Birds Of A Feather’s Pauline Quirke was cropped out of a cast photo shared in November 2020 amid claims her 50-year friendship with Lesley Joseph and Linda Robson has ended.
The actress, 61, posed with her former co-stars for a press photo from a revived series in September 2015, but was noticeably edited out when the image was uploaded to Lesley’s Instagram account late last year.
Earlier this week, reports claimed Pauline is no longer on amicable terms with Linda, 62, after she was involved in a tense face-off with fellow TV star Lesley, 75, outside TV studio toilets.
Where is she? Birds Of A Feather’s Pauline Quirke was cropped out of a photo shared last November amid claims her 50-year friendship with Lesley Joseph and Linda Robson has ended
The image caption read: ‘CONFIRMED: Birds Of A Feather is returning this Christmas for a one-off episode starring Les Dennis as Dorian’s new fella.. but Pauline Quirke will NOT appear as she’s taking a step back from acting!’
On their damaged relationship, a source told The Sun: ‘It was a subtle slight on Lesley’s side — but then Pauline had snubbed them by refusing to return to the show and engage in communication.’
The publication alleged the bust-up could date back to 1997, when Pauline received a BAFTA nomination for her role in The Sculptress, and reportedly asked for a bigger salary for her Birds Of A Feather stint through her manager husband Steve Sheen.
The original: The actress, 61, featured in a press snap from a revived series in September 2015, but was noticeably edited out when the image was uploaded to Lesley’s Instagram account
Drama: Earlier this week, reports claimed Pauline is no longer on amicable terms with Linda, 62, after she was involved in a tense face-off with fellow TV star Lesley, 75, outside TV studios
Money issues: A source has alleged the bust-up could date back to 1997, when Pauline received a BAFTA nomination for The Sculptress (pictured R), and ‘asked for a bigger salary’
The insider added: ‘Steve was not especially popular on set. He asked for more money, which he felt was valid after her Bafta nomination, so the women started to drift apart.
‘The sense now is that they will never repair their friendship. Linda does not believe they will ever speak again.’
MailOnline has contacted representatives for Linda, Pauline and Lesley for further comment.
Earlier this month, Loose Women panellist Linda left Pauline out of a gushing Instagram post paying tribute to her ‘favourite girls.’
Following reports that the pair have fallen out following a huge row, the presenter posted a gallery of snaps featuring female friends and loved ones to mark ‘Galentine’s Day’ on February 14, with Pauline absent.
Her post included several snaps with her Loose Women co-stars, including an image with Nadia Sawalha from her emotional return to the show last year.
Ouch: Earlier this month, Loose Women panellist Linda left Pauline out of a gushing Instagram post paying tribute to her ‘favourite girls’
Cute: Among the images Linda shared were a snap of her daughters Lauren and Bobbie (left), as well as one with her beloved granddaughters Betsy and Lila
Close bond: One snap showed Linda sweetly embracing Nadia Sawalha, taken from her return to Loose Women following a break in January 2020
The post was captioned: ‘A few (but not all) of my favourite gals #Galentine.’
Several of Linda’s followers noted that Pauline was absent from the tribute, with one writing: ‘Can we see one of you and Pauline?’
Another added: ‘@lindarobson58 where’s Pauline Quirke?’ with a third writing: ‘The fact Pauline is missing is very disappointing. Friends should be able to conquer anything.
Poignant: The presenter also paid tribute to her sisters Tina and Debbie with one of the snaps
Observant: Several of her followers noted that Pauline was absent from the tribute and questioned why
‘The recent lockdown shows that friendship should mean something. 50 + years. That must count for something. My best friend is everything to me, and we make sure we never sleep on an argument. Fix it. Now. You will regret.’
Pauline’s friendship is believed to have ended after an argument with Lesley outside TV studio toilets.
According to a report, the women were ‘basically pulled apart’ by Teddington Studios’ crew members who were left ‘stunned’ over the alleged incident.
Face-off? According to a report, the women were ‘basically pulled apart’ by Teddington Studios’ crew members who were left ‘stunned’ over the alleged incident (pictured in 2012)
Pauline and Linda played sisters in the hit comedy, and as real-life childhood best friends appeared to be a perfect fit for the roles.
But the frequent on-screen bickering between their characters Sharon Theodopolopodous and Tracey Stubbs appears to have exploded into the actors’ real lives, prompting fears for the future of the long-running programme.
The Mail on Sunday first revealed that a seemingly irreparable rift has developed between Pauline and Linda, whose bond once helped cement their reputation as among the UK’s most popular double acts.
Insiders said there have been ‘real and tense issues’ which resulted in Pauline refusing to take part in the 30th anniversary show, which aired in 2019.
At the same time, Linda grew closer to co-star Lesley, who plays man-eating neighbour Dorien Green, and the pair decided not to ask Pauline to take part in 2020’s Christmas special.
The fall-out seemingly marks an end to Pauline’s much-loved character of Sharon, whose recent absences have been explained by the character heading off on a cruise.
One friend said: ‘Both Linda and Lesley were saddened that Pauline didn’t want to return to make a 30th anniversary episode. Linda and Pauline used to be very close, less so Pauline and Lesley.
‘I think Pauline resented the attention that Lesley got and it was very tense and difficult to navigate at times.
‘Pauline wasn’t approached about the Christmas special. The atmosphere on the set had previously become difficult, there were real and tense issues.’
The trio shot to fame in 1989 when Birds Of A Feather began on BBC1. Following the lives of two sisters who move in together after their husbands are jailed for armed robbery, it ran for nine years.
It was later revived in 2014 on ITV by its original writers and creators Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran.
Rise to fame: Linda and Pauline are pictured in 1993
The Christmas special pulled in an impressive 7.9 million viewers, and it is understood that Linda and Lesley are keen to continue with the Essex-set show. But sources say ITV are not convinced they want to make another series.
Claims of Pauline’s allegedly ‘demanding’ and ‘difficult’ behaviour on set were blamed as factors for the original fall out, and in a bid to secure the future of the show, a new character called Jordan – dubbed a ‘mini-me’ of Sharon – was introduced.
The friend added: ‘It appears that Sharon has been replaced by another character so that the show can go on. It is all very sad. Pauline and Linda have been friends for more than half a century and, of course, Lesley has known the women for at least 30 of those years.’
To complicate matters, Pauline’s son Charlie also stars on the show as Travis Stubbs, Tracey’s youngest son. He appeared in the Christmas special and at the time ITV tried to explain her absence.
A spokesperson said: ‘Unfortunately, Pauline Quirke will not be taking part as she’s stepping back from acting to focus on her 200 nationwide performing arts academies.’
In the show, only a photograph of Sharon was seen and the storyline was written to say that she was on a cruise, during which she had met a Costa Rican hunk and married him.
Irreparable: Earlier this month, The Mail on Sunday revealed that a seemingly irreparable rift has developed between Pauline and Linda (pictured in 1989)
Last year, Linda described her long friendship with Pauline, saying: ‘We were friends from ten years of age. We went to the same primary school and we started taking acting classes together.
‘We were known as the real kids, or the cockney kids off the street. We’ve both been really good friends, and we’re still working 52 years later.’
Linda and Lesley revealed in an interview with bingo company Mecca that they had met up during the pandemic when restrictions allowed, but there was no mention of Pauline.
The two women declined to comment at the time. Pauline Quirke’s spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.