Former EastEnders star Anna Wing has died at the age of 98, her agent has announced.
“In the scenes I played with her I had to stop myself from laughing because of the way she used to do this “whoof whoof” thing with her cheeks, and she was the matriarch, and this just made me laugh. She was actually quite Bohemian and outrageous in her way, but she was a very dear person, very genuine, very warm, I loved her. God bless her.” – Bill Treacher, speaking to ATV Today
The actress was one of EastEnders original cast members as Lou Beale, mother to Pete and Pauline, starring in the long-running BBC serial for three years until 1988.
Outspoken Lou resided with Pauline (Wendy Richard), her hapless husband Arthur (Bill Treacher) and their children – all of whom feared her wrath, although there were many tender moments too. A fan favourite, show bosses had tried to dissuade Wing from quitting the role in 1988, as revealed by Wing in an interview to mark the saga’s 15th anniversary, but she had wanted to disassociate herself with the programme’s negative portrayal of the East End.
Lou died peacefully in the storylines but not before giving her family one final dressing down.
Hackney born Wing decided she wanted to be an actress aged eleven, after visiting a theatre production starring John Gielgud in London. She would however wait several years before venturing into the profession. Anna initially trained as a teacher and also took on modelling work – which eventually lead into studying acting.
“I am very sorry to hear about Anna Wing. Our loss is heavens gain. [She was] a very unique woman, who lived her stay here to the full.” – Peter Dean, speaking to ATV Today
She made her first professional outing in the 1930s, appearing in numerous theatre, film and television productions over the years, as well as assisting Britain’s medical units as a Red Cross nurse during World War II.
Doctor Who, Z-Cars on the Beeb and ATV’s General Hospital and Father Brown were among her earlier Television credits. Anna had continued to work until relatively recently including appearing in a music video and with guest spots in dramas such as Casualty, Doctors and The Bill, but it is for the role of Lou Beale in EastEnders that she will be most fondly remembered.
Anna was awarded the MBE in 2009 for services to drama.
Paying tribute to the actress, co-star from The Witches And The Grinnygog and EastEnders, where Anna played his on-screen gran, Adam Woodyatt (Ian Beale) said:
Anna was so helpful… I have so many fond memories of her, my thoughts are with her family and friends.
Fellow EastEnders co-star June Brown (Dot Branning) added:
Anna always thought well of everyone and she loved and enjoyed her children and grandchildren. I was very fond of her indeed and will remember Anna with great affection always.