EastEnders actress Anna Karen, 85, dies in house fire

23 February 2022, 15:12 | Updated: 24 February 2022, 08:58

Anna Karen has passed away at the age of 85
Anna Karen has passed away at the age of 85. Picture: Alamy/BBC
Alice Dear

By Alice Dear

Anna Karen was best known for playing Aunt Sal in EastEnders and Olive in TV sitcom On The Buses.

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Anna Karen, 85, has died following a house fire in her home in East London.

The British-South African actress passed away on Tuesday evening at her home in Ilford.

Emergency services were reportedly at the site of the fire at 10:20pm, but despite their best efforts Anna died at the scene.

Police are believed to be looking into the cause of the fire.

Anna Karen played Olive in On The Buses and Aunt Sal in EastEnders
Anna Karen played Olive in On The Buses and Aunt Sal in EastEnders. Picture: Alamy

Anna was best known for her role of Olive in 70s sitcom On The Buses as well as her role of Aunt Sal in EastEnders.

Her character in the soap, whose full name was Sal Martin, was the sister of Peggy Mitchell, played by the late Dame Barbara Windsor.

Anna Karen played the sister of Peggy Mitchell, played by the late Barbara Windsor
Anna Karen played the sister of Peggy Mitchell, played by the late Barbara Windsor. Picture: Shutterstock

Neighbours told The Sun that Anna was a local celebrity on their street, and described her as a "lovely old lady".

Sivalai Pavananthakumar, 33, told the publication that neighbours raised the alarm after smoke was seen coming from her front door.

He said: “There was a lot of smoke, and flames, people in the street had seen what was happening and came out to try and help.

“The fire brigade and police were here quickly and kicked down the door, there was so much smoke."

Sivalai added: “I recognised her and would see her everyday when I took my children to school, she was a nice old lady and always said hello.”

Anna Karen was killed in a house fire at her home in East London
Anna Karen was killed in a house fire at her home in East London. Picture: BBC

A second neighbour said of the actress: “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."

A third added: “She was an icon when she was On The Buses, everyone would have recognised her, but not so much as she got older.”