Ator: Written in at the last minute, Nick was never intended to be a lasting character, but after his his sixth stint on the show he was killed off in the the 30th anniversary episode in 2015 (pictured in 2022)

Ator: Written in at the last minute, Nick was never intended to be a lasting character, but after his his sixth stint on the show he was killed off in the the 30th anniversary episode in 2015 (pictured in 2022)

Bad boy: Nick Cotton, played by John Altman, set the tone in the very first episode of EastEnders when he murdered the Square’s oldest resident for drug money

Heroin addict, racist, conman, killer and thief, Nasty Nick set the tone in the very first episode of EastEnders when he murdered the Square’s oldest resident for drug money. He killed again and very nearly poisoned his ‘dear old ma’, Dot. 

Written in at the last minute, Nick was never intended to be a lasting character, but after his his sixth stint on the show he was killed off in the the 30th anniversary episode in 2015. 

'Ello Ma: Nick was known for his turbulent relationship with his long-suffering mother Dot

'Ello Ma: Nick was known for his turbulent relationship with his long-suffering mother Dot

‘Ello Ma: Nick was known for his turbulent relationship with his long-suffering mother Dot

In real life, Altman, 70, struggled with a drink problem in the Nineties. He published his autobiography in the Nick of Time in 2016, and has taken part in charity fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Society as well as being an avid supporter of wildlife charities. 

Outside of EastEnders, the actor has appeared in adult panto, starred in Daz adverts, has appeared on Celebrity Coach Trip and BBC travel documentary series The Real Marigold Hotel.

8. Tom Watt (Played George ‘Lofty’ Holloway from 1985 to 1988)

Also making a return was Tom Watt, who portrayed George 'Lofty' Holloway

Also making a return was Tom Watt, who portrayed George 'Lofty' Holloway

Vintage: The actor played Lofty on the soap from 1985 to 1988

Vintage: The actor played Lofty on the soap from 1985 to 1988

Dapper: Tom Watt (left), who portrayed George ‘Lofty’ Holloway from 1985 to 1988, recently reunited with his co-stars to film moving scenes for Dot Cotton’s funeral

Tom Watt made a return to Abert Square last month to film scenes for Dot Cotton’s funeral.

The actor, 66, who was one of 26 actors to appear in EastEnders’ original cast, earning his nickname Lofty due to his above-average height, but he left Albert Square three years later after learning his wife Michelle Fowler had secretly aborted their unborn baby.

Since then, Tom has regularly presented sports sports segments for Channel 4, Radio 1, Radio 3, Radio 5 Live, talkSPORT, and Cable TV, and has also fronted several programmes for BT Sport.

Vintage: Since then, Tom (pictured in 2019) has presented sports radio segments, and even ghost-wrote David Beckham's autobiography My Side

Vintage: Since then, Tom (pictured in 2019) has presented sports radio segments, and even ghost-wrote David Beckham's autobiography My Side

Vintage: Since then, Tom (pictured in 2019) has presented sports radio segments, and even ghost-wrote David Beckham’s autobiography My Side

Alongside several other TV acting roles, Tom has penned match reports and features for The Observer and also acted as a ghost writer for David Beckham’s autobiography My Side.

In 2019 Tom also briefly reprised his role as Lofty, returning to Albert Square for the funeral of beloved character Dr Legg.

9. Peter Dean (Played Pete Beale from 1985 to 1993)

Then and now: Fruit and veg trader Pete Beale, played by Peter Dean, was killed off in 1993

Then and now: Fruit and veg trader Pete Beale, played by Peter Dean, was killed off in 1993

Real life: Peter pictured at the funeral of EastEnders legend Leonard Fenton - who played Dr Harold Legg

Real life: Peter pictured at the funeral of EastEnders legend Leonard Fenton - who played Dr Harold Legg

Then and now: Fruit and veg trader Pete Beale, played by Peter Dean, was killed off in 1993

The affable fruit and veg trader was Pauline’s twin, and a childhood mate of Dirty Den. 

In real life, Peter Dean’s family ran a stall in Petticoat Lane, and he attracted customers by bellowing out quotes from Shakespeare. Actress Prunella Scales heard him, and urged him to go to drama college. 

Pete Beale was killed off in a car crash in 1993. 

Star: Since leaving EastEnders, Peter has appeared in the likes of Soldiers of Love, Cradle to Grace and Bo' Selecta! (pictured in EastEnders alongside Pam St Clement)

Star: Since leaving EastEnders, Peter has appeared in the likes of Soldiers of Love, Cradle to Grace and Bo' Selecta! (pictured in EastEnders alongside Pam St Clement)

Star: Since leaving EastEnders, Peter has appeared in the likes of Soldiers of Love, Cradle to Grace and Bo’ Selecta! (pictured in EastEnders alongside Pam St Clement)

Since leaving EastEnders, Peter has appeared in the likes of Soldiers of Love, Cradle to Grace and Bo’ Selecta!  

After converting to Buddhism, Peter swore off alcohol. Aged 83, he enjoys racing greyhounds and is still an actor.

He suffered a falling out with his close pal Leslie Grantham on set and the pair were estranged for 25 years. 

He since revealed his heartbreak over Leslie’s death, saying he’d tried to reach out to him to end the feud shortly before his death but the letter was sent to the wrong address and his friend passed away before he could make amends.  

10. Gillian Taylforth (Played Kathy Beale from 1985 to 2000 and from 2015 onwards)

Stalwart: One of the show's original and best-loved characters, Kathy appeared in the soap as a barmaid and best friend of Angie in the Queen Vic

Stalwart: One of the show's original and best-loved characters, Kathy appeared in the soap as a barmaid and best friend of Angie in the Queen Vic

Glam: During the early years of EastEnders, Gillian dated her co-star Nick Berry, who played her stepson

Glam: During the early years of EastEnders, Gillian dated her co-star Nick Berry, who played her stepson

Stalwart: One of the show’s original and best-loved characters, Kathy appeared in the soap as a barmaid and best friend of Angie in the Queen Vic

One of the show’s original and best-loved characters, Kathy appeared in the soap as a barmaid and best friend of Angie in the Queen Vic. 

During the early years of EastEnders, Gillian dated her co-star Nick Berry, who played her stepson. Her character, Kathy, was raped early in the show’s history, sparking a major TV controversy. 

Taylforth left the show in 1998, but returned three times. She acted in the soap Hollyoaks but returned to Albert Square for good in August 2015, with her character stunning audiences as she was presumed dead for years. 

Back for good? Gillian left the show in 1998, but returned three times. She acted in the soap Hollyoaks but returned to Albert Square for good in August 2015

Back for good? Gillian left the show in 1998, but returned three times. She acted in the soap Hollyoaks but returned to Albert Square for good in August 2015

Back for good? Gillian left the show in 1998, but returned three times. She acted in the soap Hollyoaks but returned to Albert Square for good in August 2015

Copper: Other TV roles saw her portray Jackie Pascoe in Footballers' Wives between 2002 and 2006 and Sgt. Nikki Wright in The Bill for two years from 2006 to 2008 (pictured)

Copper: Other TV roles saw her portray Jackie Pascoe in Footballers' Wives between 2002 and 2006 and Sgt. Nikki Wright in The Bill for two years from 2006 to 2008 (pictured)

Copper: Other TV roles saw her portray Jackie Pascoe in Footballers’ Wives between 2002 and 2006 and Sgt. Nikki Wright in The Bill for two years from 2006 to 2008 (pictured)

Other TV roles saw her portray Jackie Pascoe in Footballers’ Wives between 2002 and 2006 and Sgt. Nikki Wright in The Bill for two years from 2006 to 2008. 

Off screen, she experienced turbulence in her personal life and was handed a two-year driving ban in 2015 after being caught behind the wheel while almost three times the drink driving limit.

It was the second time that Gillian, now 67, was caught drink driving. She was found over the limit back in 1995, while daughter Jessica, then aged three, was in the car.

11. Wendy Richard (Played Pauline Fowler from 1985 to 2006)

Wendy spent 21 years in Albert Square as Pauline before her on-screen death in 2006, when she was one of just two original cast members still on the show.

Fierce: Matriarch of the Fowler family Pauline was part of the original line-up and was the beloved wife of Arthur, played by the late Bill Treacher

Fierce: Matriarch of the Fowler family Pauline was part of the original line-up and was the beloved wife of Arthur, played by the late Bill Treacher

Actress: Wendy became a regular face on the small screen after becoming familiar to TV audiences playing Joyce Harker, a regular in the BBC's 1960s soap The Newcomers (pictured in 2206)

Actress: Wendy became a regular face on the small screen after becoming familiar to TV audiences playing Joyce Harker, a regular in the BBC's 1960s soap The Newcomers (pictured in 2206)

Fierce: Matriarch of the Fowler family Pauline was part of the original line-up and was the beloved wife of Arthur, played by the late Bill Treacher

Her first TV appearance was in 1960 with Sammy Davis Junior in Sammy Meets The Girls, but her first real break came in 1962 when she duetted with Mike Sarne on a pop song called Come Outside, which spent 19 weeks at No 1 as an unexpected hit.

She then became a regular face on the small screen after becoming familiar to TV audiences playing Joyce Harker, a regular in the BBC’s 1960s soap The Newcomers. She also had roles in Dad’s Army, Up Pompeii! and The Likely Lads. 

Wendy also appeared in Carry On films, alongside Barbara Windsor, who also went on to become an EastEnders star. 

Long run: She spent 21 years in Albert Square until 2006, when she was one of just two original cast members still with the show. She is pictured with Bill, David and Susan in 1985

Long run: She spent 21 years in Albert Square until 2006, when she was one of just two original cast members still with the show. She is pictured with Bill, David and Susan in 1985

Long run: She spent 21 years in Albert Square until 2006, when she was one of just two original cast members still with the show. She is pictured with Bill, David and Susan in 1985

Famed: It was Are You Being Served? that transformed her into a household name. The show began in 1972 and, with the dazzling Mrs Slocombe and John Inman's camp 'Menswear!' assistant, soon became a hit (Wendy pictured with Mollie Sugden as Mrs Slocombe)

Famed: It was Are You Being Served? that transformed her into a household name. The show began in 1972 and, with the dazzling Mrs Slocombe and John Inman's camp 'Menswear!' assistant, soon became a hit (Wendy pictured with Mollie Sugden as Mrs Slocombe)

Famed: It was Are You Being Served? that transformed her into a household name. The show began in 1972 and, with the dazzling Mrs Slocombe and John Inman’s camp ‘Menswear!’ assistant, soon became a hit (Wendy pictured with Mollie Sugden as Mrs Slocombe)

But it was Are You Being Served? that transformed her into a household name. The show began in 1972 and, with the dazzling Mrs Slocombe and John Inman’s camp ‘Menswear!’ assistant, soon became a hit.

After departing from EastEnders, Wendy was awarded the MBE for services to television in 2000 and in 2007 she was awarded a British Soap Award for Lifetime Achievement for her role in EastEnders. 

But in 2009, Wendy sadly died at the age of 65 after a lengthy battle with cancer, with more than 100 EastEnders cast members attending her funeral. 

Devastating: In 2009, Wendy sadly died at the age of 65 after a lengthy battle with cancer, with more than 100 EastEnders cast members attending her funeral

Devastating: In 2009, Wendy sadly died at the age of 65 after a lengthy battle with cancer, with more than 100 EastEnders cast members attending her funeral

Devastating: In 2009, Wendy sadly died at the age of 65 after a lengthy battle with cancer, with more than 100 EastEnders cast members attending her funeral

She had fought to overcome cancer twice previously, first in the mid-1990s and then in 2002, but an aggressive form of the disease returned in 2008 and she later revealed it was terminal.

While battling the illness she married her long-term partner Mr Burns, her fourth husband, at a star-studded ceremony in London’s Mayfair. 

13. Gretchen Franklin (Played Ethel Skinner from 1985 to 1988) 

Legend: Gretchen Franklin in 1987 with Willy the pug

Legend: Gretchen Franklin in 1987 with Willy the pug

TV star: Pictured in 2005 shortly before her death

TV star: Pictured in 2005 shortly before her death

Legend: Gretchen Franklin in 1987 with Willy the pug (left) from Eastenders and pictured in 2005 shortly before her death (right)

Born in 1911 into a showbusiness family, Gretchen was a dancer in Soho in the Twenties, a member of the tap troupe Four Brilliant Blondes and was also in Crossroads. 

As Ethel, she was the crony of Lou Beale and Dot Cotton, always to be found with a sherry and ‘my little Willy’, her beloved pug. 

She left EastEnders in 2000 and died in 2005, aged 94. 

So sad: Her exit was one of the biggest and moving storylines in the soap's history, with the plot seeing Ethel's best friend Dot euthanize her at her request

So sad: Her exit was one of the biggest and moving storylines in the soap's history, with the plot seeing Ethel's best friend Dot euthanize her at her request

So sad: Her exit was one of the biggest and moving storylines in the soap’s history, with the plot seeing Ethel’s best friend Dot euthanize her at her request

Her exit was one of the biggest and moving storylines in the soap’s history, with the plot seeing Ethel’s best friend Dot euthanize her at her request.

With Ethel wanting Dot to help her pass away after she became ill, the storyline saw devout Christian Dot battling with the decision as it went against her moral and religious beliefs. The character eventually decided to help her friend, with Ethel’s death one of the saddest ever. 

14. Anna Wing (Played Lou Beale from 1985 to 1988)

Then and now: Anna Wing, who played Lou Beale, was one of the show's best-loved characters. She left the show in 1988, but kept working right up to her death, aged 98, in 2013

Then and now: Anna Wing, who played Lou Beale, was one of the show's best-loved characters. She left the show in 1988, but kept working right up to her death, aged 98, in 2013

Moving on: She left the show in 1988, but kept working right up to her death, aged 98, in 2013

Moving on: She left the show in 1988, but kept working right up to her death, aged 98, in 2013

Then and now: Anna Wing, who played Lou Beale, was one of the show’s best-loved characters. She left the show in 1988, but kept working right up to her death, aged 98, in 2013

Lou was the most formidable character of the original cast, Pauline and Pete’s mother, and a no-nonsense Londoner. 

Anna, who was 70 when the show began, was also a mighty personality: in the Fifties she had been the lover of poet Philip O’Connor, with whom she had a son. She left the show in 1988, but kept working right up to her death, aged 98, in 2013.

Success: In 2009, Anna was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her services to drama and charity

Success: In 2009, Anna was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her services to drama and charity

Success: In 2009, Anna was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her services to drama and charity

She had a varied career after leaving the soap, landing roles in Doctors, French and Saunders, The Bill, and Casualty, while she also leant her vocal talents to animated series Fungus the Bogeyman. 

In 2009, Anna was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)  for her services to drama and charity.

15. Susan Tully (Played Michelle Fowler from  1985 to 1995)

Original: Susan Tully, 54, appeared on the first ever episode of EastEnders as feisty Michelle, the daughter of Arthur and Pauline Fowler

Original: Susan Tully, 54, appeared on the first ever episode of EastEnders as feisty Michelle, the daughter of Arthur and Pauline Fowler

Departing: Susan played the infamous role for a decade until she bid farewell to the show in October 1995

Departing: Susan played the infamous role for a decade until she bid farewell to the show in October 1995

Original: Susan Tully, 54, appeared on the first ever episode of EastEnders as feisty Michelle, the daughter of Arthur and Pauline Fowler

Susan Tully, 55, appeared on the first ever episode of EastEnders as feisty Michelle, the daughter of Arthur and Pauline Fowler.

Susan played the infamous role for a decade until she bid farewell to the show in October 1995, with actress Jenna Russell taking over the role on the character’s return in 2016.

During her time as Michelle on the soap, the character was involved in a number of dramatic storylines, famously having two children from one-night stands – Vicki, who she had with Dirty Den, and then Mark Jr, who she had with Grant Mitchell.

Michelle was mentioned throughout the years but hadn’t been seen since she moved to America in 1995, until the character’s shocking return in 2016. 

Director:  Susan gave up acting and pursued a career as a producer and director, working behind the camera on Line of Duty, Stella, Too Close, Strike and Lark Rise to Candleford

Director:  Susan gave up acting and pursued a career as a producer and director, working behind the camera on Line of Duty, Stella, Too Close, Strike and Lark Rise to Candleford

Director:  Susan gave up acting and pursued a career as a producer and director, working behind the camera on Line of Duty, Stella, Too Close, Strike and Lark Rise to Candleford

She had soap bosses trying for nearly two decades to lure her back to the much-loved series but to no avail.

As well as her time on EastEnders, she played rebellious teenager Suzanne Ross in Grange Hill.

But Susan gave up acting and instead pursued a career as a producer and director, working behind the camera on Line of Duty, Stella, Too Close, Strike, Lark Rise to Candleford, The Bill and The A Word. 

Jenna, who took over her EastEnders role, was also nominated for a Tony Award for her performance as Sarah Brown in West End production Guys and Dolls. 

New face: Susan played the role for a decade until she bid farewell in October 1995, with actress Jenna Russell (pictured) taking over the role on the character's return in 2016

New face: Susan played the role for a decade until she bid farewell in October 1995, with actress Jenna Russell (pictured) taking over the role on the character's return in 2016

New face: Susan played the role for a decade until she bid farewell in October 1995, with actress Jenna Russell (pictured) taking over the role on the character’s return in 2016

Source: | Dailymail.co.uk

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