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EastEnders

EastEnders casts actor David Sterne with 40 year career for emotional funeral episode as legendary character dies

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David Sterne plays Howard in EastEnders, standing up to give a eulogy at Aunt Sal's funeral
Emotional scenes as Walford says goodbye to Aunt Sal (Picture: BBC)

EastEnders has landed yet another coup from acting royalty as star of stage, TV and film David Sterne has been cast for emotional scenes, as a legendary character is laid to rest.

The news comes after other big names, including Colin Salmon, Christopher Fairbank and Elizabeth Counsell, joined the show which is considered by many to be in a renaissance period.

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 actress Anna Karen.

Often referenced but never seen, Aunt Sal’s elusive husband, Harold Martin, will make a guest appearance as he pays tribute to his beloved wife, alongside the likes of Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) and sister Sam (Kim Medcalf).

David Sterne has worked for over 40 years, with notable roles including Bridgerton, A Knight’s Tale and The Boat That Rocked.

Speaking on the storyline on David’s appearance, 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.

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Harold, played by David Sterne, talks to Sharon at Aunt Sal's funeral in EastEnders
Harold will be in Walford to pay tribute to his wife (Picture: BBC)
EastEnders cast filming Aunt Sal's funeral
The filming of the funeral was particularly important to the cast, who adored Anna Karen (Picture: BBC

‘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 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. The writing was brilliant so he was a joy to play.’

Hollywood icon Alan Ford will also be making his EastEnders debut at the funeral.

The 85-year-old actor, best known for his work in films such as Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is taking on the role of Billy Mitchell’s (Perry Fenwick) estranged dad Stevie Mitchell.

Aunt Sal was a staple of some of the most iconic Mitchell scenes, delivering many an acerbic quip and barbed jibe.

Former EastEnders character Aunt Sal

Every visit from Aunt Sal was entertaining (Picture: BBC)

Now the cast and crew are uniting to pay a special tribute.

Anna, also known for playing Olive in On The Buses, died in a house fire in 2022.

A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: ‘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.’

Mandatory Credit: Photo by REX/Shutterstock (4998028d) Anna Karen Funeral of Stephen Lewis, Wanstead, London, Britain - 25 Aug 2015 Funeral of actor Stephen Lewis (88yrs) who played the character 'Blakey' in TV's 'On the Buses' back in the 1970's. Funeral held at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church
Anna Karen died tragically in a house fire in 2022 (Picture: REX)

An EastEnders spokesperson said after the tragedy: ‘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 funeral episodes for Aunt Sal will air later this month.

Now the cast and crew are uniting to pay a special tribute.

Anna, also known for playing Olive in On The Buses, died in a house fire in 2022.

A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: ‘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.’

Mandatory Credit: Photo by REX/Shutterstock (4998028d) Anna Karen Funeral of Stephen Lewis, Wanstead, London, Britain - 25 Aug 2015 Funeral of actor Stephen Lewis (88yrs) who played the character 'Blakey' in TV's 'On the Buses' back in the 1970's. Funeral held at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church
Anna Karen died tragically in a house fire in 2022 (Picture: REX)

An EastEnders spokesperson said after the tragedy: ‘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 funeral episodes for Aunt Sal will air later this month.

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