EastEnders has seen a number of on-screen deaths over time, but it surely’s a uncommon prevalence for the actors to shortly meet the identical destiny in actual life.
But that was precisely what occurred to one of many stars of the cleaning soap opera within the 90s.
Veteran viewers will bear in mind the lovable little pug carried round always by loveable outdated expensive Ethel Skinner (Gretchen Franklin).
Willy the pug turned as a lot part of Ethel’s get-up as her fabulous wigs and her tea cosy hat.
(Image: Daily Record)
The doting dog-owner was hardly ever seen with out her pet, who she named after her husband William Skinner, after he handed away.
But Ethel was to survive each her beloved Williams earlier than she left, as a result of in 1992 tragedy was to befall Willy the pug – first on-screen, then in actual life.
Willy was typically seen hanging out within the Queen Vic with the opposite EastEnders pooch Roly whereas Ethel was cleansing.
His identify, with its double which means, inevitably offered the butt of no finish of puerile jokes on the present (“Has anybody seen my Willy?”).
And the notoriously spoilt and mischievous little character triggered Ethel no finish of stress throughout his time on the present, as a lot as she adored him.
In 1986 Ethel was devastated after Willy was kidnapped, even conducting a seance to attempt to discover him once more earlier than it transpired he had been unintentionally adopted by a international warfare veteran.
She even turned down two potential husbands for Willy’s sake – Ernie Mears and Benny Bloom each wish to marry her if she is going to ditch the canine, however Ethel merely could not half with him, turning them down one after the opposite.
But after a lifetime of mischief and journey, Willy’s on-screen loss of life got here the next decade.
To Ethel’s dismay, Willy was put down throughout completely heart-breaking scenes in 1992.
Then, most shockingly, the canine who performed Willy died in actual life simply two weeks later.
In reality, the Nineteen Nineties was a nasty decade for the EastEnders pooches.
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The Watts’ beloved pet Roly, whose real-life proprietor was EastEnders creator Julia Smith, had no less than one near-miss earlier than his on-screen loss of life.
The poodle almost died throughout the well-known plot through which Grant Mitchell set hearth to the Vic for the insurance coverage cash.
Roly was later really killed off from the present in 1993, throughout a plotline through which he was run over whereas chasing a cat, earlier than passing away for actual in 1995.
Ethel Skinner remained a well-respected Albert Square resident for over fifteen years, when she left aged 89.
She requested her finest pal Dot to assist her finish her life when she found that she had inoperable most cancers, passing away in Dot’s arms in an extremely shifting episode in 2000.
Actress Gretchen Franklin died in actual life in 2005.
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