Earlier today it was announced that John Bardon, who played Jim Branning in EastEnders, has died at the age of 75.
The official EastEnders website confirmed that the actor, who suffered a debilitating stroke in 2007, passed away this morning following a period of ill health.
Bardon made his first appearance as the once-bigoted Jim in 1996, appearing in three episodes, before joining the show on a full time basis, in 1999, for a storyline that saw Jim move to the Square and assume responsibility for his grandchildren.
Upon becoming a series regular, the EastEnders storyliners revised Jim’s character, making him less of a bigot and more of a loveable rogue and he soon became a fan favourite thanks to a popular double act with wife Dot, played by June Brown.
In 2007, John was given time off from the soap to participate in Just The Two Of Us, a light-entertainment format which saw celebrities pair up with each other to perform songs in a bid to impress the voting public.
Here he formed another memorable double act with Jocelyn Brown as together they treated viewers to a number of larger than life performances.
Watch the pair perform their unforgettable rendition of Nelly Furtado’s Maneater below:
Bardon was forced to withdraw from EastEnders in 2007 following his stroke which was later reflected in the soap’s storylines when a similar fate befell his character. He made a return to the show in 2008 and through a number of infrequent appearances, the soap explored the aftermath of Jim’s stroke which had taken place off-screen to explain Bardon’s absence. Jim was once again written out of the show in 2011 and has since been residing, unseen, in a care home.
Following today’s announcement, tributes have poured in for the actor with Brown commenting: “I am so sorry that John has passed away but hope that he is now at peace after seven difficult years. I shall miss him very much as I loved him dearly. My thoughts are with his devoted wife, Enda.”
Natalie Cassidy, who plays Jim’s granddaughter Sonia, said: “I never had a real granddad so John was like an actual granddad to me. He was a lovely man and I learnt a lot from him.”
Jake Wood, who plays Jim’s son Max, said: “Such sad news…I’m honoured to have known him. John was a gentleman and will be missed by all who knew him. RIP x”
Also among those expressing their condolences were the soap’s Executive Producer, Dominic Treadwell-Collins, who described Bardon as “a brilliant, funny, clever actor and gentleman” and James Alexandrou, who played Martin Fowler, who tweeted a picture that Bardon had painted for him.
“Everyone at EastEnders is absolutely heartbroken to learn that John has sadly passed away. His bravery, dignity and courage in battling against the devastating effects of his stroke were admired by all who had the privilege of working with him. Loved by us all, John was an exceptionally talented actor whose humour, mischievousness and brilliant performances made Jim Branning one of Walford’s most loveable, memorable characters and we will miss John forever.” – EastEnders
Prior to EastEnders, his longest running television role, he had made numerous guest spots in television dramas such as Central TV’s Boon, Granada’s Crown Court, LWT’s The Gentle Touch and a recurring role in Thames Television’s Rumpole of the Bailey. He was possibly best known however for his comedy appearances in shows such as the BBC’s Hi-de-Hi, Terry and June, Birds of a Feather and Are You Being Served? as well as Channel 4’s Desmonds and ITV’s revival of Up Pompeii.
He is survived by wife of 12 years Enda.