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EastEnders

BBC EastEnders Aunt Sal’s husband to make first appearance as veteran star joins cast

EastEnders fans will finally meet Aunt Sal's mysterious husband Harold Martin next week as BBC bosses pay tribute to Anna Karen following her sudden death last year

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EastEnders fans are set to meet Aunt Sal’s elusive husband Harold Martin as her emotional funeral rocks Albert Square.

The BBC One soap will air the heartbreaking scenes next week after the Mitchells learn of her off-screen death on Wednesday (January 10). In a special week of episodes, the Mitchell family will say a final farewell to their beloved Aunt Sal, who died off screen following the death of Anna Karen who died in a fire last year.

Often referenced but never seen, Harold (played by David Sterne) will make a guest appearance as he pays tribute to his beloved wife. He will be saying farewell to the star alongside the likes of Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) and sister Sam (Kim Medcalf).

David has worked in film and TV for more than 40 years, with impressive roles in Bridgerton, A Knight’s Tale and The Boar That Rocked. Speaking on David’s appearance in the soap, executive producer Chris Clenshaw said: “Everyone at EastEnders was truly saddened to learn of Anna Karen’s passing and it was imperative that we gave Aunt Sal the send-off she deserved.

EastEnders Aunt Sal’s husband to make first appearance in Albert Square
EastEnders Aunt Sal’s husband to make first appearance in Albert Square (Image: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)
“I’m delighted to welcome David Sterne to the guest role of Aunt Sal’s elusive husband, Harold Martin, as the Mitchell family gather together to say goodbye.” David Sterne added: “I loved playing Harold as I felt like the storyline was really important in the context of the show and everyone was so wonderful and welcoming.

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“The writing was brilliant, so he was a joy to play.” But actor David Sterne isn’t the only star to make his debut in Walford next week.

Hollywood actor Alan Ford will also be making his EastEnders debut at the funeral playing the role as Stevie Mitchell. The 85-year-old actor, best known for his roles in Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, is taking on the role of Billy Mitchell’s estranged dad.

David Sterne will play Aunt Sal’s elusive husband Harold Martin
David Sterne will play Aunt Sal’s elusive husband Harold Martin (Image: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

Aunt Sal was a staple character on the famous square and starred in some of the most iconic Mitchell scenes, delivering many cheeky quips and barbed jibe. Now, the cast and crew are reuniting to pay a special tribute to the late actor.

Anna, also known for her role as Olive in On The Buses, died in a house dire in 2022. A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said at the time: “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 22:40 and the fire was under control by 23:38.

The veteran actor will be joined by Hollywood legend Alan Ford
The veteran actor will be joined by Hollywood legend Alan Ford (Image: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

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“Three fire engines and around 20 firefighters from Ilford and Barking fire stations attended the incident. The cause of the fire is under investigation.” An EastEnders spokesperson said of the tragedy at the time: “We are deeply saddened to hear that Anna Karen has passed away.

“Anna created a sharp, quick witted and extremely popular character in Aunt Sal that the audience will never forget, just as those who worked with her at EastEnders will never forget her warmth, kindness, fun and good humour.

“Our love and thoughts are with Anna’s family and friends.” The devastating funeral episodes for Aunt Sal will air later this month. EastEnders airs on weekdays on BBC One from 7.30pm or catch up on BBC iPlayer.

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