EastEnders and On The Buses star Anna Karen dies after devastating house fire

The star played Aunt Sal

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

The 85-year-old actress, known for playing Aunt Sal in EastEnders, was killed on Tuesday February 23.

The Mail Online reports a fire crew was called to the site shortly after 10.30pm last night.

They were able to bring the ground floor blaze under control, but sadly Anna had already lost her life.

Anna Karen smiles in red
Anna Karen has died aged 84 (Credit: James Curley/Shutterstock)

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Friends confirm Anna Karen has died

The tragedy was confirmed to the Mail by a family friend, who said: “We are absolutely horrified at the news about Anna.”

Neighbours told The Sun they raised the alarm after seeing smoke coming from her front door.

One told the publication: “I knew her from EastEnders, it was like having a celebrity living in the street, she was a lovely old lady and always spoke to everyone.”

London Fire Brigade are looking into the cause of the fire, but it’s not thought to be suspicious at this stage.

They confirmed to The Mirror: “Sadly, a woman has died following a house fire on Windsor Road in Ilford.

“Part of the ground floor of a mid-terrace house was damaged by fire.

“Sadly a woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

“The Brigade was called at 2240 and the fire was under control by 2338.

“Three fire engines and around 20 firefighters from Ilford and Barking fire stations attended the incident. The cause of the fire is under investigation.”

Anna Karen in Rag Trade in 1977
Anna starred in numerous sitcoms in the 70s (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

Who was Anna Karen?

Anna had a recurring role in EastEnders as Peggy Mitchell’s sister Aunt Sal.

The domineering, disapproving relative often sided with Peggy over wayward son Phil Mitchell.

She first appeared in 1997 and she was last seen at the funeral of Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell in 2017.

EastEnders Aunt Sal looks disapprovingly at Glenda
Aunt Sal was a force to be reckoned with (Credit: BBC)

Anna, was born in South Africa in 1936, before moving to London aged 17.

She made her career debut in naturist film Nudist Memories in 1961.

Following small parts in Poor Cow and Carry on Camping, she landed a role in Wild Wild Women alongside Barbara Windsor.

Anna was then offered the role that would make her famous: Olive in On The Buses.

Olive was the sexually frustrated younger sister of Stan Butler. Anna played her for all 74 episodes of the series.

She was actually a model at the time and was forced to wear a wig and lots of padding to play Olive!

Anna later reprised the role of Olive in sitcom The Rag trade.

She was married to comedian Terry Dugan until his death in 2008.

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Carena Crawford
Associate Editor (Soaps)