Wed Feb 23, 2022 6:08 pm
Olive from On the Buses and EastEnders star Anna Karen has tragically died in a house fire in East London at the age of 85
Much-loved actress Anna Karen has died in a house fire in east London.
The EastEnders star died in the horror blaze as firefighters were called to the scene in Ilford shortly after 10.30pm last night.
The crew got the fire on the ground floor of a terraced house under control in less than an hour but the actress had died by then.
The 85-year-old was best known for her role as Olive in 70s comedy On The Buses.
She also appeared in EastEnders as Aunt Sal and the sister of Peggy Mitchell, played by Barbara Windsor.
Confirming the tragic news, Anna's family friend told Mail Online: "We are absolutely horrified at the news about Anna."
A London Fire Brigade spokesperson confirmed: "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."
The actress was born in Durban, South Africa as Ann McCall to her Irish father and an English mother.
During her youth, Anna appeared in productions in South Africa before moving to London aged 17.
Having had a passion for acting and performing from a very young age, she enrolled in the London School of Dramatic Art once she arrived in the UK.
As well as a long career in film and television, she was also a theatre star.
Anna appeared in numerous pantomimes across the country.
The actress last appeared on BBC One soap EastEnders in January 2017.
Anna's character, Aunt Sal, fast became a favourite among fans thanks to her no-nonsense nature and witty one-liners.
Before she made her first appearance on Albert Square in 1996, Anna reprised the role of Olive in The Rag Trade in the late 1970s and had roles in two Carry On films, Carry On Camping and Carry On Loving.
In 2006, Anna used her experience as a striptease dancer to act as a judge in the final edition of Channel 4's reality television documentary Faking It.
In 2008, she was also a guest on the Channel 4's Sunday Night Project, alongside EastEnders co-star, Barbara Windsor.
Mon Aug 22, 2022 2:14 am
On The Buses’ Anna Karen leaves most of £400,000 fortune to co-star Sophie Lawrence
Late On The Buses star Anna Karen has left the majority of her fortune to her former EastEnders co-star Sophie Lawrence.
The actress, who played Olive Rudge in the ITV transport sitcom between 1969 and 1973, died in a house fire at her home in Ilford earlier this year.
Her East London home went up in flames in February in a horror blaze which neighbours believe was started by a cigarette after she fell asleep while smoking.
"She was apparently in bed at the time of the fire. It’s thought she fell asleep with a cigarette,” a source told The Sun earlier this year.
Her agent Shane Collins also told the publication: "We don’t know if it was an electrical fault or whether it was because she was smoking."
Anna had resided in London since she was 17 years old and lived in a modest terraced home.
Over £420,000 of her estate was left for her close friend Sophie, 50, who played Diane Butcher in EastEnders between 1988 and 1991.
Anna also appeared in EastEnders between 1996 and 2017, playing Aunt Sal, aunt of Grant and Phil Mitchell and sister of Peggy Mitchell, played by Barbara Windsor.
According to probate records seen by the MailOnline, Anna's will left 65 per cent of her net estate to Lawrence after payment of funeral and legal costs, inheritance tax and a £1,500 legacy to another friend.
Anna’s will reportedly left a further fifth of the residuary of her estate to her stepdaughter Gloria Gill, the daughter of her actor husband Terry Duggan, who died in 2008.
Another eighth was left to four other friends or relatives and the final 2.5 per cent was left to the Actors' Benevolent Fund.
Sophie, born in Ilford but now living in Norwich, finished her soap career and entered the music world, reaching number 21 in the UK singles charts in 1991 with a cover version of Donna Summer's 1977 song Love's Unkind.
Anna, born in South Africa, performed as a striptease artist to pay her way through drama school.
She portrayed the sister of bus driver Stan Butler, played by Reg Varney, in 74 episodes of On The Buses as well as three spin-off films.
She also appeared in the film comedies Carry On Camping and Carry On Loving, and had her role as Olive transferred to another workplace TV sitcom, The Rag Trade, in 1977 and 1978.