Anna Karen: On The Buses and EastEnders actress dies in east London house fire | Ents & Arts News

EastEnders and On The Buses star Anna Karen has died in a house fire in east London.

Firefighters were called to Windsor Road, Ilford, shortly after 10.30pm on Tuesday night.

A statement from the London Fire Brigade said: “Part of the ground floor of a mid-terrace house was damaged by fire. Sadly a woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

Anna Karen, who played Olive in sitcom On the Buses, attends the funeral of actor Stephen Lewis at Our Lady of Lourdes church in Wanstead, east London.
The 85-year-old died in a house fire in Ilford

“Three fire engines and around 20 firefighters from Ilford and Barking fire stations attended the incident.

“The cause of the fire is under investigation.”

The 85-year-old was best known for her role in 70s comedy On The Buses.

Karen’s agent Shane Collins told the PA news agency: “It is a terrible tragedy. I loved Anna. I’ve known her since I was a kid and she’s been the most wonderful lady.

“I’ve been privileged to look after her as her agent for the last few years.”

She also appeared in EastEnders as Aunt Sal, sister of Peggy Mitchell, played by one of her great friends Barbara Windsor.

On The Buses, Anna Karen, Doris Hare, Reg Varney, Michael Robbins
On The Buses stars Anna Karen, Doris Hare, Reg Varney, Michael Robbins (L-R)

An EastEnders spokesperson said: “We are deeply saddened to hear that Anna Karen has passed away… Our love and thoughts are with Anna’s family and friends.”

Scott Mitchell, husband of the late Dame Barbara said he is “desperately sad and shocked” to hear about Karen’s death.

He said: “Barbara and Anna were lifelong friends and Anna was always what I considered to be Barbara’s only real girlfriend.

“Anna and I had kept in regular contact since Barbara’s passing and she was a good friend and support to me when things were tough and we spoke a couple of weeks ago.

“It was a fun chat and I thought how upbeat she sounded. We always shared memories and jokes about Barbara.

“Anna was one of three I asked to speak at Barbara’s funeral. I will remember her straight talking, great humour and intelligence. May she rest in peace.”

Anna Karen and Barbara Windsor

9 May 2009
Karen starred alongside Barbara Windsor in EastEnders

Singer Cheryl Baker tweeted: “I have just heard the awful news that my fabulous mate, #AnnaKaren has died in a house fire.

“What an horrific way to die, I can’t bear to think about it. I adored her – She was an absolute treasure, both on and off the screen.”

EastEnders star Rita Simons, who played Roxy Mitchell, added: “I just heard the awful news about the wonderful Anna Karen. Horrific and awful and so so sad.

“She was one of the best. Sleep well lovely Anna. Sending all my love to her family and friends.”

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