EastEnders star Sandy Ratcliff, 70, died from an accidental overdose

Original EastEnders star Alexandra ‘Sandy’ Ratcliff died aged 70 after overdosing on morphine while suffering from two terminal lung conditions, an inquest heard today.

Ratcliff, who played the much-loved character Sue Osman in the soap before falling from the public eye, died at a care home in Stoke Newington, North London.

Appearing as Osman from the first episode of the BBC soap in 1985 until 1989, she took on a number of tough storylines including when she lost her baby to cot death syndrome before divorcing her husband, Ali, soon after.

Sandy Ratcliff, who played much-loved character Sue Osman in the soap, was discovered in a north London care home on Sunday morning. Image undated

 

Osman as played by Ratcliff at the beginning of EastEnders in 1985 alongside her on-screen husband, cafe owner Ali

 

Alexandra ‘Sandy’ Ratcliff (left, in an undated image), who played much-loved character Sue Osman in the soap, (right, with her husband Ali) was found dead in a North London care home

This prompted a years-long exploration of mental health on the popular show as Sue struggled with the grieving process, depression and the breakdown of her marriage.

But off screen, she struggled with heroin addiction for about 20 years, an inquest at Poplar Coroner’s Court in East London heard.

She died aged 70 in the bedroom of her sheltered housing accommodation at St Peter’s House in Stoke Newington on April 7.

The inquest heard that she had been discharged from hospital the day before and given morphine for pain relief.

Her cause of death was given as bronchopneumonia and morphine toxicity as a result of a malignant lung tumour and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The cast of EastEnders celebrating the show's 15th anniversary in 1985 outside the set of Albert Square. Ratcliff is seen on the far right

 

The cast of EastEnders celebrating the show’s 15th anniversary in 1985 outside the set of Albert Square. Ratcliff is seen on the far right

Her son, William Palmer, said his mother suffered three strokes in the years leading up to her death – the first taking place shortly after her partner died in 2013.

Giving evidence, he said the stroke had left her with pain in her left arm, for which she was prescribed codeine.

But the inquest heard that Ratcliff would take more than her prescribed amount for both pain management and ‘recreational use’.

At one point, she was taking 100 tablets per week, before it was reduced to eight, the inquest heard.

According to Mirror Online, Mr Palmer told Poplar Coroner’s Court that his mother ‘wasn’t enjoying life’ and had refused medical attention for lung cancer.

Sue Osman was at the centre of a bleak storyline when her baby died from cot death syndrome in June 1985. Afterwards, she and her on-screen husband Ali (together, in 1985) broke up

 

Sue Osman was at the centre of a bleak storyline when her baby died from cot death syndrome in June 1985. Afterwards, she and her on-screen husband Ali (together, in 1985) broke up

He said: ‘She stopped [taking illicit drugs] a good few years before her death. I hadn’t seen her for five or six years before 2013. Certainly in 2013 she was clean.

‘I only found out about her lung cancer in March but she had benign tumours for years, but she hadn’t kept up with appointments and refused to go to hospital.

‘I don’t think she was happy – she want well. I don’t think she was suicidal. She just wasn’t enjoying life.’

Her GP, Dr Helen Freeman, said: ‘The difficulty with chronic pain is that it is difficult to manage with opioids and she was taking these at higher levels.’

Dr Freeman said Ratcliff was aware she had a malignant tumour after being diagnosed in 2014.

Ratcliff died aged 70 in the bedroom of her sheltered housing accommodation at St Peter's House (file picture) in Stoke Newington, North London, on April 7

 

Ratcliff died aged 70 in the bedroom of her sheltered housing accommodation at St Peter’s House (file picture) in Stoke Newington, North London, on April 7

In October 2018, her condition started to worsen and by February 2019 she had started coughing up blood.

Giving evidence, Dr Freeman said Ratcliff was seen on numerous occasions by GPs in early 2019, but declined admission to hospital.

Dr Freeman said she visited Ratcliff on March 18 and told her ‘she could be dying and was fatally unwell’.

The inquest heard that Ratcliff was eventually convinced to go to hospital by her carer and was treated for a lung infection.

Dr Freeman said Ratcliff was discharged from hospital on April 6 and her codeine was switched to morphine.

Nejdet Salih, who played Ali, paid tribute to the mother of one (seen here as Sue on EastEnders in the 1980s)

 

'It's very sad. I remember the first time I auditioned for the show, we had this instant chemistry and banter,' he said

 

Nejdet Salih, who played Ali, paid tribute to Ratcliff (pictured as Sue Osman in the 1980s). He said he remembered the duo had ‘this instant chemistry and banter’ at his first audition

But the following morning, her carer went into her bedroom and found Ratcliff unresponsive.

Paramedics were called, but she was declared dead at 8.17am, the inquest heard.

Pathologist Alan Bates said the level of morphine found in her blood was within the therapeutic range.

But he added: ‘There is a danger as morphine is a respiratory depressant there is a greater danger of overdose when there is significant natural lung disease.’

Giving her conclusion, coroner Mary Hassell said Ratcliff was ‘near to the end’ when she was admitted to hospital.

She said: ‘I don’t think the morphine was used to end her life. She was using it as she had used drugs for many years.

‘She died from a combination of two naturally occurring terminal conditions and an excess of morphine.’

In 1988, it was reported that Ratcliff had an alcohol-fuelled bust-up with her boyfriend while holidaying in Tenerife before she was written out of the show because of a heroin addiction the following year.

The mother-of-one to her son William also suffered three strokes and was later diagnosed with cancer.

Following her death, Nejdet Salih, who played Ali in the soap, told The SunL ‘It’s very sad. I remember the first time I auditioned for the show, we had this instant chemistry and banter.

Ratcliff (second from left) with BBC controller Michael Grade and fellow members of the EastEnders cast, in an undated image

 

Ratcliff (second from left) with BBC controller Michael Grade and fellow members of the EastEnders cast, in an undated image

‘I remember going to her flat to rehearse lines and her son William and boyfriend Tony would be there. She was a great mum. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for William.

‘She would try to take younger actors under her wing and had a great sense of humour. At the end of the show, I think she had had enough, there was a lot of pressure on us back then. I think she just wanted to go.’

Following her death, a friend said she had been clean of drugs for some years but was forced to move into a care home due to poor health.

Ratcliff first became known as a model in the 1970s, when she was cast as ‘The face of the 70s’ by royal photographer Lord Snowdon.

Before starring in her best-known EastEnders role, Ratcliff featured in Crossroads as Barbara Parker, the younger wife of series regular Vince Parker.

She also appeared in BBC Two versions of A Box Of Swan and Men Of The Month.

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

 

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

Ratcliff married photographer Peter Wright in 1968, but the couple broke up and by 1973 she had her only son, William, by theatre director Terence Palmer.

One of her last public appearances was at the Old Bailey trial of her then boyfriend, Michael Shorey, who was found guilty of murdering two women in 1991.

She claimed they were together when he was accused of murdering the woman, but the jury rejected her account and Shorey was jailed for life.

Ratcliff then largely disappeared from the public eye and in 2005, it was reported that Ratcliff no longer used heroin and lived on a £70 a week disability allowance.

Speaking in 2010, Ratcliffe admitted she had a ‘hard time’ following her EastEnders exit. She said: ‘I had a hard time when I left the show. There were stories about my drug addiction, and I was quite an innocent, even in my thirties.

‘Some of the things written about me hurt me and made me quite ill. But I recovered and moved on to other things.’

Where are the members of the original EastEnders cast now?

Actor Leonard Fenton, 92, is returning to Albert Square at the age of 1982, but how many other members of the original cast can you name? 1. Wendy Richard (Pauline Fowler). 2: Anna Wing (Lou Beale). 3: Linda Davidson (Mary Smith). 4: Ross Davidson (Andy O'Brien). 5: Shirley Cheriton (Debbie Wilkins). 6: Bill Treacher (Arthur Fowler). 7. Susan Tully (Michelle Fowler). 8. Letita Dean (Sharon Watts). 9: Gretchen Franklin (Ethel Skinner). 10: Willy the pug. 11: Roly the poodle. 12: Leslie Grantham (Den Watts). 12. Anita Dobson (Angie Watts). 14: Tom Watt (Lofty Holloway). 15: Leonard Fenton (Dr Legg). 16: Andrew Johnson (Saeed Jeffrey). 17: John Altman (Nick Cotton). 18: June Brown (Dot Cotton). 19: Paul J. Medford (Kelvin Carpenter). 20. Oscar James (Tony Carpenter). 21: Sandy Ratcliff (Sue Osman). 22: Nejdet Salih (Ali Osman). 23: Gillian Taylforth (Kathy Beale). 24: Adam Woodyatt (Ian Beale). 25: Nick Berry (Simon Wicks). 26: Peter Dean (Pete Beale)

 

Actor Leonard Fenton, 92, is returning to Albert Square at the age of 1982, but how many other members of the original cast can you name? 1. Wendy Richard (Pauline Fowler). 2: Anna Wing (Lou Beale). 3: Linda Davidson (Mary Smith). 4: Ross Davidson (Andy O’Brien). 5: Shirley Cheriton (Debbie Wilkins). 6: Bill Treacher (Arthur Fowler). 7. Susan Tully (Michelle Fowler). 8. Letita Dean (Sharon Watts). 9: Gretchen Franklin (Ethel Skinner). 10: Willy the pug. 11: Roly the poodle. 12: Leslie Grantham (Den Watts). 12. Anita Dobson (Angie Watts). 14: Tom Watt (Lofty Holloway). 15: Leonard Fenton (Dr Legg). 16: Andrew Johnson (Saeed Jeffrey). 17: John Altman (Nick Cotton). 18: June Brown (Dot Cotton). 19: Paul J. Medford (Kelvin Carpenter). 20. Oscar James (Tony Carpenter). 21: Sandy Ratcliff (Sue Osman). 22: Nejdet Salih (Ali Osman). 23: Gillian Taylforth (Kathy Beale). 24: Adam Woodyatt (Ian Beale). 25: Nick Berry (Simon Wicks). 26: Peter Dean (Pete Beale)

1. Wendy Richard

Played: Pauline Fowler

Sitcom veteran Wendy Richard also appeared in Are You Being Served?, Dad’s Army and a couple of Carry On films. 

The favourite cheeky Cockney was actually born in Middlesbrough, in 1943. 

The matriarch of Albert Square, her 21 years on the show ended with an on-screen death in 2006. Wendy died from cancer in 2009, aged 65.

Wendy Richard (Pauline Fowler) pictured with her on-screen husband Arthur (Bill Treacher)

 

Wendy Richard

 

Wendy Richard (Pauline Fowler) pictured with her on-screen husband Arthur (Bill Treacher) in the first year of the soap in 1985 (left) and pictured in 2006 (right)

2. Anna Wing

Played: Lou Beale

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

Anna Wing, 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.

Then and now: Anna Wing, who played Lou Beale, was one of the show's best-loved characters.

 

Wing left the show in 1988, but kept working right up to her death, aged 98, in 2013

 

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

3. Linda Davidson

Played: Mary Smith

Mary Smith was one of the Square’s most controversial characters — a former punk rock groupie and drug user whose wild lifestyle put her baby’s life at risk.

Barely literate, she couldn’t to look after her child without her neighbours’ help, and earned her living by prostitution.

Actress Linda, who was born in Canada, dated co-star Nejdet Salih and left the show in 1988; now aged 55, she gave up acting to work in internet design and today runs a social media agency.

Then and now: Linda Davidson as punk rock groupie Mary Smith in 1986 (left) and today (right) running a social media agency

 

Then and now: Linda Davidson as punk rock groupie Mary Smith in 1986 (left) and today (right) running a social media agency

 

Linda Davidson as punk rock groupie Mary Smith in 1986 (left) and today (right, in 2015) running a social media agency

4. Ross Davidson

Played: Andy O’Brien

Ross was a PE teacher who played water polo for Scotland before acting. EastEnders was his first major part — he played the nurse who has an affair with the Vic landlady, Angie Watts. 

In his final scene, in August 1986, Andy rows with girlfriend Shirley: when she tells him to ‘drop dead’, he stomps out of the house and is flattened by a lorry . . . making him the first character to be killed off. 

Ross believed he was dropped because he was dating his co-star Shirley Cheriton. He died from cancer, aged 57, in 2006.

Then and now: Ross Davidson's character Andy O’Brien was the first character to be killed off

 

Ross Davison, who died from cancer, aged 57, in 2006

 

Ross Davidson’s character Andy O’Brien was the first character to be killed off. Ross believed he was dropped because he was dating his co-star Shirley Cheriton. He died from cancer, aged 57, in 2006

5. Shirley Cheriton

Played: Debbie Wilkins

Debbie was a professional middle-class woman whose East End property was an investment as well as a home. The working-class locals thought she was stuck-up and pretentious. 

Actress Shirley, who left EastEnders in 1987, was a favourite of series creator Julia Smith, who had also cast her in the hospital drama Angels. 

Now 63, she hasn’t appeared on TV since 2009, when she played Mrs. Spalden in Last Night A DJ Saved My Life. 

Actress Shirley Cheriton, who left EastEnders in 1987, with Ross Davison

 

Shirley Cheriton

 

Then and now: Actress Shirley Cheriton, who left EastEnders in 1987, left with Ross Davison, was a favourite of series creator Julia Smith

6. Bill Treacher

Played: Arthur Fowler

The gruelling pace of filming EastEnders left stage actor Bill exhausted. Arthur saw his daughter pregnant at 16, his son infected with HIV and himself having a breakdown. 

Bill left in 1996 and famously said ‘by the time I finished, even the theme music was making me feel ill’. He later appeared in films including George And the Dragon in 2004. 

Now 89, he is retired and admitted in 2015 that he’s suffering from the degenerative disease ataxia, which affects his balance and ability to walk. 

Then and now: Bill Treacher, playing Arthur Fowler, was one of the show's longest-serving stars

 

Bill Treacher was later in The Bill and is now retired from acting

 

Bill Treacher, playing Arthur Fowler, was one of the show’s longest-serving stars. He was later in The Bill and is now retired

7. Susan Tully

Played: Michelle Fowler

Susan, now 51, grew up on a North London council estate and started acting through a community theatre school. Before EastEnders, she was familiar to viewers from the children’s series Grange Hill. 

She played Michelle until 1995, and the character was credited with saving EastEnders — viewing figures had slumped to seven million before the storyline of her secret pregnancy, aged 16, hooked the nation.

Her friendship with Letitia Dean, who played her best pal Sharon Watts, endured off screen and Susan was a bridesmaid at her wedding in 2002.   

Susan is now a TV director, whose credits include Lark Rise To Candleford, The Bill, Silent Witness and the historical fantasy Britannia.

Starring role: Susan rose to fame in EastEnders as Michelle Fowler, joining the hit BBC One soap in 1985 and leaving ten years later in 1995

 

Susan Tully is a director, whose credits include Lark Rise To Candleford

 

Susan Tully, who started her career on Grange Hill, starred as Michelle Fowler untill 1996. She is now a director, whose credits include Lark Rise To Candleford

8. Letitia Dean

Played: Sharon Watts

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. 

The 50-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. 

Leitia Dean as Sharon with onscreen husband Grant (Ross Kemp) in 1994

 

Leitia Dean

 

Leitia Dean as Sharon with onscreen husband Grant (Ross Kemp) in 1994 (left)

9. Gretchen Franklin

Played: Ethel Skinner

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.

Gretchen Franklin in 1987 with Willy the pug

 

In 2005 shortly before her death

 

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

10. Willy the pug

Willy was spoilt, greedy and mischievous. The other characters couldn’t stand him: the local doctor complained bitterly about the mess Willy made on the pavements, and owner Ethel had to decline two marriage proposals when her suitors asked her to get rid of her precious pet. Willy was put down in 1992; two weeks later, the dog who had played him also died.

11. Roly the 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. Roly was nearly killed when Grant Mitchell set fire to the Vic for the insurance money, and died on screen when he was run over while chasing a cat in 1993. Roly’s real-life owner was EastEnders creator Julia Smith. He died in real life in 1995.

Willy was put down in 1992; two weeks later, the dog who had played him also died. Roly died on screen when he was run over while chasing a cat in 1993. Roly's real-life owner was EastEnders creator Julia Smith. He died in real life in 1995

 

Willy was put down in 1992; two weeks later, the dog who had played him also died. Roly died on screen when he was run over while chasing a cat in 1993. Roly’s real-life owner was EastEnders creator Julia Smith. He died in real life in 1995

12. Leslie Grantham

Played: Dirty Den Watts

Dirty Den was the original villain of Albert Square, a bully who shoved his wife around and got his 16-year-old daughter’s best mate pregnant. 

TV had never had such a hated character — and the actor who played him, Grantham, actually murdered a taxi driver in a 1966 robbery. During his ten-year prison sentence, he took up acting. 

His character Den was seemingly killed in 1989, but he returned from the dead in 2003. The renaissance didn’t last long: Grantham, who is now 67, was caught in a sex scandal in 2004, in which he was caught exposing himself to an undercover reporter via a webcam from his dressing room.

Dirty Den was killed off for a second time shortly afterwards. 

In June 2018, the TV star, who had recently returned to the UK after living for some time in Bulgaria, passed away aged 71, after battling cancer. 

Then and now: Controversial character Dirty Den Watts (played by Leslie Grantham) with on-screen wife Angie (Anita Dobson) (left) and a brooding Den in 2004 (right)

 

Grantham on ITV's This Morning in 201

 

Then and now: Controversial character Dirty Den Watts (played by Leslie Grantham) with on-screen wife Angie (Anita Dobson) (left) and on ITV’s This Morning in 2016 (right)

13. Anita Dobson

Played: Angie Watts

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. 

Anita, 69, has enjoyed a successful and varied career since quitting the soap. She took part in Strictly 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. 

Anita Dobson was in the the soap for three years but was involved in many of its most memorable storylines

 

Married to Brian May, she is still acting and has appeared in the West End musical Wicked

 

Anita Dobson was in the the soap for three years but was involved in many of its most memorable storylines. Married to Brian May, she is still acting and has appeared in the West End musical Wicked

14. Tom Watt

Played: Lofty Holloway

Lofty, the Vic’s barman, was hopelessly in love with Michelle, and married her after she became a single mum . . . though she dumped him at the altar during the first ceremony. 

Watt left the show in 1988 to become a social worker. Now 58, he is a radio sports reporter and the ghostwriter of David Beckham’s autobiography.

Tom Watt as Lofty in the soap with Susan Tully who played Michelle Fowler

 

Tom, who is now a radio sports presenter, attending a film premiere in London in 2017

 

Tom Watt as Lofty in the soap with Susan Tully who played Michelle Fowler (left). Tom, who is now a radio sports presenter, attending a film premiere in London in 2017 (right)

15. Leonard Fenton

Played: Dr Harold Legg

This East End grammar school boy, the son of Jewish refugees from the Baltic states, was an Army engineer in World War II. During a 50-year career in acting, he appeared in Z-Cars, Colditz and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. For 12 years, Fenton was Albert Square’s caring but irascible doctor who was good friends with Dot Cotton.  

In 2004, Leonard made his debut as a theatre director. His character has returned to EastEnders three times over the years but he was killed off in February. 

Gushing over his surprising return in 2018, the star said: ‘I am very happy to be back at EastEnders and am looking forward to working with June and the rest of the cast and crew again.’ 

He is now 93 years old. 

Fenton as Dr Harold Legg in 2000

 

In 2018 he returned to the set to film new scenes at the age of 92

 

East End grammar school boy Leonard Fenton played Dr Harold Legg, who treated the main characters. In 2018 he returned to the set to film new scenes at the age of 92

Andrew Johnson played convenience store owner Saeed Jeffrey

 

Andrew Johnson played convenience store owner Saeed Jeffrey

16. Andrew Johnson

Played: Saeed Jeffery

Saeed owned a convenience store called First Til Last and was unhappily married to Naima (Shreela Ghosh), who refused to sleep with him. 

He started using prostitutes and making obscene phone calls to women. When he was found out, Saeed left the Square in shame in December 1985. 

Like his character, Andrew is from a mixed-race background, and reportedly was unhappy at the negative storylines foisted on Saeed. 

He moved to Hollywood and still works as an actor, in minor parts.

17. John Altman

Played: Nasty Nick Cotton

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. 

In real life, Altman, 67, 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. 

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

 

Altman in 2008

 

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

18. June Brown

Played: Dot Cotton

Bafta-nominated for her work as kind-hearted busybody Dot, 92-year-old June Brown’s career started at the Old Vic theatre school. 

She became the oldest dancer to take part in Strictly, in 2010, and appeared in West End hit Calendar Girls. 

The mother of six is the only EastEnders actress to have an entire episode to herself: in 2008 she performed a half-hour monologue, talking about her life as she recorded a tape for her husband, Jim Branning, who had suffered a stroke. That same year she was awarded an MBE. 

Dot Branning (nee Colwell, previously Cotton) is still a Walford stalwart. She’s lived alone in Surrey since her second husband Robert died in 2003. 

Bafta-nominated for her work as kind-hearted busybody Dot

 

92-year-old June Brown is one of the original cast members and has been at the heart of the show since 1985

 

Bafta-nominated for her work as kind-hearted busybody Dot, 87-year-old June Brown is one of the original cast members and has been at the heart of the show since 1985

19. Paul J. Medford

Played: Kelvin Carpenter

Kelvin was the entrepreneur of Albert Square, who fell for an older woman and was humiliated when she publicly dumped him.

With Sharon and a group of friends, he set up a band, the Banned, but after some embarrassing gigs, Kelvin was forced to admit they were rubbish

But in real life their song Something Outa Nothing, credited to Letitia Dean and Paul Medford, reached No 12 in the UK charts. Kelvin left Walford in 1987 to do a degree in computer studies.

The actor is a West End veteran and has starred in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Five Guys Named Moe, for which he received an Olivier Award nomination. He also co-owns a talent and modelling agency. 

Paul Medford played Kelvin Carpenter in the soap, and launched a pop career with co-star Letitia Dean

 

He became a West End veteran and has starred in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

 

Then and now: Paul Medford played Kelvin Carpenter in the soap, and launched a pop career with co-star Letitia Dean. He became a West End veteran and has starred in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

20. Oscar James

Played: Tony Carpenter

Tony was Kelvin’s father, 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. 

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

Oscar, now 77, went on to perform in a wide range of TV shows, The Bill, Holby City and Casualty and had a small part in the the 2005 Tim Burton adaptation of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. 

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

 

The 75-year-old appeared on a wide range of TV shows, including The Bill and Casualty

 

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. The 75-year-old appeared on a wide range of TV shows, including The Bill and Casualty

Sue Osman played Sandy Ratcliff at the beginning of the show in 1985, but went on to battle heroin addiction

 

Sue Osman played Sandy Ratcliff at the beginning of the show in 1985, but went on to battle heroin addiction

21. Sandy Ratcliff

Played: Sue Osman

Sandy Ratcliff played the much loved Sue Osman in the popular BBC1 soap from the first episode it aired in 1985 until 1989.

In her role she took on a number of tough storylines including when she lost her baby to cot death syndrome in 1985.

After leaving the show in 1989, actress Sandy, 64, slipped into heroin addiction; she later retrained as a counsellor. 

One of her last public appearances was at the Old Bailey trial of her then boyfriend, Michael Shorey, who was found guilty of murdering two women in 1991.

She was found dead in a care home in north London on Sunday morning.  

22. Nejdet Salih

(Ali Osman)

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

The 60-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.

Ali Osman, played by Nejdet Salih, was Albert Square's gambling addict who left after losing all his money in a card game

 

Nejdet Salih has built a successful film career

 

Then and now: Ali Osman, played by Nejdet Salih, was Albert Square’s gambling addict who left after losing all his money in a card game. Mr Salih went on to build a successful film career

23. Gillian Taylforth

Played: Kathy Beale

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.

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 64, was caught drink driving. She was found over the limit back in 1995, while daughter Jessica, then aged three, was in the car.

A year before that, the actress lost a high-profile libel case against The Sun, after the newspaper ran a story claiming she had performed oral sex on her then boyfriend Geoff Knights on an A1 slip road while in their Range Rover.

She claimed she was massaging his stomach to soothe his abdominal pain, but a police officer said she had been engaging in a sex act.

Gillian Taylforth in the role of Kathy with Peter Dean who played her on-screen husband when the show began in 1985

 

Gillian Taylforth attends the British Soap Awards at The Lowry Theatre on June 1

 

Gillian Taylforth in the role of Kathy with Peter Dean who played her on-screen husband when the show began in 1985. The actress, pictured at the British Soap Awards in June this year (right), returned to the soap in 2015, after a stint on Hollyoaks

24. Adam Woodyatt

Played: Ian Beale

The only member of the cast who has appeared on the show without a break for more than 30 years. Ian has been married five times, and is currently engaged to Jane, one of his ex-wives. 

One of his biggest storylines saw him shot by a hitman hired by another wife, Cindy. In 2012, Ian had a breakdown and ended up living at a homeless hostel. 

Adam, 51, won the Lifetime Achievement trophy at the British Soap Awards in 2013, after nearly 3,000 appearances on the show.

An accomplished photographer, he previously won the Architectural Photographer of the Year Award and has appeared in panto alongside his EastEnders role. 

Then and now: A very youthful looking Adam Woodyatt as Ian Beale in 1989 with Cindy (Michelle Collins) left and at the British Comedy Awards 2014 (right)

 

Wooyyatt on ITV's This Morning last December

 

Then and now: A very youthful looking Adam Woodyatt as Ian Beale in 1989 with Cindy (Michelle Collins) left and on ITV’s This Morning last December (right)

25. Nick Berry

Played: Simon Wicks

Nick wasn’t in the first few episodes, but was drafted in after another actor left unexpectedly, having refused to play a scene where his character used racist language. 

Nick’s character, Wicksy, proved almost too popular — he was an instant pin-up and in 1986 Nick enjoyed a No 1 with his song Every Loser Wins. 

After five years on EastEnders, Nick, 56, went on to star in nostalgic police series Heartbeat, and now runs a production firm called Valentine.

Nick Berry joined the show early on as SImon Wicks

 

Nick Berry now runs a production company

 

Then and now: Nick Berry joined the show early on as SImon Wicks and it launched him to superstardom. He had a successful pop career, was the main character on Heartbeat and now runs a production company

26. Peter Dean

Played: Pete Beale

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. 

After converting to Buddhism, Peter swore off alcohol. Aged 80, 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 revealed his heartbreak over Leslie’s death, saying he had 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.  

Fruit and veg trader Pete Beale

 

Peter pictured appearing in the quiz show Soapstar Superbrain in 2012

 

Then and now: Fruit and veg trader Pete Beale, played by Peter Dean, was killed off in 1993. Right: pictured appearing in the quiz show Soapstar Superbrain in 2012

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